David "Karl Rove Will Be Indicted" Shuster is the latest cable-news host to join the Al-Jazeera America team. CNN's Ali Velshi signed up early, and Soledad O'Brien will be a special correspondent providing documentaries. The channel launches and replaces Current TV on August 20, the channel Al Gore sold (out) to the emir of Qatar in January for a reported $500 million (and maybe more). Current TV is presently available in 60 million homes, and seen by much, much less.
As part of its ongoing campaign to buy all the "mainstream" TV news veterans it can to rub prestige on itself, the Arab "news" channel also hired a new president in ABC News executive Kate O'Brian, a 30-year veteran of ABC. ABC News chief Ben Sherwood called the news "exciting and bittersweet." In the official press release, O'Brian, like other new hires, praises the al-Jazeera brand as synonymous with excellence, not Jew-baiting, America-bashing propaganda:
“Al Jazeera America will demonstrate that quality journalism is alive and well in the United States,” she said. “Working alongside the talented journalists at ABC News has prepared me to take this step and I am deeply grateful for thirty years at that outstanding organization. As I bring everything I learned to this new role I’m looking forward to showing the Al Jazeera viewers that there is a strong demand for the type of in depth reporting for which Al Jazeera is so well known.”
Senior Vice President David Doss, who will also be based in New York City, comes to Al Jazeera America from CNN where he was senior executive producer for “Anderson Cooper 360.” He was also an executive producer for both ABC and NBC News...
Doss said that Al Jazeera America will provide him with the opportunity that every serious journalist looks for. “It’s impossible not be impressed by the journalistic standards Al Jazeera demands of its reporters and producers,” he said. “We will report the news that isn’t seen every night elsewhere and will do it with strict adherence to the principles that have won Al Jazeera so many awards from the profession. I joined Al Jazeera America to be part of that culture.”
AJA also hired long-time CBS News executive Marcy McGinnis as senior VP for newsgathering. "McGinnis was at the helm of the CBS newsgathering operation during coverage of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and Hurricane Katrina. She was one of the primary architects of CBS News’ award-winning coverage of the war in Iraq." One might see how covering Bush's wars (and Katrina) for CBS would impress Al Jazeera.
The senior VP for documentaries and programs will be Shannon High-Bassalik, another network veteran. "Before joining CNN, Shannon was executive producer of development for NBC Peacock Productions, vice president of daytime program development and several other senior positions at MSNBC."