Media Find Current TV Electrifying

Media Find Current TV Electrifying
Stories downplay negatives, fawn over Al Gore, businessman as out to change the world.

By Dan Gainor
August 9, 2005

     What do you call a politician whose new business venture relies on money from someone he once criticized? If your name is Al Gore, then Time magazine calls you an activist entrepreneur, shamelessly promoting your new business.

     In an era where media coverage emphasizes the downside of company CEOs, Gore received what amounted to a media love letter. Times Aug. 8 coverage was part of a media stampede that showed Gores new television network, Current TV, generating some buzz and even compared the venture to the billion-dollar success of Google. Gore was received kid-glove treatment in print and on TV and only one media outlet mentioned that he had received aid from media baron Rupert Murdoch whose Fox News Channel Gore once called a fifth column, as Time explained.

     Journalists referred to the former presidential candidate as reincarnated in two separate publications, and Time magazines story Al Gore, Businessman called him a businessman who is out to change the world. Time gave fellow Democrat John Edwards similar treatment during the 2004 campaign.

     A new Business & Media Institute analysis showed that most of the major media have done the Current TV story in some positive fashion in the months surrounding the August 2005 launch. CNN went so far as to ask the opinion of former Gore-Lieberman 2000 campaign manager, Donna Brazile, without mentioning her connection. All they included was this Joe Johns comment, So Donna Brazile, you know Al Gore very well. Whats he up to with this?

     Brazile was true to form and called the network a great new concept and a great venture. Johns, adding to the reincarnation theme, said, Hes sort of remaking himself, once again. That wasnt the only spin included in the Gore coverage. Here are a few highlights:

    Liberal virtues: The Time story, by Karen Tumulty and Laura Locke, mentioned Gores investment partnership, Generation. Generation aims to find and invest in companies that will pay off by virtue of enlightened approaches on energy, the environment, employee relations and other policies that will benefit society as well as their bottom lines. Thats not a Generation press release thats directly from the story. There was no explanation of the enlightened approaches, but its safe to guess they reflected ideas the reporters agreed with.
    It wont be politicalmaybe: Time admitted that nearly all of Gores investors are also big Democratic contributors but relayed Gores claim that there is close to zero-percent chance that he would run for office. Other media made a similar claim, although an Aug. 1 Washington Post story by Ariana Eunjung Cha said otherwise. According to Cha, the viewer-contributed videos will be opinionated. Bias and opinions in these citizen reports will not only be tolerated but desirable, said Cha.
    No bias at all.Newsweek reporter Brad Stone downplayed the potential left-wing politics of the new network in his April 8 report, repeating Gores claim that he had no interest in that. Stone disclosed that he had applied for a job with the 1992 Senate campaign of Gore partner Joel Hyatt, the former national finance chairman for the Democratic Party in 2000. Stones comments started out negative, but quickly went far the other way. This week, I told former Vice President Al Gore why his new cable-television venture would never work, Stone began. But first, an admission. When I first saw Google in the 90s, I thought to myself: What, another search engine?
    Nothing new: This wasnt the first time the media welcomed Gore with open arms. The Aug. 8, 2000, CBS Evening News said of Gore and his running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America.
    Age before legality: Several media made references to the youth of the Current TV staff, but none of them raised any questions about it. As Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune put it in a July 31 story, But the network is selling itself as the first national network created by, for and with an 18-to-34-year-old audience. Cha also focused on the youth of the staff, without questioning it: The company is filled with promising but as yet mostly unknown media figures; most of Currents 120-plus staffers are under 40. Cha raised no questions about age discrimination. She might have simply referred to another Washington Post piece from June 14, 2005, by Abigail Trafford: But the ism of age goes on, unchecked. Geezer-bashing is socially acceptable. Trafford went on to say, Ageism also harms younger people by exacerbating their fears of growing older.
    You gotta be hip: The Washington Posts Aug. 1, 2005, Ariana Eunjung Cha article focused on how Gore was reincarnated to a man in a hip, open-at-the-collar, all-black ensemble. When Gore said the project has been a blast, Cha commented, A 21-year-old hipster couldnt have said it better.