Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Washington (Not New York) Post Shows Unnecessary Contempt For Gore

Washington (not New York) Post television writer Lisa de Moraes couldn't have been more clear.

She wanted to ridicule Al Gore.

In her coverage of Gore's new cable television network, Current, de Moraes couldn't withhold her utter disdain, flicking off sarcastic one-liners at every turn.

Why? More on that later. First, check out her incredible wit at the former vice president's expense:

"Gore thinks he can lure young viewers to his new cable TV network by having them contribute their own videos," she wrote. "And it's a really chepa way to program a network."

"This voice-giving would be accomplished with a blend of interactivity and populism," she wrote. "Don't you wish you'd been there -- I know I do."

"Gore indicated his commitment to the Web model by wearing a charcoal-gray suit and no tie -- the official special-occasion uniform of dot-commers," she wrote.

"Videos ... eventually will comprise more than half of the programming," she wrote. "Where I come from that's called 'cheap labor.'"

Book her at your local comedy club, folks.

***

Why did de Moraes show such utter disdain for Gore? Because she's following a well-worn script our mainstream (or as conservatives say, "liberally biased") media loves to tell: "Gore is a kook."

The mainstream media has been peddling this story for years, most notably back in 1999, when it allowed Americans to think that Gore had claimed he had "invented the Internet." I know you think that Gore actually uttered those words, but as I will show you below, he never did. And other great "Gore is a kook" stories could also be debunked pretty easily, although the Washington (not New York) Post and the New York Times didn't seem to care. When it comes to covering Gore, from the clothes he wears (and why) to his powerful address critical of President Bush's Iraq strategy to his endorsement of Howard Dean (and why didn't he first call Joe Lieberman?), the mainstream media loves to tell the tale.

"Gore is a kook," is sort of like "The Curse of the Bambino." It's easy to tell, and pleasing (to some) to hear. Another thing they both have in common: They're both myths.

***

Let's go back to March, 1999, when the media decided that it would ignore the truth and peddle the conservative spin on Gore "inventing the Internet."

It all began with a March 9 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Note that Blitzer moves on without missing a beat.

BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and international issues in a minute, but let's just wrap up a little bit of the politics right now.

Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?

GORE: Well, I will be offering -- I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.

But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

During a quarter century of public service, including most of it long before I came into my current job, I have worked to try to improve the quality of life in our country and in our world. And what I've seen during that experience is an emerging future that's very exciting, about which I'm very optimistic, and toward which I want to lead.

BLITZER: On this political front, the polls currently see Governor George Bush of Texas and even Elizabeth Dole ahead of you in a hypothetical race nearly two years away from today. Why do you think that's the situation?

GORE: Well, what will decide the outcome of the presidential contest in the year 2000 will not be public opinion polls but the power of ideas, the quality of leadership, the compelling vision that I will offer for the American people and how they respond to it. It won't be decided by public opinion polls.

***

Blitzer didn't skip a beat during the interview. Why? Because it was well-established fact that within his role in Congress, Gore had championed transforming the Arpanet -- a government-only vehicle -- into the Internet, something the public could use. There are literally dozens of Internet experts who have been interviewed confirming this, and even Gore's colleagues, including the likes of Newt Gingrich, agreed that Gore was a leader on the issue.

The immediate reaction from the press was ho-hum, because what Gore actually said was factual. Was it the most articulate wording? No. But in a world where George W. Bush is our leader, the way the press was willing to go along with the conservative spin of Gore's statement is incomprehensible.

Let's look at the immediate reaction from the press*:

-- March 9: In its on-air promotions for the taped interview, CNN showed no sign of thinking that Gore had “made news” with his comment.

-- March 10: The Washington Post ran a full report about the Gore-Blitzer session. But the paper only discussed Gore’s remarks on U.S. relations with China.

-- March 10: Associated Press dispatches about Gore’s interview completely ignored his Internet comment.

-- March 10: Hotline ran extensive excerpts from the Q&A, but omitted the Internet remark altogether.

-- March 11: The Washington Times reviewed the interview in his “Inside Politics” column, but only mentioned what Gore had said about early campaign polling.

In other words, this wasn't news -- not even for the conservative Washington Times.

But then the conservatives pounced:

Rep. Dick Armey put out a press release on March 11 mocking Gore for claiming he created the Internet -- a subtle change to what Gore actually said. Rep. James Sensenbrenner also sent out a press release that day, titled “DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR: VICE PRESIDENT GORE TAKES CREDIT FOR CREATING THE INTERNET.” Sensenbrenner later that day was quoted by the AP: “Gore taking credit for creating the Internet certainly gives new meaning to the term ‘March madness.’” The AP story was headlined “Republicans pounce on Gore’s claim that he created the Internet.” -- the effort to take Gore's comments out of context had begun.

On March 12, AP quoted a press release from Republican National Chairman chairman Jim Nicholson. “Al Gore the father of the Internet?” he asked. Gore was “claim[ing] credit for other people’s successes.” On March 12, CNN's Lou Dobbs called Gore’s remarks “a case study tonight in delusions of grandeur,” and said Gore “apparently thinks he’s the Father of the Internet.”

