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October 05, 2005


Sorry, Brendan, I couldn't get past the description of Al Gore's speech you linked to at first. Al Gore making a "thoughtful" speech? You mean like he though about something other than how to promote himself politically? Don't make me laugh -

-oh wait, you already did!

(nicely written post, though, very thoughtful)

You DO realize that the 'digital brownshirts'
he is referring to, are the bloggers? More
specifically, the ones who torpedoed Dan Rather (CBS), and John (Chirstmas-in
Cambodia) Kerry? The 'vast right-wing

Al Gore did give a "thoughtful" speech.
Thoughtful for Al Gore, which proves what a goddammend schmuck he really is.

BTW did the press ever investigate Al Gore's Vietnam service they way the investigated Bush's National Guard service.
You know, the rumors that Al had two defacto body guards with him at all times, sheilded from combat, stayed there a short time because his father was a Senator?

When is GoreTV going to launch?

When that happens, we'll really have some fun.

A politician promoting himself politically? *Gasp*

Obviously the Administration is paying huge amounts of money to their evil cabal of digital brownshirts, aka the conservative blogosphere. After all, no one could possibly hold those beliefs on their own.

Now, if I can just get some of that money for myself...


You know, you actually give no sense of the speech at all. If you are going to label a speech "thoughtful" - and for my money, this speech is far beyond thoughtful - it's an amazing speech.

Out of a speech of 50 paragraphs, you pick two sentences, and simply take issue with two sentences, pieces of data. And even with these two pieces of data, the standards you hold are unrealistically high. "No evidence"? Remember, repeated instances of giving passes to an unqualified person (Gannon). Remember also, some evidence of Gannon being signed out far beyond the period of any press period...

Also, you are forgetting the LOCAL "fake news" set-reporter-pieces, that look like news, but were more infomercials shipped to tv stations.

"Digital brownshirts" - clearly a "term of art" - yes, an exaggeration, to make a point.

I would think "digital brownshirts" would apply to most political bloggers, on both sides....

At any rate - what about the CONTENT? You know, the other 99.9% of this speech that you deem "thoughtful?", while devoting your 99% of review to what wasn't "thoughtful"?

The analysis of TV as a one-way communication? Of the dominance of TV by large corporations? Of the mention of how, biologically, people respond to moving pictures? Of the historical tracing of TV, and the elimination of the equal time clause?


For what it's worth, this post of yours looks simply like a dismissal of a speech that, in analytic power and clarity, captures much of what is wrong with the media landscape, which, I'm sure, you care about a great deal.

What happened to the Al Gore from 2002?

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.

We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

Al Gore, Former Clinton Vice-President
Speech to San Francisco Commonwealth Club
September 23, 2002

The US truly dodged a bullet when Gore lost in 2000...

unleash squadrons of digital brownshirts

Could he mean bloggers ? I don't think so, bloggers wear pajamas not brownshirts.

So why are CBS and CNN still in business? We're not getting what we're paying for. That's the real scandal.

Who is Al Gore? The name is vaguely familiar.

Oh, and those video press releases were in use prior to the Bush administration--not that Gore knew what was going on in his day.

"digital brownshirts" sounds like new Dem code for bloggers with BS detectors who can identify a fake document when they see one. Bloggers who have decimated the MSM stranglehold on the news.

Al Gore . . . thoughtful? I don't think so.

Godwin's law has already knocked his relevance out. The fundamental democratic issue is that algore is wrong.

You tell 'em Al! Pointing out errors, omissions, and even forgeries is "harassing and hectoring". The people cannot be free unless the NY Times and CBS are free ... to do and say whatever they want regardless of the actual facts.

So it's true what CBS reported, there really was Microsoft Word in the early 1970's when those famous Tang memos were originally drafted?

Anyone who believes PBS, CBS, Newsweek or et al is somehow intimidated by the Executive Branch is really Stuck on Stupid. or, Stuck on Amy Goodman.

Has anyone taken to time to expose the rampant practice of Dowdism existing in our failing 'free' press. Or, is rewriting quotes to fit a specific agenda now a required practice in media?

Is denying certain aspects of recent history appropriate practice for news gatherers who have taken upon themselves to educate their unwashed useful idiot masses?So, according to the media reporters over the past five years, former Pres. Clinton NEVER signed his own Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 and the 2003 State of the Union address was really designed by Cheney's evil military-industrial Halliburton complex?

Is 'Fake but Accurate' the standard?

Is "Freaked Out Media Hysteria in Our Faces" the only way MSM can present news information anymore?

No wonder the profession of journalism is seen as worse than professional ambulence chasers.

No mysteries here. It's another expression of the basic process that lets the NYT say it must be "fair and balanced" because it "gets criticism from both sides".

In modern "liberal" (mostly Democratic Party) discourse, the word "Nazi" has no content other than "disagrees with Democrats". Therefore George Bush, George Will, Jeff Goldstein, and any number of people are necessarily "Nazis" because from time to time they conclude that some proposal or position of, e.g., Al Gore's is wrong or wrongheaded and say so.

