Al Gore, Al Jazeera, and the Gray Lady
by EDWARD CLINE
February 13, 2013
The New York Times isn't called The Gray Lady for nothing. It has entered its 162ndyear of publication. Despite its falling daily circulation that hovers tenuously around one million, it is still regarded as the nation's "newspaper of record." It boasts a monthly tally of thirty million "visitors" to its online version. "Visitors," however, does not necessarily translate into "readers." Once the most widely read paper in the nation, today it follows USA Today and The Wall Street Journal in circulation.
In the 19th century, it was largely a Republican paper, until it turned "independent."
The Times' record of reporting "all the news that's fit to print" is not immaculate. Its offences are legion. Too often it was charged with fitting the news to conform to the paper's growing partiality for collectivist ideologies. Today, it is more or less notorious for it. Its crimes of commission include the Walter Durant series of articles in 1931 that omitted mention of the Soviet government's engineered campaign of starvation in the Ukraine, which claimed millions of lives, but for which Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize. In 2001, it was revealed that before, during and even after World War II, the paper "minimized" reports of the Nazi genocide of Jews by briefly mentioning the atrocities in stories buried deep inside its pages.
There were the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which revealed U.S. military strategy in Vietnam, a war it opposed vociferously in tune with the anti-war and anti-America mantra of the Left. There was Jayson Blair, a reporter who was caught plagiarizing other newspapers and falsifying facts and whom the Times had hired to prove its commitment to affirmative action. The paper reproduced exclusively the prosecution's perspective in the Duke University/lacrosse rape case.
Finally, the paper has adopted an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian policy that colors every bit of its news reportage, and not just in its editorializing.
More recently, it has become a kind of publicist for the anti-wealth and anti-freedom complaints of the likes of Occupy Wall Street, running an article that condemned the Constitution, whose writer, Georgetown University constitutional law professor Louis Michael Seidman, called the document "archaic" and "idiosyncratic" and said contained "downright evil provisions." As though that weren't enough, it has applauded the purchase of Al Gore's failed propaganda outlet, Current TV, by Al Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood's propaganda outlet.
The Times acted as point-man in a libel case, New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan, that involved the number of times Martin Luther King, Jr. had been arrested in Alabama by the state police as reported by the Times, and by implication, it was charged with defaming the character of Montgomery police supervisor L.B. Sullivan. The case went to the Supreme Court in 1964. Citing the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Court held that the Times could not be sued for defamation of character because no malice was intended.
Factual error, content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient to warrant an award of damages for false statements unless "actual malice" --knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth -- is alleged and proved....
In short, the Court, in overturning an Alabama Supreme Court finding, ruled that malice could not be proven because no one can get inside a reporter's head to prove that he had malicious intent.
The evidence was constitutionally insufficient to support the judgment for respondent, since it failed to support a finding that the statements were made with actual malice or that they related to respondent.
Let's try to get inside the Times' collective policy head and try to grasp why its policymakers would, on one hand, condone a condemnation of the Constitution, and on the other, applaud the establishment of an Islamist propaganda medium in this country. Let us try to see what "malicious intent" looks like.
In the Constitution article, the Times implicitly and in agreement repudiates the Supreme Court's Sullivan decision that the paper is protected by the First Amendment, which its author disputes has anything to do with freedom of speech and of the press. The Times ran the article without a proviso that it did not necessarily agree with Seidman's statements.
In his December 30th article, "Let's Give Up on the Constitution," Seidman provides us with a fantasy scenario linked to the "fiscal cliff" gridlock in Congress and serves as the premise of his whole article:
Imagine that after careful study a government official - say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress - reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?
This is hypothesizing one would find in supermarket tabloids. All it lacks are Photoshopped pictures of the Founders hassling Obama in the Oval Office. It's time travel without the CGI.
Concerned that his fantasy might be taken out of context, Seidman attempts to provide a context.
Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles, wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather than the state legislatures.
Seidman provides other contextless examples, as well, citing John Adams supporting the Alien and Sedition Acts, Jefferson's notion that every constitution should expire after a single generation, his Louisiana Purchase, and other instances of presidents exceeding their constitutional authority, in addition to some Supreme Court decisions he alleges go contrary to the Constitution.
In the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution's defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text. Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.
So, because the Constitution was ignored, contradicted, or usurped in the past, we may as well scrap it and begin anew, fabricating a "compact" that answers the needs of our modern times. His reference to Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, a 17th century political tract that sanctions strong or authoritarian central governments, is evidence of Seidman's superficial grasp of our current situation. The federal government is assuredly on the road to a totalitarianism of the Fascist/Marxist kind, and at present the bewildering forest of laws, regulations, prohibitions, mandates, and powers has produced a chaos not easily mastered even by the most knowledgeable statist or informed politician.