Within a day, the "liberal media" was using conservative spin, rather than referring to Gore's actual words. This is particularly embarrasing for CNN's Dobbs, since the interview took place on his network.

A scandal was born, and the Washington press corps now began flooding the news wires with stories about Gore's comment -- except most of these were using the conservatives' spin phrasing of what Gore said, rather than Gore's original words.

USA Today used the phrase on March 15 (editorial headline: “Inventing the Internet”). Al Kamen used the phrase in his Washington Post column (he quoted a joke by a GOP spokesman). On March 16, Hardball’s Chris Matthews mocked Gore for saying he “invented the Internet.” On March 17, Judy Woodruff, hosting CNN’s Inside Politics, chided Gore as “inventor of the Internet.” The embellished phrase reached the Los Angeles Times on March 18; the Boston Globe on March 20; the AP on March 22.

-- This gets at the crux of what JABBS is about: lazy mainstream journalists accepting conservative spin as fact.

Also pushing the envelope was The Washington Times, which as I noted above initially ignored Gore's comment on the Internet, then ran four op-ed pieces and a policy editorial from 3/16 to 3/19 on how Gore claimed to "invent the Internet" -- the preferred conservative spin phrasing.

John McCaslin, March 16: [T]he Gore 2000 campaign…office has already gotten a taste of what it’s in for after Mr. Gore recently took credit for inventing the Internet.

Ralph Z. Hallow, March 16: Relaxed and ready to enjoy his second and better-prepared go at the GOP nomination, [Steve Forbes] joked in an interview yesterday about Vice President Al Gore’s claim of having invented the Internet.

Rowan Scarborough, March 16: “This one is going to stick,” said William Kristol, editor and publisher of the conservative Weekly Standard. ‘Al Gore. Inventor of the Internet.’”

Editorial, March 18: Mr. Gore has some explaining to do to parents. As everyone now knows, Mr. Gore invented the Internet, which means the vice president is responsible for making hard-core pornography available to elementary schoolchildren at the local library.

Robert Tyrell, March 19: Did you hear Trent Lott is claiming to have invented the paper clip? Some think he is making a joke at the expense of Al Gore’s megalomaniacal claims about inventing the Internet.

How well-entrenched did the conservative spin of Gore's interview become. Consider two stories from June 2000 about problems with the Gore presidential campaign:

USA Today, June 2, 2000: A couple of Gore gaffes, including his assertion that he “invented” the Internet, didn’t help.

Newsday, June 16, 2000: It was another gaffe in a series of missteps so far in Gore’s campaign—including…his widely mocked assertion that he “invented” the Internet.

***

Is it any surprise that de Moraes unnecessarily ridiculed Gore?

She was just following the lead of her colleagues, telling a well-worn tale -- a myth as valuable at "The Curse of the Bambino."


* With thanks to dailyhowler.com

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am not sure of the point here.

no question the media and many others overplayed the internet statement.....even Gore himself parodied it.

However, Gore is a kook? Never heard that before but maybe that is as good a word for him as any other. Curse of Bambino myth as a comparison-huh?

I would say he is a guy who came across as uncomfortable in his own skin (as opposed to the ridiculously confortable GWB in 1999), appears condescending in how he speaks about many topics, was a somewhat poor campaigner, and had a tendency to under or over do things (that kiss-ugh).

I have no idea what will come of this new venture-Gore is clearly a smart guy and he may very well succeed at this. What Gore wasnt was a good presidential nominee. Virtually anyone alive should have been able to beat Bush in 2000 (before everyone screams and yells, i am talking a landslide here). You can choose to lay blame for his personality "quirks" or whatever, on the conservative or lazy media. I believe it is more than that.

Dont get me wrong-I do not dislike Gore. But it says something that the one time he didnt look and speak like a programed robot was in his "from the heart" concession speech in 2001.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous alias "cutiepie" johnson said...

I think the point is that the so-called "liberal" media attacked Gore over the Internet comments (as well as his Alpha male suits, the Love Story story, whehter he ever lived on a Tennesee farm, etc.) and now the story today on his new cable television channel follows suit. Hardly "liberal bias."

Meanwhile, if I can be so bold, the same "liberal" media seems unwilling to throw the gauntlet down on various key Republicans. DeLay is shown to be a hyprocrite (comparing his Schiavo beliefs with the similar situation with his father), but the story goes nowhere because DeLay and the talk radio folks call it "liberal media bias." The story came and went in a matter of a couple of days.

