In all the noise of the past week, with various individuals and groups saying regrettable things in a unfortunate ways, there has been a misconception created, that Conservatives are just the same as Liberals when it comes to emotional instability. But I think there are still significant differences, and so it is appropriate to re-examine a major figurehead of the Liberal movement, a man who holds considerable sway among the Left, and whose total lack of either candor or consistent principles makes it a chilling thought indeed, to consider that he very nearly came to claim the White House.
The following comments were made in a prepared speech to The Media Center’s “We Media” conference last Wednesday in New York City. The speaker was Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, and present co-owner of a small independent television network, and celebrated speaker for both the Democratic Party and the “Progressive” political movement.
“Are we still routinely torturing helpless prisoners, and if so, does it feel right that we as American citizens are not outraged by the practice? And does it feel right to have no ongoing discussion of whether or not this abhorrent, medieval behavior is being carried out in the name of the American people?”
Just in case you ever wondered whether Al Gore and Michael Moore have experimented with the Mind Meld, I present this exhibit in hysteria and rumor-mongering.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was - at least for a short time - a quality of vividness and clarity of focus in our public discourse that reminded some Americans - including some journalists - that vividness and clarity used to be more common in the way we talk with one another about the problems and choices that we face. But then, like a passing summer storm, the moment faded.”
A telling comment. The moment Gore seems to prize so highly, was when Mayor Nagin predicted 10,000 dead in New Orleans, and was screaming obscenities on a radio show at the President. It seems Gore is fondly reminiscing about the unbalanced Cindy Sheehan yelling about New Orleans being “occupied”. In those few days, the MSM picked up on that hysteria and began to parrot false rumors and harangue the President for not somehow foreseeing the disaster. Once it became obvious that the rescue and relief efforts were effective, and that casualties were far below predictions, and that local and state officials were far more culpable for the conditions creating the chaos and delay, then as Mr. Gore said, ”the moment faded”. Leave it to Al Gore to miss a mob frenzy.
“Our founders knew all about the Roman Forum and the Agora in ancient Athens. They also understood quite well that in America, our public forum would be an ongoing conversation about democracy in which individual citizens would participate not only by speaking directly in the presence of others -- but more commonly by communicating with their fellow citizens over great distances by means of the printed word. Thus they not only protected Freedom of Assembly as a basic right, they made a special point - in the First Amendment - of protecting the freedom of the printing press.”
This is a great irony. Since newspapers and television networks broadcast to the public but do not allow for effective feedback and true communication from the public, this statement effectively proves that the Internet is the true great hope for democratic speech. Yet somehow Gore misses that obvious truth, and instead tries to build this statement into support for the chattering hairpieces of the television networks.
“Newspapers are hemorrhaging readers and, for the most part, resisting the temptation to inflate their circulation numbers. Reading itself is in sharp decline, not only in our country but in most of the world. The Republic of Letters has been invaded and occupied by television.”
Note that Gore makes no attempt to discover the reason why newspapers are losing readership. He simply assumes that the problem is with the public, rather than the bias of the newspapers. Note also that while Gore takes a distinct dislike to the syndicates and conglomerates of some cable and radio networks, he pays no attention at all to the growing monopoly of newspaper syndicates, who tightly control content and allowed opinion in their papers.
“Television first overtook newsprint to become the dominant source of information in America in 1963. But for the next two decades, the television networks mimicked the nation's leading newspapers by faithfully following the standards of the journalism profession. Indeed, men like Edward R. Murrow led the profession in raising the bar.”
Only a Liberal could possibly believe that the television news of the 1970s and later was, in any way, honorable or observant of a professional standard.
“It was universally understood that the ultimate check and balance for American government was its accountability to the people. And the public forum was the place where the people held the government accountable. That is why it was so important that the marketplace of ideas operated independent from and beyond the authority of government.”
A distinctly ironic statement. That statement is completely true, and proves the need and virtue of the blogosphere. Yet Gore uses this statement not to support the New Media, but to try and defend the Old media oligarchy, as we saw for so many years under the Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw regimes.
“Instead of the easy and free access individuals had to participate in the national conversation by means of the printed word, the world of television makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation today.”
Again ironic. That statement, taken by itself, is very true, and would be a valuable caution to network executives and television managing editors. Instead, Mr. Gore misses the fact that the “world of television” which has so cut people off from the information and discourse they need is largely comprised of and controlled by the likes of CBS, CNN, and the Mainstream Media.
“Inexpensive metal printing presses were almost everywhere in America. They were easily accessible and operated by printers eager to typeset essays, pamphlets, books or flyers. Television stations and networks, by contrast, are almost completely inaccessible to individual citizens and almost always uninterested in ideas contributed by individual citizens. Ironically, television programming is actually more accessible to more people than any source of information has ever been in all of history. But here is the crucial distinction: it is accessible in only one direction; there is no true interactivity, and certainly no conversation.”
In that statement Mister Gore has, however accidentally, touched on the value and importance of blogs. Though the word “blog” never once escaped Gore’s lips, nor could the man who thought so much of himself that he implied he played a leading role in making the Internet a reality, bring himself to acknowledge the New Media and the effect of citizen journalists. So it is, that every salient point made by Mr. Gore is established by accident rather than intent.
“ Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves.”
Personally, I find Rush Limbaugh a bit of a pompous sort, and more than once he has handled himself in a manner I found unhumorous. That said however, I have heard Limbaugh’s show enough times to know that the man takes pride in open debate on most days, even keeping Fridays open to the topic of the audience’s choice. His callers regularly include Liberals and opponents to Limbaugh’s position, who are invited (“head of the line”, promises Rush) to express themselves and who are never insulted, degraded, or cut off so long as they can remain civil. Comparing Rush’s show to others like Larry King or Al Franken, I maintain that it is a particularly false claim to say that Rush Limbaugh has ever been an advocate of Hate, nor tolerant of hate speech; Rush has always maintained an atmosphere of tolerance and open speech, and far more than any show on the Left with a comparable audience . While his opinions are strong and he will mock the Left for contradictions and hypocrisy, not once has Limbaugh been guilty of the kind of violence advocated by Alec Baldwin in 1999, nor the race baiting advocated by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, nor the outright lies promoted regularly by Moore and Sheehan. In no sense can Mr. Gore’s charge be said to stand up to inspection, nor has Gore properly acknowledged the extreme hatred voiced so often by the Left.
And for Talk Radio in general, it truly speaks volumes that where he ought to be praising the first truly interactive current-events forum in media, both for its commercial success, accessibility and even field for participation, Mr. Gore instead derides the entire venue. Note further that Gore does not dare to suggest what he would put in its place, knowing that the sheer idiocy of specifically advocating the return of the monolith of Big Media Networks would be too much for even him to pursue with a straight face.
“The present executive branch has made it a practice to try and control and intimidate news organizations: from PBS to CBS to Newsweek. They placed a former male escort in the White House press pool to pose as a reporter - and then called upon him to give the president a hand at crucial moments. They paid actors to make phony video press releases and paid cash to some reporters who were willing to take it in return for positive stories. And every day they unleash squadrons of digital brownshirts to harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the President”.
That statement right there, I submit, is prima facia evidence that Al Gore has indeed gone over the edge. Not only are the charges baseless and without evidence, the irony of complaining about the blogs’ style of commentary by comparing them to Nazis is priceless. Never mind that blogs have nothing of the sort of resources of the major networks or the political parties, or that there are easily hundreds of blogs, on both the Right and Left which regularly criticize the President, his policies and his nominations. Mr. Gore has managed to indict his own positions, even as he attempts to slander the myriad individuals who write their own blogs without direction or organized control. The blogs are the sole independent reporters and analysts in the modern media, and Mr. Gore tacitly admits as much by his attempt to slam them all with the same vitriolic tantrum.
“ As recently stated by Dan Rather - who was, of course, forced out of his anchor job after angering the White House - television news has been "dumbed down and tarted up."
Only a CBS executive or leading Democrat could now believe that Rather was anything but a criminal who got caught in his own fraud. Fascinating though, that in a speech about the responsibilities of the media, that Mr. Gore never once saw fit to acknowledge the multiple attempts by a major television network to influence a federal election.
“And it really matters because the subjugation of news by entertainment seriously harms our democracy: it leads to dysfunctional journalism that fails to inform the people. And when the people are not informed, they cannot hold government accountable when it is incompetent, corrupt, or both.”
Does anyone else here find it a strange thing that Al Gore, who once used a Buddhist Temple to launder his campaign funds from offshore contributors when he was Vice-President, and who was in all likelihood well aware of the goings-on at the Rose Law Firm and the various “special” arrangements made for the Clinton’s real estate deals, has the temerity to bring up the spectre of corrupt government? Does anyone else here, aware that the Clinton-Gore Administration was responsible for preventing the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden in 1997, and for creating the wall of bureaucracy between the CIA and FBI that prevented cooperation which could have allowed the Able Danger information to prevent the 9/11 attacks, find Mr. Gore’s statement just a bit disingenuous?
“We must ensure by all means possible that this medium of democracy's future develops in the mold of the open and free marketplace of ideas that our Founders knew was essential to the health and survival of freedom.”
In the end, people must choose for themselves what information they desire, and by what means they wish to acquire it. Al Gore is as arrogant as he ever was, to presume that a handful of elites should decide what the public will be allowed to choose, or to pronounce actual participation by the public in news analysis as unhealthy, even as he attempts to paint Dan Rather and similar frauds as courageous defenders of the First Amendment. Blogs and Talk Radio and Cable Television were not imposed on anyone, but thrive because there is a market, a hunger, for them. People like being able to express their own opinions, they prefer being able to sort through the information and make their own decisions. And I am merely exercising my own First Amendment rights to clearly state that Al Gore is very wrong in his assertion that our democracy is “hollow”; on the contrary, our democracy is very sound and growing, and it is vain, hollow men like Al Gore who fear its strength and vitality. But as long as men like Gore can find a ready audience in the Old Media, and sponsors to support their destructive agenda in a campaign against the rights of ordinary people, we must make sure we know the ways and mind of our enemies, and for the good of the nation we must stand together in defense of our common rights, for our common hope.