Seidman then expresses a concern that by discarding the document that has so far haltingly guaranteed certain liberties, we shouldn't see the negation of those liberties:
This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.
You must wonder what Seidman imagines would protect freedom of speech, life, liberty, and property if there were no Constitutional restraints on what a government may or may not do. What "respect" have a succession of administrations and Congresses shown for them even with the Constitution? When has the New York Times ever shown "respect" for them? What dictator or tyrant has shown "respect" for them in the absence of such a Constitution? Without a codified set of defined liberties and enumerated powers that a government may not exceed, none of these liberties could be guaranteed or save from obviation.
Seidman begins to let his cat out of the bag.
And as we see now, the failure of the Congress and the White House to agree has already destabilized the country. Countries like Britain and New Zealand have systems of parliamentary supremacy and no written constitution, but are held together by longstanding traditions, accepted modes of procedure and engaged citizens. We, too, could draw on these resources.
So, we should model ourselves after countries that are full-fledged welfare states with no governmental restraints on what they can do for the "general welfare"?
Seidman endorses the linguistic analysis, subjectivist notion that the words in the Constitution (as well as in the Declaration of Independence) have no relevance to today's collectivist spirit and yearnings, that they can be stretched or "interpreted" to mean anything anyone wishes them to mean, and that obedience is the highest virtue a citizen can aspire to. After referring to the Constitution as a "poetic piece of parchment," and cautioning that "No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation," he writes:
If we acknowledged what should be obvious - that much constitutional language is broad enough to encompass an almost infinitely wide range of positions - we might have a very different attitude about the obligation to obey. It would become apparent that people who disagree with us about the Constitution are not violating a sacred text or our core commitments. Instead, we are all invoking a common vocabulary to express aspirations that, at the broadest level, everyone can embrace. [Italics mine]
Words have no absolute meanings, but obedience is an absolute obligation not to be questioned. And it can be predicted what our system of government would look like sans the shackles of constitutional obligation: authoritarian, and too likely, totalitarian. No checks and balances, no referenda, no debates, no discussions, no escape, mercy at the whim of a tyrant, and fiat law that would produce a chaos which a régime would answer with more controls and exact more stringent obedience on the part of the enslaved. The end result would be firing squads and concentration camps and a lottery of death.
After all, pleads Seidman:
If we are not to abandon constitutionalism entirely, then we might at least understand it as a place for discussion, a demand that we make a good-faith effort to understand the views of others, rather than as a tool to force others to give up their moral and political judgments.
How does adherence to the Constitution "force others to give up their moral and political judgments"? It doesn't, or shouldn't, force liberals, leftists, fascists, and Marxists to give up their political judgments. What it does - or should do - is prevent them from forcing their judgments on the rest of us. The federal government, however, has forcing their judgments on the rest of us for well over a century. Freedom from "constitutional bondage," concludes Seidman, would allow us to "give real freedom a chance."
Whose freedom? That of the statists, collectivists, and others who would be free to lock everyone into a single barracks for indentured servants? All 20thcentury tyrants have imposed dictatorial régimes as a means of granting themselves the freedom to act.
Hello, Mr. Seidman? Anybody home? Are you asking for an American version of Hitler's Enabling Act of 1933? His was passed by the Reichstag in an opera house. I think the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts would also be a perfect venue to vote ourselves into a dictatorship. Don't you agree? The New York Times certainly would.
Let us now turn to the Times' newly discovered TV station, Al Jazeera, which also broadcasts "all the news that fits." Fits what?
Lest anyone think that Al Gore doesn't believe in free enterprise, Bloomberg News has a shock in store for you:
The deal highlights Gore's makeover from career politician to successful businessman. His take from the Current TV sale is many times the maximum net worth of $1.7 million he reported while running for president in 1999. Besides investing in startups, Gore is on the board of Apple Inc., an adviser to Google Inc., according to his website biography, and a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield& Byers. Gore's holdings also include investments in Amazon.com Inc., EBay Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. through his Generation Investment Management LLP.
Most of Gore's investments are made through Generation Investment Management, which he co-founded with former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive David Blood. The most recent regulatory filing lists about $3.6 billion under management in 29 publicly traded companies. In addition, Generation Investment Management also has stakes in private ventures such as Nest Labs, a company formed by Apple Inc. alumni to create a thermostat that adapts to user behavior and saves money. The fund also backed Elon Musk's Solar City Corp. (SCTY), a developer of rooftop solar power systems that went public last month.
