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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Current TV, Al Gore's 'Media Outlet,' Adopts State Department Policy of Giving No Information Whatsoever on Detained Journalists

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 2:32 PM

click to enlarge rsz_current_thumb_250x333.jpg
Current TV hired this guy to keep the media out.
When Jill Carroll was kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq in 2006, the editor of the Christian Science Monitor quickly released a statement: "Jill's' ability to help others understand the issues facing all groups in Iraq has been invaluable," said editor Richard Bergenheim. "We are urgently seeking information about Ms. Carroll and pursuing every avenue to secure her release." The paper also reported the story of her abduction and published a plea from Carroll's family.

In the days following the detainment of Current TV reporters Euna Lee and Laura Ling by border patrol in North Korea, their media outlet -- owned by former journalist and Vice President Al Gore -- has adopted the blackout policy of the U.S. State Department. On the day that the detainment made the news, Current TV went so far as to hire security guards to keep media out of its office on 118 King Street in San Francisco.

Calls from SF Weekly have not been returned all week, and today, when I finally got somebody on the line, the answer was abrupt. "We're not giving any comments," said a Current TV employee whose name I didn't catch.

"Isn't it a little weird that you guys are a media outlet and you have given absolutely no information?" I asked.

"It's policy," the man answered quickly. "Have a good day." Then he hung up.

Questions remain about the nature of Lee and Ling's assigment, whether they worked out San Francisco, or had a producer here, and if Gore is doing anything to remedy the situation. The most interesting question, perhaps, is whether it was Gore who decided that Current would restrict the flow of information. If so, that tells us a little something about where Gore's priorities lie when it comes to a major mission of journalism -- to inform the public.

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Ashley Harrell


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