And Al Gore has absolutely no concept of two people independently coming to a conclusion, especially one that disagrees with him. If Hinderaker or Captain Ed agree with George Bush, or defend him against some criticism, the only possible mechanism is that The Evil Rove has instructed them to do so -- because that's pretty much the way it works on Gore's side.

In precisely the same way, if George Bush walked on water and the NYT did not editorialize on how unlucky we are to have a President too stupid to learn to swim, left-liberals would attack "Pinch" for sycophancy, and the requirement for "fair and balanced" would be met.

It's not just predictable, it's gotten boring and a bit pitiable. Left-liberals know they can smell the stench of fascism somewhere. It's just that they haven't gotten around to sniffing their own armpits yet, so it's a mystery.


Congratulations, Brendan. Several of these comments suggest you're now a popular right-wing blogger. Not surprising, I suppose, for someone who suggests that the White House was under the impression that Jeff Gannon was a real journalist. And a nice way to make people forget your previous post, picking on a has-been.

BTW did the press ever investigate Al Gore's Vietnam service they way the investigated Bush's National Guard service.

Al Gore volunteered for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He didn't have Daddy get him a cushy spot in the Champagne Brigade of the National Guard, which he easily could have done since his father was a Senator.

Whack-job Bushbot Sean Hannity talked about the "body guards" allegation every night. Maybe Fox News should have investigated it, but all they know how to do is repeat RNC talking points.

Al Gore was always a crank and a demagogue. After all, have you actually read "Earth in the Balance"? After that mess of garbage it's no surprise to see him demonize his political opponents and then call anyone who dares to criticize him a "brownshirt".

I think "brownshirts" is a compliment to their choice of earth tones. For the price of that advice I think Gore wants to get his money's worth.

Gore is the Democrat gift that just keeps giving. He's motivated more Republicans to vote than any other former VP in history.

You made one error of fact:

Maggie Gallagher was NOT paid by the Bush administration for positive coverage as Armstrong Williams was. Gallagher had been paid at a previous time for consulting work she did on marriage issues, just as thousands of other subject area "experts" -- liberal and conservative -- are paid by government agencies for the same sort of services all the time. Later, Gallagher came out in favor of some Administration marriage proposals, but didn't think to reveal that she had previously been a paid consultant on such issues. After the Williams flap, the media portrayed Gallagher's actions as Act II, but it's a bogus rap.

Geez, you really need to get some better commenters.

I have to agree with another poster here in that taking issue with two sentences from an otherwise outstanding speech does nothing more than completely obscure the impact and relevance of Gore's argument.

Secondly, a number of posters here seem to have an issue with Al Gore as a person. Fine. You don't have to like his politics or his personality, but to dismiss him as an opportunist or a political hack is pure nonsense.

I'd like to ask how many people have actually read any of Gore's books, such as 'Earth in Balance', his 1992 treatise on the environment? While the tone of the book can be a little overblown at times, his arguments from a decade ago are now more salient than ever. He was also one of the people who recognized the potential of the ARPANET and signed into law a bill that helped create the internet as we know it today. Argue about his "I created the internet" comment all you want, like it or not, he helped create it. He has proven time and again to be forward thinking.

Lastly, a number of people have stated that Al Gore is simply promoting his political career with this speech... without seeming to have read the speech. Is Al Gore running for office again? Seems to me he is in the private sector now. Other than a plug for his new tv network, I found nothing in this speech that sounded like an overt political self-promotion.

Seriously folks, you don't have to like the man, but to dismiss his intellectual rigor because he is liberal and not the beer- drinking-buddy-type is simply dumb. We desperately need a resurgence of intellect in our society and especially in our government. To dismiss Al Gore as an intellectual lightweight is as absurd as Harriet Miers stating, "George W. Bush is the most brilliant man I have ever met".

"Digital brownshirts" as a "term of art", JC? More like a term of artlessness. No more a term of art than the so-called N-word once was. "N-word" however does qualify.

This is not the first time he has used the "digital brownshirts" comment. And lest anyone forget just what he's referring to, the SA, or Sturmarbteilung (strom troopers). Their mission: assault and intimidate anyone who disapproved of the NASDAP. And there's also another important note: in 1934, Hitler had the entire leadership killed (night of the long knives) and the entire SA disbanded at the behest of the army and SS leadership (Himmler).

So Gore is moronic on two counts: one, the blogosphere increases dialogue, and nobody on either the right or left prohibits free speech. In fact, the presence of such discorcant and strident opposition only serves to show Gore a fool. Two, has Bush moved ever to stifle his oposition. Sure he signed, McCain-Feingold, but that's bipartisan.

His comments show his stupidity and ignorance, not to mention his lack of sanity. What a lovely combination!!

The whole speech was idiotic. There wasn't a paragraph that wasn't foolish and/or idiotic. There's not time for a full takedown, but here are a few highlights:

Gore complains about how Dan Rather was taken down by the blogs, as if it's the blogs faults he decided to attack Bush with forged documents (which he still won't admit are fake).