In April, Gore's fund was part of $110 million in venture capital invested in Harvest Power Inc., a closely held company that produces renewable energy from waste such as food scraps.
Gore can only strut as a "successful businessman" if the government subsidizes these companies, or passes legislation forcing everyone else to patronize them. So rich a man as Gore, in these times, can only "profit" if he's a member of what Ayn Rand called an "aristocracy of pull."
Forbes notes further that Gore is also tax-savvy.
Regardless of whether one lauds or criticizes Mr. Gore's actions in the sale to Al Jazeera, he is likely to pay U.S. taxes influenced in part by the fiscal cliff deal. Current TV has $41.4 million in debt and preferred holders with first dibs on $99.5 million, according to a 2008 regulatory filing. Current TV appears to be an LLC, and that will help Mr. Gore enormously.
How will Mr. Gore and his compatriots do? Initially named INdTV Holdings, the Current TV LLC was founded in 2002 by Mr. Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt. They appear to be shrewd investors. The LLC should facilitate a single tax on the deal, not the two taxes common to more established businesses. LLCs are tax reporting entities but the members pay tax on their share.
If Mr. Gore and other members sell their interests, their own tax basis in their interests will count. But whether Al Jazeera is buying assets from Current TV or membership interests from Mr. Gore and others, this should be a nice single-tax payday. Not every business seller is so lucky.
But, what about Al Jazeera?
Al Jazeera is a Qatar-funded "private" news organization that is acknowledged to be the propaganda vehicle for the Muslim Brotherhood. Having gained little or no traction in finding carriage or distribution in the U.S., it finally found a willing partner in Al Gore's insipid enterprise, Current TV. He has sold it to Al Jazeera for a reported $500 million, and will profit from the sale to the tune of $71 million. Al Jazeera's connections with the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism bother him not. WND reported, on announcement of the sale:
Al Jazeera this week announced a plan to establish a new U.S. cable news channel, tentatively call Al Jazeera America, utilizing the purchase of Current TV. The Qatar-financed network is hoping to retain and even increase Current TV's distribution rights in more than 40 million homes to broadcast its own new network.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E. are also major funders of terrorism, and also of programs now installed in American public schools to persuade students of the "benign" nature of totalitarian Islam. Gore failed to brainwash the world with his An Inconvenient Truth, although he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his failure, just as President Barack Obama was. But he found another way to skin the cat.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, rose to fame in the Arab world after Al Jazeera gave him his a major platform. Many regard Qaradawi as the de facto spiritual leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi achieved star status because of his regular sermons and interviews on Al Jazeera.
Gore must know this. But the truth is inconvenient or irrelevant and he'd rather not think about it.
Al Jazeera was founded with financing from the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who previously served as the network's chairman. The network is still financed largely from Qatar, where its headquarters are located. The current chairman of Al Jazeera is Sheik Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, the Qatari emir's cousin.
Keeping it in the family seems to be a theme shared by Al Jazeera and Current TV. About Current TV, Bloomberg News reported that:
The network's investors included funds controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Bruce Burkett and San Francisco money manager Richard Blum, according to the 2008 filing, when the company unsuccessfully sought to sell stock to the public. Blum is married to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from San Francisco.
But, back to Qatar.
The Qatar Foundation International, or QFI, a nonprofit group financed by the government of Qatar, last year gave Harlem's Hamilton Heights, a K-5 public school, a $250,000 grant to support the Arabic program for three years....
In addition to the Harlem school, WND found that QFI just awarded "Curriculum Grants" to seven U.S. schools and language organizations to "develop comprehensive and innovative curricula and teaching materials to be used in any Arabic language classroom." The schools include Bell High School, a Los Angeles public school, and Safford K-8in Arizona's Tucson Unified School District.
And, here's that family connection again:
QFI, based in Washington, D.C., is the U.S. branch of the Qatar Foundation, founded in 1995 by Qatari ruling emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Al Jazeera founder. Thani is still the group's vice-chairman, while his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairs the organization's board.
Why would Qatar be funding Arabic language programs in American schools? Why, to better enable students to read the Koranand its companion texts in the original tongue. It's fairly common knowledge among "Islamophobes" and other critics of Islam that what Islamic spokesmen say publically in English is quite the opposite of what they say in Arabic. This practice is called taqiyyaor Islamic double-speak. If an Islamic supremacist publically offers Israel or Obama or the West an olive branch, in private, behind doors closed to the MSM, it says it is offering a slave collar to infidels and a beheading sword to Jews.
