January 29, 2013

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Around the time that his Current TV was sold to Al Jazeera early this month, Al Gore was tough to track down. He issued a curt statement here and there, but no in-depth defense of the controversial cable-TV deal.

All of which explains why Gore’s encounter this morning with Matt Lauer of “Today” has a fresh feel to it. The highlights:

• Lauer repeats the wisdom that Gore took away $100 million from the deal “pre-tax”; Gore doesn’t dispute the figure.
• Gore loves accolades: “We won every award in television journalism,” he said of his accomplishments at Current TV.
• Gore loves accolades won by other outlets. Of Al Jazeera, he says, “It’s won major awards in countries around the world.”
• Hypocrisy! “Today” displayed a quote from Gore’s new book “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change.” It reads, “Virtually every news and political commentary program on television is sponsored in part by oil, coal and gas companies…” So Lauer asks Gore if his sale of Current TV to a network owned by the emir of an oil-earnings-fueled Middle East country (Qatar) doesn’t smack of a contradiction. To which Gore had a lame response. “I certainly understand that criticism. I disagree with it. Because I think Al Jazeera has obviously long since established itself as a really distinguished and effective news gathering organization. And by the way, its climate coverage has been far more extensive and of high quality than any…”
Lauer came back at him, citing possible hypocrisy. Gore essentially repeated his first response.

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Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.