Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The mystery of Current TV

Is Current TV a front for a lobbying operation?

There's something very strange about it.

According to its web site, Current TV is "a new breed of cross-platform media company that works with its young adult audience to create and distribute content that informs, enriches and inspires."

"We believe media should be a two-way conversation and our fully integrated broadcast and online platforms make that possible," the web site says. "Current TV and work together to connect young adults with what's going on in their world through a unique blend of citizen journalism and viewer participation, offering programming and content that's authentic, often surprising and consistently compelling."

If you want to be surprising and compelling, you can't do much better than sending two California girls to the border between China and North Korea for no good reason. It sure was surprising when they wandered into North Korea and ended up sentenced to twelve years of hard labor, and it certainly was compelling when Bill Clinton had to fly to Pyongyang and sit through a three-hour meeting and photo shoot with Kim Jong-Il to get them out of there.

A couple of years ago, America Wants To Know wrote about an education software business run by Neil Bush, brother of then-President George W. Bush. Ignite! Learning's investors included his parents, George and Barbara Bush, and an assortment of interesting characters including Kuwaiti businessman Mohammed Al Saddah, Chinese computer company executive Winston Wong, and Russian fugitive business tycoon Boris A. Berezovsky.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times and others, Neil Bush was able to persuade various companies and foundations to make large cash donations to local school districts, on the condition that the funds be used to purchase Ignite! Learning's education software.

Some of the companies that were inspired to donate included Aramco Services Co. (a division of Saudi Arabia's government-owned oil company), Apache Corp., BP and Shell Oil.

A cynic might think the Bush family had set itself up with a cozy little laundering operation so they could be compensated for their consulting services without having to comply with those awful laws about registering as a foreign lobbyist.

And a cynic might think that Current TV makes no sense at all unless it's a front that allows Al Gore to transact all kinds of business with all kinds of governments while pretending that its only business is "journalism."

That is cynical.

Did you know that when Laura Ling stood on the tarmac at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and thanked everyone for working so hard to bring her home, she thanked Dow Chemical and its chairman, Andrew Liveris?

"The connection between the chemical company and the Current TV journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, was not readily apparent," Associated Press writers Pamela Hess and Sharon Theimer reported Wednesday.

Mr. Liveris released a statement saying "Dow is appreciative of the opportunity to provide assistance in support of the release of Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee, by providing aircraft support. The Dow plane was used in different parts of the mission in recent days."

Dow's press release includes a little bit of information about the company. It has 150 manufacturing sites in 35 countries.

Perhaps a global company that needs good relations with governments in 35 countries finds Al Gore's Rolodex to be a valuable thing.

Perhaps Al Gore has found a nifty way to take money and do favors without anybody knowing exactly what he's getting or what he's doing.

If the Bush family is doing the same thing, even people who know aren't going to say a word about it.

It's the perfect crime.

The only thing is, those two California girls who stumbled or were lured across the border into North Korea required a rescue that makes a James Bond movie opening look understated. Now the brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il has photos and video of himself looking like the equal of a former president of the United States, hostage-takers the world over have a playbook for getting their phone calls returned by the State Department, and the effort to isolate North Korea and halt its nuclear ambitions has been made to look like a deadly practical joke.

Other than that, it went very well.

Be sure to tune in to Current TV, if you can find it, for more of their "content that informs, enriches and inspires." Thank goodness for the "new breed of cross-platform media company." Bill Clinton would be so bored just doing crossword puzzles.

Copyright 2009

Update on 8-6-09: The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports that it's Bill Clinton's Rolodex that Dow Chemical covets. Read about it here.