Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Touchy Liberals

Liberal bloggers have been extraordinarily touchy recently. Even for a conspiracy-minded crowd, they are seeing more than their usual number and they are attacking unusual sources.

The current issue of Wired magazine has Al Gore on the cover along with a story on his political rebirth. The story mentions, tongue-in-cheek, that Gore sort-of invented the Internet. Eric Boehlert unloaded on Wired, stating that Wired owes Gore an apology and implying that they caused Gore to lose the election.

The facts of the matter are that, in 1999, Gore said "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." By that point, Gore was already getting a reputation for twisting the truth. He told about growing up plowing fields behind a mule when he actually grew up in DC. His mule-plowing was limited to Summer visits to an uncle's farm. He said that his family stopped growing tobacco because of his sister's death from cancer but failed to mention that years passed in between the two. He talked about his experience in Viet Nam and distributed a photograph taken there where he was holding a rifle. In fact, he was assigned to be a reporter covering experiences behind the lines. He even claimed that the book and movie "Love Story" was based on his and his wife's life together. In fact, only the male lead's background was based on Gore's (rich and born to politics). When he said that he "created the Internet", he meant that, he co-sponsored legislation for the government to purchase the computers used for the original DNS (name-lookup). It is quite a stretch to go from there to creating the Internet and this comment was quickly picked up on. It was Dick Armey who changed it from "creating the Internet" to "inventing the Internet". This fit so well with the pattern of exaggeration that Gore had already established that the "invented" version was the one everyone remembered. Gore has only himself to blame for his reputation as a serial exaggerator.

Wired's response is here.
[...]whether or not you're a Gore sympathizer, it's hard to take seriously the claim that Wired News swung the 2000 election. Eric Boehlert's observations are not new. The truth about Gore's Internet claim came to light during the campaign itself, including on this website, as Gore's defenders dug into the story and pointed back to his original statement. Writer Declan McCullagh's interpretation was just that -- interpretation and opinion. That it took on a life of its own says as much about the effectiveness of the Gore campaign as it does about Wired News at that time.

The other perceived conspiracy is the coverage of the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. All of the coverage centered on Bush poking fun of himself. That is how this event is always covered. The President does something funny and, because it is the President, it makes the news.

Others see it as a conspiracy. They feel that Stephen Colbert:
Stephen Colbert delivered a biting rebuke of George W. Bush and the lily-livered press corps. He did it to Bush's face, unflinching and unbowed by the audience's muted, humorless response.

Three points here - first, a basic-cable talk show host making jokes about the President at that event is not news. Colbert may have coined the word of 2005 (truthiness) but he is not the President. Colbert would have to have mooned the President in order for it to be news. Second, I watched Colbert's bit. It was a comedy bit, not a Cindy Sheehan, in-your-face moment. Third, not everyone agrees that it was even funny.

The idea of a liberal media swings both ways. Conservatives don't expect much of the media since they are probably liberals anyway. Liberals do expect positive coverage when a story is not written the way that they want, they start accusing the press of "shielding Bush from negative publicity".

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