Al Gore is hopping mad that his Current TV was dumped from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia before Keith Olbermann debuted in America with his strong brew of overcaffeinated leftist cappuccino. Gore told the left-wing U.K. Guardian:
"News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch," Gore said.
Has Al Gore ever seen Keith Olbermann’s Countdown? The show that hasn’t allowed a disagreeable conservative voice since around the Howard Dean Scream?
Gore said Current TV executives were told "off the record that the decision was taken on News Corp instructions from New York." The primary reason, he claimed, was "because Current is launching Keith Olbermann next month." In a statement, News Corp disagreed, saying Current was asking for money after less ratings.
Gore not only claimed that Current TV actually had viewers in Italy, he insisted the decision to dump Current TV in Italy also had implications in the UK – where News Corp's takeover of BSkyB is under review on the grounds of "media plurality." Once again, as if the BBC has been inclusive of conservative thought?
"I know that News Corp is close to reaching an agreement to buy BSkyB. Now I may not be a party to that debate, but if anybody believes that [News Corp] will remain hands off if there are diverse opinions that do not agree with its ideological agenda then they are fools. This is proof positive of their abuse of power," Gore said.
Gore added that he had a "pleasant personal relationship" with Murdoch dating back to the former vice-president's time in the White House, and said that he wasn't sure exactly on whose authority the decision was made to order Current TV off the air in Italy. He said that he didn't want "to make this ad hominem" but added it was clear that Murdoch and News Corp had too much power...
"Anglo-American political theory highlights the problem. Too much power in the hands of one person is dangerous, no matter the ideology," Gore said. "The conversation of democracy, which used to happen in newspapers or in other public places now happens on the television screen. But this is a public space in which gatekeepers charge rents."
He cited the example of the 2003 Iraq war, in which News Corp had acted as "an aggressive cheerleader" for the US-led invasion, to the point where "three quarters of the American public got the impression that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks of 2001". This journalism, Gore said, "has consequences" and he argued that "our democracy is much better when there are diverse viewpoints" to inform decision-making.
And if a viewer spent the runup to the Iraq War watching MSNBC's Phil Donahue and then Olbermann, they would have received "diverse viewpoints" on which to base a decision? This is especially galling since Al Gore believes that "diverse viewpoints" are evil when it comes to his pet cause of global warming.
Michael Calderone added that Gore's partner, former Democratic Senate candidate Joel Hyatt (son-in-law of the late ultraliberal Sen. Howard Metzenbaum) is also on the attack:
Hyatt lauded Current Italia as “the only independent news channel in Italy.” He pointed out that Current ran a critical PBS documentary of Italian prime minister (and media mogul) Silvio Berlusconi that other Italian networks wouldn't air and is now broadcasting a five-part series on The Vatican. The majority of Current Italia's programming is produced in Italy and the network had no plans to air Olbermann's new version of "Countdown."
“This is about politics,” Hyatt said. “This about the fact that we hired Keith Olbermann, plain and simple.”
Oh, yes, PBS: there's another network that Al Gore would have trouble arguing provides "diverse viewpoints," with lots of space for conservatives.
Naturally, Olbermann compared himself on his Twitter page to Winston Churchill, as if Keith were the military-commander type:
“We shall go on to the end; we shall fight in (Italy); we shall fight on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength (on) the air; we shall defend our (network) whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on the beaches; we shall fight on the landing grounds; we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender! - Rupert, you have been warned.”