WND reports further:
In January 2012, the foundation launched the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics under the guidance of Tariq Ramadan, who serves as the center's director. Ramadan is the grandson of the notorious founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. Ramadan was banned from the U.S. until 2010 when the Obama administration issued him a visa to give a lecture at a New York school.
It isn't just the Brotherhood that is offering us slave collars and beheading swords. It is our own President. And, don't wonder where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got her news about what was happening around the world and a clue about how to formulate her own dismal and failed policies. The New York Post had this interesting tidbit about the popularity of Al Jazeera in the administration:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee last March that viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the US" because it's real news."
"You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news, which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners," Clinton said.
The New York Times practically drools over the prospect of an Islamic propaganda machine "competing" with the MSM, although the MSM hasn't done too badly acting as Obama's de fact Ministry of Truth. Only, it isn't a Brotherhood-connected propaganda machine. It's just another news outlet that will help bring "truth" to the American viewing public. Qatar is mentioned in its report, "Al Jazeera English Finds an Audience" (January 31st, 2011), but no mention of that oil fiefdom's links to funding terrorism. Praising Al Jazeera during the protests in 2011 against President Hosni Mubarak, it noted:
Al Jazeera English, however, is indisputably unique. In recent days, the channel, an offshoot of the main Arabic-language Al Jazeera, has gained attention for its up-close, around-the-clock coverage of the protests in Cairo, Alexandria, sues, and other cities in Egypt.
Al Jazeera is "unique," without a doubt. It is the Brotherhood's propaganda outlet. The Times, guilty itself of recasting "facts" to fit its political proclivities and ignoring genuine facts that don't fit, can no longer distinguish between news and propaganda, thus explaining why it would applaud the debut of Al Jazeera in the U.S.
Mr. Gore demonstrated just how good a businessman he is. He sold his pitiful investment to an Islamic propaganda machine for more money than it was worth, because it had "journalistic muscle" and the money - read oil money -to compete with American news channels. In its January 2nd article on the pending sale, "Al Jazeera Seeks a U.S. Voice Where Gore Failed," the Times wrote:
Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news giant, has long tried to convince Americans that it is a legitimate news organization, not a parrot of Middle Eastern propaganda or something more sinister. It just bought itself 40 million more chances to make its case.
Al Jazeera on Wednesday announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore, a former vice president, and his business partners seven years ago. Al Jazeera plans to shut Current and start an English-language channel, which will be available in more than 40 million homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar....
A decade ago, Al Jazeera's flagship Arabic-language channel was reviled by American politicians for showing videotapes from Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. Now the news operation is buying an American channel, having convinced Mr. Gore and the other owners of Current that it has the journalistic muscle and the money to compete head-to-head with CNN and other news channels in the United States.
Well, there will be no more vilification of Herr Goebbels' - excuse me, Mr. Gore's -money moxie, nor of Al Jazeera, because it will have achieved "respectability" as a legitimate news outlet in the U.S.
Going forward, the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch - an extremely tough proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about the channel that persist to this day. "There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it's a ‘terrorist network,' " said Philip Seib, the author of The Al Jazeera Effect. Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news."
Twill be a challenge. Americans are already saddled with the MSM, which many no longer trust for objective news reporting, and sense are heavily biased and serve as the government's journalistic poodle on one hand and a pit bull on the other. The MSM are considered by many to be the collective mouthpiece of too many collectivist agendas that will affect their lives, wealth, standard of living, and future. They'd rather get their news from Internet weblogs and live-stream Internet channels. Still, oblivious to the trends, the New York Times plods on.
Al Jazeera, which has bureaus in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, intends to open several more in other American cities. "There's a major hole right now that Al Jazeera can fill. And that is providing an alternative viewpoint to domestic news, which is very parochial," said Cathy Rasenberger, a cable consultant who has worked with Al Jazeera on distribution issues in the past. However, she warned, "there is a limited amount of interest in international news in the United States."
Nowhere in this article, either, is there mention of Al Jazeera's terrorist connections, no hint of the propaganda character of its Islamic origins and purposes, no suggestion that Al Gore, an anti-wealth ex-politician and the Chicken Little of global warming, is going to make a questionable, hypocritical, and national security-violating bundle from the deal. Not a word of any of that is remarked on by the New York Times.
The New York Times has grown as maliciously senile and useless as the radicals and left-wing demonstrators from the 1960's and 1970's who chanted and shouted during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations to show their "solidarity" with the new generation of fascists and Marxists. It abandoned honest, objective journalism decades ago.
Perhaps it's time for it to consider voluntary retirement. It is no longer fit to read.
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.