How easy it is to delude: GNN on Al Gore’s new TV channel.

Al Gore is starting a new TV channel called “Current”.

Anthony Lappé of the Guerilla News Network wrote about what he saw on Current. Right now, Current’s format is a series of shows (called “pods”) which are, ostensibly, what young people shot and edited.

  • “I’m looking forward to watching more “pods” from young people about what they think is important, not some jaded 50-year-old network hack.”—What reason is there to believe that these “hacks” aren’t in the editor seat? Or vetting what “pods” make it to air? There’s a lot of power in the editor seat and in merely selecting pre-fabricated clips to show.
  • “Current […] is best decribed as a participatory (mostly) apolitical youth-targeted short documentary network.”—Even if that’s a fair description of how it is now (which I doubt), networks often start with something very different than how they end up. TV networks use an audience (often minorities of some kind) to build an audience and name recognition and switch to serve the elite later. ABC, FOX, and UPN are examples of this pattern: FOX and UPN started by having shows featuring predominantly Blacks. FOX gained an audience and then switched to feature predominantly Whites. UPN started well after FOX and failed with its first attempt to feature primarily Whites, but will switch back when they get better ratings numbers.
  • “On election night 2000, Gore explained, Bush’s cousin was in the control room at Fox News talking on the phone to the candidate and his brother Jeb.”—But what’s more important is that:
    • Gore’s policies were virtually indistinguishable from those of Bush giving the public no reason to care about Gore or Bush (in fact roughly half of the eligible voters didn’t vote in that election);
    • the Florida scrub lists had gone unmentioned in the US despite Greg Palast talking about them in detail to reporters. CBS news bosses actually went to Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris to confirm what Palast had to say, but CBS accepted a simple blanket denial from Bush & Harris, and summarily dropped the story;
    • even Ralph Nader acknowledges that Gore actually won the election. This doesn’t stop Gore from despising Nader for daring to leverage his right to run, nor does it inspire Gore to push for a ranked voting system (like instant-run off voting or some Condorcet vote counting system) where so-called “spoilers” are eliminated.

    and nothing Gore wants to talk about addresses any of these far more salient points. Gore’s maligning of the corporate media comes off as whining because the Democrats are pursuing the same pro-corporate strategy that the Republicans are. But right now the Republicans are doing the work of legislating and the Democrats are following along, challenging very little of what the Republicans offer up.

Lappé does mention a host of important issues, none of which Gore addresses:

“We live in a time of unprecedented global crisis. Nearly one billion people on Earth live on one dollar a day. Each day, 40,000 children die of hunger or hunger-related diseases. The ice caps are melting. Over the last 50 years, nearly 50% of the oceans species have disappeared. The oil is running is out and we haven’t come close to figuring out what to do about it. The U.S. is fighting a multi-front war around the world. Yet few Americans seem overly worried about any of it, thanks in large part to a news media that devotes hour after hour to missing blondes, celebrity hijinks and partisan bickering.”

and Lappé links to Paul Jay’s attempt to get Independent World Television going but then chides IWT for “[being] overly populated with the usual suspects from the academic left”. So Phyllis Bennis, Salih Booker, Jeff Cohen, Laura Flanders, Linda Foley, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Bob McChesney, and Joanne St. Louis (who are all part of a video distributed by IWT on their homepage) are to be criticized because they’re commonly featured together in leftist works? This sounds to me like someone who isn’t terribly interested in what these people have to say (what should be the basis of criticism).