Al Jazeera bites back at Al Gore lawsuit
Al Jazeera America called a lawsuit filed Friday by former Current TV owners Al Gore and Joel Hyatt against the cable network "misleading" in a formal response.
The channel, not surprisingly, believes that the lawsuit is without merit. It also argues that the public statements from Gore and Hyatt's lawyers go well beyond the facts of the case.
"Some of their public statements, such as suggesting that Al Jazeera has committed 'fraud' or is wrongfully holding the escrow funds, are blatantly false and potentially misleading as to the true nature of this commercial dispute," a channel statement reads.
The Qatar-based network purchased Current at the very end of 2012 for a reported $500 million, with $100 million of the deal proceeds going to Gore, a 20 percent owner in Current.
At the center of the dispute is the return of part of that $500 million, kept in escrow as part of the deal in case Al Jazeera faced any liability from creditors to Current. The channel never says in its statement what those contracts were, but Current had had ongoing carriage disputes with AT&T and Time Warner Cable, which could account for them.
"The lawsuit and statement simultaneously issued by Al Gore’s celebrity trial lawyer were designed to grab headlines with misleading accusations like 'fraud' and 'price discount,'" the channel says. "The truth is that this is an ordinary commercial dispute, of the type that courts decide all the time."
Al Jazeera has secured the services of Andrew Deutsch of DLA Piper.
"The response will provide a clear explanation of Al Jazeera’s position and its right to indemnification from escrow funds," Deutsch said in a statement. "Al Jazeera welcomes the opportunity to resolve this commercial dispute before an impartial tribunal.”