Thursday, October 06, 2005

Al Gore on TV, War, and Social Apathy

The man should have been President.

At the "We Media" conference yesterday in New York, Al Gore warned America that its democracy is in "grave danger" due to the distorting effects of mass media, particularly television, a medium that "completely dominates the flow of information in modern America."

How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?

I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack.

Sounding as though he ought to have a blog called IN THE DARK, the Vice President questions the increasing detachment of American citizens to the world around them:
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? If the gap between rich and poor is widening steadily and economic stress is mounting for low-income families, why do we seem increasingly apathetic and lethargic in our role as citizens?

The Vice President has a great deal of enthusiadm for the promise of the internet (as do I), and believes we must work to keep it free of corporate control:

We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Worldwide Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it because some of the same forces of corporate consolidation and control that have distorted the television marketplace have an interest in controlling the Internet marketplace as well. Far too much is at stake to ever allow that to happen.

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.

Yes, I'll say it:

GORE IN 2008!!!


GreenSmile said...

Gore, sure. Kerry even. Anybody that will toss Bushes cronies out on their asses. [or in jail as the case may warrant]

I miss Bill Clinton too...gawd gimme anybody with a brain!

There's a lot of talk about objectivity
in news coverage but like I commented on Majikthise, people are just hearing what they want to hear, as if knowing what was really happening didn't matter. How can we blame the press for people not listening? Too many news sources? Each person having to be his own editor? I dunno.

LindiBee said...

You've hit upon something that troubles me too- has anybody heard some of the speeches of Al Gore in the last 3 years- this man is a statesman writ large! He gave one of the most intelligent, thoughtful speeches during the build-up for war (Oct 2002) that was given anywhere, calling for caution, letting the UN inspectors finish their work, making sure that "we had our posse together before attacking an enemy"..... then a few weeks later Dick Gephardt drafted a deal giving Bush war power! My suspicion has always been that Gephardt didn't want to be upstaged by Gore or lose an edge in the 2004 Presidential primaries to him, so Gephardt made a deal behind everyone's back and rallied the other Dems behind him- the weasel!
Al Gore has given some of the wisest political speeches of our time, yet the MSM has totally ignored and marginalized him, instead hanging their microphones around those perceived "centers of power" even if they were shamelessly lying or breathtakingly stupid. I believe that some of Gore's addresses are still online at

jeff said...

Well, we can give Gore lots of credit for intelligence and speaking his mind now--but I'm still angry at him for not displaying more intelligence and for not speaking his mind more when he was (first?) running for president.

Dr. Fallon said...


Did Gore really fail to "speak his mind," or did a culture saturated with the "logic" (as it were) of television focus almost exclusively not on what Gore spoke about, or the evidence behind his ideas, but on his "rigidity," his stilted presentation, his appearance of impatient superiority versus Bush (remember all the attention given to Gore's ~~sighs~~ during the debate)?

You are free to think about Gore any way you choose; as for me, I reserve my anger for people who are actively working against the best interests of the American people and American democracy--Bush and his administration.

jeff said...

Well, it seems to me that it's not an either/or proposition as to whether 'the media' failed Gore verses Gore failed to speak his mind decisively enough. Clearly the media didn't give Gore a fair shake. But I distinctly remember Gore's few speeches directly after the election, and how his entire manner was different--there was (now) a man that more people would have voted for, if he had just spoken his mind more when there was something to win. I think he chickened out (as did Kerry) and held back.

As far as reserving anger for only the Bush Jr clan: they definitely deserve the greatest brunt of all of our anger, but that doesn't mean that I, at least, don't reserve some anger and frustration for the people who could have stopped him from gaining power in the first place, if they had only spoken up for all of us more.

Dr. Fallon said...

Well, I agree with you Jeff, to a point. If you'll allow me to say so, I think that the thing you are most angry about, WE (the people) are responsible for.

Campaigns are (first of all) impossible without enormous amounts of cash, because they are impossible without television. Campaigns are media events, stage managed by media "experts," not all of whom are of equal caliber. Television is not an easy medium to "look presidential" on (in?), and there is a certain amount of randomness, serendipity, just-plain-stupid luck involved sometimes.

The point is, presidential campaigns are what they are today because WE (the people) have allowed them to become so. WE are the ones who listen to BS about "looking presidential" and believe it. We are the ones who look at a person like George W. Bush, decide "he LOOKS like a nice man" and then go and vote for him.

Did Gore hold back? Sure. Was he asked to hold back by his handlers? Probably. Were they afraid he'd come off sounding too "Wonkish?" Yeah. In McLuhan's terms, was there a danger he'd "come off" too "hot" for the cool medium of television? Was goofy, fuzzy-math, poorly-defined, "likable" George W. the "cool" candidate in 2000? I'm not sure, but I know a lot more people who say they have a reason that they DIDN'T vote for Gore in 2000, who say they have a reason they DID vote for Bush.

Find some forgiveness for Gore. Let's draft him in 2008.

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