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Paul Hayden

Happy 1st Birthday Al Jazeera America – See you in Court

September 8, 2014

Al Gore, former Vice President of the U.S., and his business partner, Joel Hyatt of Hyatt Legal Services, formed Current Television.  Richard Blum, husband of Senator Diane Feinstein, was one of four Directors.   After a decade the liberal pop culture network failed to gain audience and went on the market.   Conservative commentator Glen Beck pursued buying Current, but was rejected. The reason given was that Beck’s Libertarian/Conservative ideology did not agree with the principles of Current.   Instead Current was sold to Al-Jazeera Media Network.   

Al-Jazeera (AJ) is a propaganda arm of the Al Thani family which rules the wealthy Kingdom of Qatar.  AJ is one of the most controversial news outlets in the world; and the premier news channel in the Islamic world.  One of their leading personalities, Muslim Brotherhood Cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi, has called for the murder of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq and Jews in Israel.  Critics say that AJ is a news source with terrorist ties.  

Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani pledged $400 million to the terrorist group Hamas, donated multi millions to the Clinton Foundation, and to the Brookings Institution.  In Libya and in Syria, it is widely reported that Qatar bankrolls al Qaeda. In Egypt, Qatar backed Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi.  According to Jack Keane,a retired four star general and former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and a defense analyst currently serving as Chairman of the Board for the Institute for the Study of War; Qatar funds ISIS. 

Al Jazeera English had no success in the United States. The $500 million purchase of Current Television made it available to more than half of the U.S. market, and it became Al Jazeera America (AJAM) with headquarters in New York City. 

Gore and Hyatt announced that the sale to Al Jazeera would “speak truth to power, provide independent and diverse points of view; and tell stories that no one else is telling.” They posit that the legacy of Current made them sensitive to networks not aligned with their point of view.   One might conclude that Gore and Hyatt are more aligned with Al-Jazeera’s Islamic point of view, than Glen Beck’s Judeo/Christian point of view. 

Al Jazeera America (AJAM) just celebrated its first birthday, and is struggling with its ratings.  AJAM’s prime time ratings had about 17,000 viewers this year; compared with 453,000 for CNN; and 1.87 million for Fox News.  This in spite of AJAM hiring many American news people from major networks; and having bureaus in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.  Recently AJAM laid off dozens of journalists, and Chief Executive Al Shihabi announced that another round of layoffs is coming. 

David Boies, lawyer for Gore in the Bush v Gore 2000 presidential lawsuit, was hired in August by Gore and Hyatt to sue AJAM for $65 million for fraud and breach of contract. That money had been in escrow from the $500 million sale.  Al Jazeera filed claim certificates to retain that money for violations of the merger agreement. Al Jazeera calls the Boies move a public relations maneuver. 

Media such as the New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, Washington Times, Huffington Post, NPR and others have given rave reviews to AJAM.   As it evolves, how will they report the legal dust up between AJAM and Gore/Hyatt?

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The internationally published writer is a former English teacher, stockbroker, and owner/president of a small corporation.  She is active with Republican Women Federated, The Coachella Valley Lincoln Club, The California Republican Party, and Armed Services YMCA- 29 Palms Marine Base.  She can be reached at  darlenecasella@msn.com