MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2012
Why didn’t anyone speak: Tomorrow, we start our third annual fund-raising drive! After thirteen years at our post!
Lucky duckies will get the chance to fund our incomparable companion site, How He Got There.
Should the story which is being explored at that site be told in full? We’ll beg, you can decide!
For today, let’s ask one last question about our newly-posted Chapter 6: What did no one speak? (To read Chapter 6, just click here.)
Quick review: On December 1, 1999, Candidate Gore was accidentally misquoted by Ceci Connolly and Katharine Seelye in the Washington Post and the New York Times. Making matters worse, their accidental joint error had accidentally produced a “perfect misquotation.” According to the two reporters, Gore had said the following words to a high school class about the effort which produced the Superfund program in the late 1970s:
“I was the one that started it all!”
As accidentally misreported, Gore's statement was wonderfully grandiose—and it was plainly inaccurate! This made it a perfect misquotation for those who hoped to revive a dying theme: AL GORE, LIAR.
Sadly, Candidate Gore hadn’t made the grandiose statement in question. On Hardball, a major cable show, videotape made this fact clear that first very first night. Plainly, Candidate Gore didn’t say, “I was the one that started it all,” the grandiose, ungrammatical statement the two reporters accidentally managed to stick in his mouth by mistake. But so what! Major journalists just kept repeating the accidental misquotation over the course of the next several months! And no one stood up to correct them!
A few early examples:
On December 4, 1999, William Kristol repeated the perfect misquotation on CNBC’s Russert program. Tim Russert and Mark Shields simply stared as he did.
On December 5, Kristol repeated the perfect misquotation on ABC’s This Week. Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and the two Georges just sat there and stared as he did. George Stephanopoulos said that Gore’s grandiose misstatement “again showed his Pinocchio problem.” Gore was a LIAR again!
On December 6, Brian Williams repeated the perfect misquotation on his hour-long nightly cable show. He was reading it from U.S. News, which had included the perfect misquotation in its new edition.
On December 7, the Washington Times apparently chose to start using the perfect misquotation. Up to that point, the paper had used accurate quotations in reporting this utterly pointless incident. But now, six days after the perfect misquotation was plainly corrected on cable TV, the paper’s editors switched from right to wrong, using the perfect misquotation in a punishing editorial which fretted about Gore’s mental state.
This went on for months. In the process, the GORE LIAR theme, hardened, then turned to stone. Question:
Why the heck did no one speak up as this press corps wilding continued? After the clowning performance by the Washington Times, we e-mailed Howard Kurtz ourselves! Howard Kurtz said and wrote nothing! Somehow, he just never heard!
Did no one see that this war of disinformation was being waged against Candidate Gore? Up in New Hampshire, the high school students to whom Gore had spoken were fighting to make the press tell the truth about what had occurred in their classroom. For their troubles, they were openly mocked in a December 14 report by the Associated Press. At that same AP, on December 1, a young reporter had tried to report the fact that Gore had been misquoted. Years later, she quoted her editor telling her this: The AP “isn’t in the business of correcting the Post and the Times.”
Her editor "still wanted an exaggeration story," she told a research team from the Kennedy School.
Why did no one speak in real time? Beyond that, why does no one discuss this amazing story even today?
We’re just asking—you can decide. We will recommend our Chapter 6, which we continue to rewrite in parts. Tomorrow, lucky duckies will get the chance to pay Chapter 7 forward, to fund this ongoing project.
Should future generations hear the truth about the way George Bush reached the White House? In the present day, people will never be told, of course—not by this press corps, not by this group of career “liberals.”
On that point we can all agree. But should future generations be told? Should they be told how we got here?