One of the meatier developments in the media over the holidays was the announcement of news network al Jazeera purchasing Al Gore's Current TV in order to enter mainstream American households. While plenty has been discussed on how ironic the $500 million sale is, most commentary thus far has centered around the spectacle of the transaction (Gore is estimated to gross approximately $70 million).
While the financials are definitely eye-opening to how this sort of business can muscle itself around despite the inherently divergent politics of the involved parties, hardly anybody is pointing out how al Jazeera may not be the straightforward news network it purports itself to be besides CFR's Elliot Abrams.
In his blog post, Abrams brings up a simple test: Is al-Jazeera capable of candid reporting on Qatari affairs? Unfortunately, the answer ends up as no--a questionable conclusion since the network is well known as property of the oil-rich Qatari royal family.
Despite this, al Jazeera is still one of my favorite news outlets. I often find it to be a rich resource for events outside the radar of, say, the ubiquitous New York Times. But unlike the UK's BBC, Germany's Deutsche Welle, FRANCE 24, or Voice of America, al Jazeera's direct funding connection to the government of Qatar (via Sheik Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani) is not overtly disclosed in its fine print. So the question is, will people care if al Jazeera doesn't objectively report on Qatari events while on their television sets?
With Time Warner dropping Current shortly after the sale, we'll have to wait and see how the rest of this story continues.