Imagine what would have happened if Gore, Hillary, Kennedy, Dean, etc., had been the main player in the story. We'd be hearing about it on every radio show, watching it on Fox and on Hardball and Scarborough, etc. It would be a huge story by comparison.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with above blogger in saying that Gore would have made a fine president.
He lost the election he won by a technicality. Nonetheless, the reason Gore didn't win by a landslide was because the Bush spinners labeled him as a "waffler." The reason Kerry lost was similarilly because the Bush spinners labeled him as a "flip-flopper" (not to mention the inexcusable trashing of his Vietnam record).
The names had nothing to do with honesty or truthfulness, but were successful in duping a large enough portion of an ill-informed electorate.
In 2008, we will hear the Republicans label Hillary or you name the candidate as we can almost guess a "two-facer" a "panderer" "teflon" or "slick" (wait a minute we heard that one before). You get the idea. Pick a word to represent shifting positions.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason gore lost or didnt win by a landslide is because of conservative (and media) spin? How misguided. Spin is part of the political process, particularly during an election. If you cant get a candidate who can stand the heat, they shouldnt win anyway.

Spin? How about countering spin. Gore came from a period of virtually unprecedented peace and prosperity, people had never felt better about their positions in life, the younger crowd was galvanized by wall street gains etc., you were part of a 2 term presidential administration that oversaw a tech boom the likes of which had never been seen.....there was little war of consequence (at least to the minds of most americans)...... and he was up against a novice from texas who had failed at running a baseball team, had family wealth and a claim to fame that his dad was a one term president who lost an election he had no business losing. And you are telling me that Gore was spun out of the win. The republicans could have come up with a Gore molested his kids scenario and he should have still won.

Misguided. I hope that people that have this type of view about the last two elections (that the dems really won but were spun out of office or something) are not the people deciding how to deal with the next election. Otherwise we will be having this same conversation in another four years.

BTW-Hilary is another poor choice for presidential nominee (as many people absolutely hate her as like her). she would be a far better VP candidate because she would bring along many women and if the pres candidate was good, the men would still vote for the ticket. however, i do not know that anyone would want her as a VP. tough call---we will see.

The way things are going, with congress showing its true colors more than ever, the dems will be in a ripe position to grab the presidency. they may be able to do so simply by the right screwing up. but they may have to actually "win" the battle, something they have shown to be inept at the last two elections.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous joe said...

JABBS' point has nothing to do with why Gore lost the presidency.

The point is that the conservatives twisted his words, and then the conservative "spin" became the mantra of the lazy, inept mainstream press.

It's become clear that Gore has been stereotyped as being stiff, as being a serial exaggerator, as being a "kook," as JABBS puts it. But that stereotyping is not just occurring on Rush Limbaugh. It's coming in The Washington Post and The New York Times.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous cb said...

I think Gore is just bored at this point -- did you read the last New Yorker profile of him and Tipper? Idle wealthy with too many thoughts and no idea what to do with himself -- so if he wants to launch a new network, why not? Will it be laughable? Probably, but then most ideology and protest-driven methods of communication are, whether left or right. The person who can listen to either Sean Hannity or Randi Rhodes with a straight face, well, I'd hate to play poker with them.

Now I'm off to start calling right-wing talk shows and remind them that Al Gore DID help invent the Internet.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that's just silly.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think JABBS point does partially incorporate Gore losing the 2000 election due to the Right's painting of him as a bloated nut-case. If he won the election in 2000 we would not be having this discussion, would we?
Then the Right's phooney depiction of Gore was extrapolated to represent that of the entire Democratic party, diminishing Kerry's chances in the last election.
You want the true reason Gore "lost" in 2003? Because just enough conservative Christian ghouls were irritated enough by Clinton's sexual frolicks to vote for Bush on the belief he would bring morality back to the White House.
Such voters succeeded at electing Bush a second time.
If the spin is dishonest and fraudulent, and a biased media picks up on it, then I cannot blame the candidate for being too "weak" to win the battle.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Made error on my above post. I obviously meant Gore "lost" in 2000, not 2003.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous blackdog said...

wow when your in the big leaques playin with the big boy's i guess you've got to make sure the camera's not on you when you need to adjust your package,and or watch what you say inside the locker room. cause some of these bastards will rake you over coal's for something you kinda said but didn't mean. it's all one big game of bullcrap have a nice day

7:30 PM  
Blogger IT Lassie said...

David, thanks for your comment in my blog. I never really looked at this topic in-depth, and posted the story about the Internet award more for the entertainment purposes. I do realize that for Americans, this whole thing is of great political significance. Either way, whatever Mr. Gore really said definitely cannot be compared to what Mr. Bush is regularly saying.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Sandi said...

The following you highlited in your post linked above:
"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Sorry to rain on your parade, but replacing "invented" with "created" doesn't improve his false contention one bit as the internet was formed in 1969 and protocol changed in 1983 made it what it is today. Below is from Wikipedia "Creation of the Internet"

The cores forming the Internet started out in 1969 as the ARPANET, created by the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Some early research which contributed to the ARPANET included work on decentralised networks, queueing theory, and packet switching. On January 1, 1983, the ARPANET changed its core networking protocols from NCP to TCP/IP, marking the start of the Internet as we know it today.

Cordially, Sandi
.

4:47 PM  

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