The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Al "Cassandra" Gore

After writing about the WaPo's embarrassing inclusion of a blatantly false attack in the opening sentence of a review of Al Gore's new book by an editor of a right-wing magazine (see how many red flags have popped up in just that brief description?) yesterday, it was good to run across articles by a few people who do it for a living. Good in the sense that people are talking about it, that is. In itself, it's just one more sterling example of our feckless Maureen Dowd press doing the bidding of reactionaries, whether consciously or not.

Unsurprisingly, the way Eric Boehlert and Bob Somerby are writing about the reaction to Gore's new book is "Press coverage of Gore's book validates his criticism of the press." But that's Bizarroworld for ya.

Gore does offer a specific critique of television and blames it for polluting the national conversation. Too much Anna Nicole Smith and Britney, says Gore. And of course he's right. The cable news nervous breakdown that was broadcast last Friday afternoon when Paris Hilton was taken back to jail simply proved Gore's point, and specifically that it's journalists who are driving the celebrity-as-news obsession, not news consumers. (MSNBC producers were heard screaming when Hilton first emerged from her home in handcuffs on Friday.) In the 24 hours after Friday's news broke, "Paris" was mentioned nearly 800 times on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, combined. That same day, Gen. Peter Pace, who oversees the war in Iraq, resigned as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His name was mentioned fewer than 100 times by the three cable news channels, according to

But the problems extend far beyond celebrity-obsessed cable news channels. Proof of the broken system? Just look at the Beltway media's reaction to Gore's book release. Thanks to the likes of ABC News, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, the coverage has, at times, been comically shallow, small, and dishonest. That's what's wrong with our "national conversation."

And Gore has the 2000 campaign scars to prove it, having suffered some of the most egregious media cheap shots in modern political history. (Inventing the internet, anybody?) Indeed, it's no exaggeration to say Gore is out on book tours today instead of sitting in the Oval Office because of the wildly dishonest press coverage he received during that presidential campaign, in which he was depicted as a stiff, phony bore who lied.

That lazy narrative still sticks to this day.

And as Somerby correctly predicted:

It’s obvious how it’s going to go as the press corps pretends to discuss Al Gore’s book. Gore has said our discourse is broken—and our pundits are going to rush out to prove it. Yesterday, Dowd played cosmic clown in that inexcusably stupid Times column (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/07). And omigod! A few hours later, this sad discussion occurred on Tucker. No, we didn’t invent this exchange. Yes, this was actually said:

CARLSON: [Al Gore’s] book is out this week. You were in politics for many years. Like Al Gore, you are now out of politics. Why would you write a book like this if you were Al Gore?

DICK ARMEY: There are two reasons. One, I could take—my natural guess is that he is still bitter and angry because he lost the election and he is fulminating. The other is it could be a strategic move. He could be sensing that within his party, within his base, there is not a real high profile out there on the field of candidates and that if he comes out and speaks strongly of his anger against this presidency, that, in fact, there could be an emergent draft Al Gore.

CARLSON: You really think there is a political element to this.

ARMEY: Is—there’s a political element to everything Al Gore has ever done! He has politicized science. He graduated from Harvard or Yale or wherever and he had a choice, being competent or being political. He chose political. He has never been competent. He has corrupted science. He will corrupt diplomacy. . .

It gets worse. Much, much worse. And somehow they never actually get around to discussing the book. Which is the ostensible topic of discussion.

Because if you want a rational and dispassionate person to talk through an issue in a thoughtful manner, all you have to do is ring up..... Dick Armey. One of the most notoriously inept, partisan, and ethically challenged congressmen of the 1990s. And how does he react to Gore's candid assessment of the horseshit that passes for acceptable political discourse today? By demonstrating that what passes as political discourse today is a load of horseshit.