Letter from Al-jeers: Dave Marash compares Al Jazeera dictator to Michael Eisner, Jack Welsh

Generally, we like reading Q&A’s about as much as getting a rabies vaccine.

Occassionally, though, they result in genuinely fascinating stuff. marash_headshot.jpg

For instance, Adam L. Penenberg’s interview with Dave Marash, the former Nightline reporter who jumped to head Al Jazeera International here in the States.

An excerpt:

Q: Does it concern you that Al Jazeera International is owned wholly by a benevolent dictator, the Emir of Qatar [Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani]?

MARASH: So far, the Emir seems to me more like one of my first media “bosses,” William Paley, than two of my more recent American corporate chiefs. Paley was a classic entrepreneur who identified himself with the product, who daily held every employee to a “CBS standard,” that made it “the Tiffany network.”

I have also worked for Michael Eisner whose attention to product was dawrfed by his attention to both shareholder and Eisner benefit. It was Eisner who felt comfortable de-capitalizing his own company of half a billion dollars in stock options for himself, and showering his hire and former pal, the completely incompetent Disney employee Michael Ovitz, with an exit payoff of more than $100 million.

Then there was that lovely fellow at NBC, Jack Welch, who misspent corporate cash for his own retirement expenses, covered it up from his shareholders, poisoned the Hudson River with PCBs, and then stalled clean-up for years with his endless litigation and attempted evasion of responsibility.

The Emir, as I say, looks good by comparison.

Needless to say, a lively and wide-ranging interview. Given the recent headlines about bias in journalism, worth a read. Full transcript available on mediabistro.com sometime soon…