In Selling Current to Al Jazeera, Al Gore Reportedly Gets Paid $100 Million

AL GORE Launches Current TV
AL GORE Launches Current TV

Al Gore has already won a Nobel Peace Prize, an Academy Award and a presidential popular vote. Now, by losing his foundering progressive media outlet, Current TV -- sold to Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera in a deal announced on Wednesday -- Gore appears to have gained a substantial financial windfall: According to The New York Times, Al Jazeera paid around $500 million for Current; based on Gore's 20 percent stake, that suggests he stands to make $100 million.

In a detail sure to delight conservative critics, the Times reports that "Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1." Nonetheless, the deal didn't close until Jan. 2, ensuring that Gore will have to pay what President Obama might call his "fair share."

The former vice president was already quite rich. In October, The Washington Post reported that his wealth was estimated at $100 million -- up 5,000 percent from when he left government in 2001 with assets of $2 million. A New York Times profile described Gore's 20-room, 10,000-square-foot colonial mansion in Nashville, shaded by magnolia trees and cooled and heated by geothermal wells; a San Francisco luxury apartment and a $9 million seaside villa near Santa Barbara were also mentioned.

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The upsurge in Gore's fortunes was attributed to his investments in clean energy at a time when the Obama administration was keen to increase government spending on this sector. According to The Washington Post, "Fourteen green-tech firms in which Gore invested received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama's historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money."

Current was the brainchild of Gore and Joel Hyatt, a legal services entrepreneur. Launched in the summer of 2005, it was initially conceived as a viewer-generated alternative to mainstream media, relying on video submissions and documentaries. In 2011, the channel changed its format, hired ex-MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann and began showing more traditional progressive programming, with hosts including former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. But Current failed to attract many viewers, despite additional format changes, and Al Jazeera acquired the network with the intention of shutting it down in order to launch and distribute a new channel, Al Jazeera America.

Publicly, Gore evinced no disappointment with this turn of events. In a press release, he and Hyatt announced, "We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV":

Since its founding in 2005, Current has grown into a national network available in nearly 60 million homes, offering thought-provoking commentary and Emmy and Peabody award-winning programming. Current Media was built based on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.

A world in which even a failed media venture can bring its owners enormous rewards.

Why Is Al Jazeera Buying Al Gore's Current TV?
Why Is Al Jazeera Buying Al Gore's Current TV?