Chalk up another HUGE disappointment for Progressives who value truth and an intelligent range of public discourse.
CurrentTV, the only place in the American mass media that consistently presented a progressive viewpoint, and that dared raised subjects like Occupy Wall Street and the War on Drugs that no other news outlet would touch, is going to be acquired as the foothold for Al Jazeera in the United States media markets.
Many here will remember the excitement and hope we felt when Current hired Keith Olbermann and put him back on the air when he wouldn't kowtow to the defense contractor General Electric-owned MSNBC. Keith seemed to have trouble adjusting to the new circumstances and was out after a year, but having his voice back on the air sure made a lot of us feel better after the debacle of the 2010 election.
Remember too the high profile international incident when two Current journalists were held by North Korea and sentenced to 12 years hard labor for the crime of trying to report on conditions in that authoritarian hellhole. That was Current at its best taking risks no one else would, to bring the stories that the rest of the media ignored.
Lately, I've loved watching Jennifer Granholm and Ellot Spitzer on Current, and hope they can find new venues for their intelligent and fearless analysis soon, if in fact, Obama can not find a place for them in his second administration. Even Cenk Uygur and Gavin Newsom have had some good shows in the last year, covering subjects with passion and common sense rarely seen elsewhere.
It's too bad that this sale will be interpreted to mean that there is no market or audience for Progressive programming. Rachel Maddow's great ratings and new experiments like Showtime's Oliver North's Untold Story of America tell a different story. Good God, even Bill Maher is still on the air after all these years peddling the same schtick he had during the Clinton impeachment!
It's frightening to me to see the Overton window taking another giant step to the right as we give up ground on the more leftward margins, and that American "mainstream" discourse more and more becomes what would have been considered radically conservative in the 1970's and 80's. Is anyone with views to left of Brian Williams destined to be a crazy outcast at the fringes, like, God bless him, George Carlin?
It's also too bad that Current's association with Vice President Gore will also make its "failure" a butt of jokes by those that should know better, and likely be used to further discredit by association the progressive position on climate change. In the rest of the world, the national media and news gathering functions are not left entirely to the soulless logic of quarterly profit and loss. Like the ever-threatened PBS, Current was a small, but important voice bringing diversity to the mainstream echo chamber.
If there were any justice and America actually was a vibrant democracy instead of a corrupt, decaying oligarchy, there would have been a way for Current to survive and prosper. But when our very political system has become a "pay to play" exercise for billionaires, it is not surprising that a voice which didn't toe the financial capitalist party line would get pushed out of existence. Better to let the public's right to know be controlled by a handful of self-serving, rapacious billionaires than risk horrible state-controlled totalitarian socialism, the likes of the BBC or Canadian or Australian broadcasting systems. Does anyone even remember that under FDR's New Deal the government hired journalists, photographers and filmmakers to capture and tell the story of what the American people were going through in the Depression?
I already hear the catcalls from the right: that there's no difference between Current's proud progressive legacy and its "anti-American" "terrorist" future. Even now as the Obama administration is on the verge of giving the disgraced criminal Rupert Murdoch even more power over the rapidly diminishing number of independent news outlets in this country, one of the last, truly different voices is snuffed out.
I wish Al Jazeera luck, but can't imagine that too many "real 'Merrikuns" will be watching "Islamic terrorists" for their daily news. Maybe some fabulous new progressive news platform will soon spring forth on the back of YouTube and social media and do a better job of reaching people than Current ever could: some place where stories about economic inequality, the decline of labor and the middle class, the corruption of money in politics, failed policies like the War on Drugs, and glimpses at other cultures not tainted by imperialist prejudice might find a broad and enthusiastic audience.
Arianna Huffington has AOL, but seems to have gotten lost somewhere on the way to her next party. We've got DailyKos Radio. Can DailyKos TV be very far behind? What would the Saturday Morning Hate Mail look like if Markos were able to exchange sufficient intimacies with George Soros to get a 24/7 streaming video site up and running?