Joy Behar made her first public comments Friday night on the takeover of her network, Current TV, by the Arab-owned Al Jazeera.
The comments came on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in a conversation that veered into at least one area where we had to question Leno’s judgement, when he made a remark — intending to be funny — about Jews controlling the media.
First, the background: The Mideast media company, based in Doha, Qatar, is buying Current from co-owners Al Gore and Joel Hyatt for a whopping $500 million. Behar, 70 — who’s best-known as a long-running co-host on “The View” — has her own talk show on Current, “Joy Behar: Say Anything,” airing Monday through Thursday nights at 9/8c.
The show premiered just last July, and since the takeover deal was announced just days ago, there’s been no word yet about the fate of the Behar show under the channel’s new owners. On “The Tonight Show” Friday night, Behar indicated she doesn’t know what will happen.
“What happened to Current TV?” asked Leno, who then joked, “Osama bin Laden’s your new boss! What happened?”
As late-night guests often do, Behar side-stepped the question by joking about it. “Yes,” she said, “Yes, to me it’s like — Al Gore, Al Jazeera, Al Pacino — it’s all the same thing to me!”
“You know, I just work there. I’m learning Farsi!” she said, oddly naming a language that is not widely spoken by Qataris, most of whom speak Arabic. Farsi is basically Persian — the language spoken in Iran, among other places.
And then Leno said, “So much for Jews controlling the media!”
“Not anymore!” Behar responded.
If we may insert an editorial opinion here: Sure, we know the two were joking. But this Jews-controlling-the-media thing is an ugly stereotype, and we could have done without this line of comedy on “The Tonight Show.” But as we’re well-aware — just about anything goes in the world of comedy these days, and on television.
Leno then asked Behar about the story that circulated late this week that right-wing firebrand Glenn Beck had tried to purchase Current TV, but liberal Al Gore wouldn’t hear of it. This story originated from Beck himself.
“Let me ask you something,” Leno said. “I heard Glenn Beck tried to buy Current TV.”
“That would have been a nightmare!” declared Behar, whose liberal leanings are well-known.
“Which is worse, Al Jazeera or Glenn Beck for you?” Leno asked.
And then Behar answered “Al Jazeera,” which was such a curious response (especially when you hear it in context) that we have a feeling she meant to say Glenn Beck, but misspoke.
Here’s that answer in context: “I think Al Jazeera … I mean, that would be like, you know, let’s say David Letterman bought NBC. How would you like it?,” she asked Leno.
Our take on the future of Joy’s show on Current: We have a feeling Al Jazeera is going to completely remake Current. Al Jazeera is buying what is essentially a failing cable operation for half-a-billion dollars — a shockingly high price when you consider that Current was averaging something like 20,000 viewers on a typical day (in the TV business, that’s the same as having zero — in either case, you can’t sell commercial time based on a lowly audience like that). With big changes in the offing, Behar’s show is probably toast.