Gore complains we watch too much TV, but it introducing a new channel--he wants "the people" to finally have a voice, not recognzing they finally do, and it's called the internet. (You think he'd know that.)

Gore still dines out on the misinterpreted three-year old poll on mistaken beliefs that war supporters have, when it would be just as easy to take a poll of anti-war people and show up their false beliefs.

Gore actually fears for our democracy. He has nostalgia for the days when the networks told you what to believe and there weren't any nasty voices out there to tell you otherwise. He actually wants to bring back the "fairness" doctrine which was used, quite successfully, but government to prevent anyone from talking about politics on TV or radio.

Let's all get down on our knees and thank whatever deity we believe in we were spared this man.


Just to clarify, Gore's daddy was a sitting U.S. Senator at the time Al enlisted, and Al has admitted that he only enlisted to help his father's image during a tough re-election campaign. Young Albert was given cushy duty as a military journalist, and his C.O. has stated that he was under strict orders to keep Gore out of harm's way.

In truth, Bush risked his life far more learning to fly jets than Gore ever did playing reporter over in 'Nam. Not that I'm slamming Gore for that -- I'm just telling it like it is.

As long as leading Democrats continue to smear anyone who diagrees with them as brownshirts of any stripe, I see no reason to accommodate their views or their candidacies. Keep talking, Al.

I'd like to ask how many people have actually read any of Gore's books, such as 'Earth in Balance', his 1992 treatise on the environment?

I tried. 'Twas the literary equivalent of Ambien. A few pages and I was out like a light. Mr. Gore shows the typical liberal opinion that their policies apply to others, not them. How can a true environmentalist justify globe trotting in a private jet- a massive waste of fuel and emissions. This is not unlike Kerry's criticising America's love of big cars while he owned a fleet of SUVs (oops, his WIFE's fleet of SUVs, wink, wink). Or Kerry's dedication to the poor while, up until the verge of his presidential campaign, he personally gave virtually nothing to charity.

Gore's playing loose with the facts fits in with his customary vitriol that whatever Bush says or does is wrong. Telling lies is justified because the left has a "higher calling" and they don't want a few truths to get in their way.

Getting back to Gore's actual speech;

I thouth it was interesting that he throws out the "digital brownshirts" line, but closes his speech by calling for an expansion of high spped internet connections so everyone can practice citizen journalism with TV quality video feeds.

So, what does want he want here? Surely he doesn't mean to exclude only the bloggers he dislikes, the "digital brownshirts", the "hateful Rush Limbaugh" just because he disagrees with their message?

"Seriously folks, you don't have to like the man, but to dismiss his intellectual rigor because he is liberal and not the beer- drinking-buddy-type is simply dumb."

After all that would be stereotyping wouldn't it?

re: Paul, and others:
I'm not so sure that the rest of the sermon deserves to be called "thoughtful" either. It's not like Brendan just pulled the ONLY TWO sentences that were NOT thoughtful.

Here's another example: "... the imposition by management of entertainment values on the journalism profession has resulted in scandals, fabricated sources, ... 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.'"

Dan Rather was NOT forced out because he "angered the White House," (which is clearly what Gore is implying), he was forced out because he was in the business of "fabrication" AND he got caught doing it. But Gore has a clearly revisionist view of the events.

Gore does a nice job of retelling the history of media - hardly thoughtful since I can gather that information off of the internet that Al Gore made - but once he reaches modern times he devolves into a partisan polemic. Without really thinking at all.

As someone with a blog that is often critical of Al Gore and people like him (Haight Speech), I am amused by the suggestion that President Bush somehow "unleashed" me on his administration's critics.

I have been critical of Bush, as well, make no mistake. There are things he has done and failed to do that I am very angry about. But the fact that I am conservative (or at least labeled such in the current political climate; what I am used to be called "liberal"), is not something of Bush's making, nor do I get paid for it (I wish).

And actually, now that I think about it, I'm offended by Gore's accusation that I am somehow on the White House payroll, or that I obey their orders (haven't received any lately -- maybe my spam filter caught it). I do no man's bidding blindly. Any loyalty I express is entirely at my own discretion, and will be done only as long as that person's beliefs are in harmony with my own.

I speak for myself. I am an individual, intelligent, willful human being who needs no authority to guide my actions other than my own mind and conscience.

Regarding Maggie Gallagher, start here. The NYT has already issued a correction, and perhaps you should too.

-- nofollow breaks blogs

> Al Gore gave a thoughtful speech on the media

So, what is a "thoughtful" speech? Gore's speech was not clear. Its premises did not stand up to scrutiny. Its conclusions did not logically follow. Its interpretation did not lead us to better understand what we should do or why.

While your comment on Gore's quoted paragraph is worth reading, readers need not bother to follow your link to the source except to verify you have not pulled the quote from thin air. After three attempts to cut through to the substance, I gave up, overcome by its noise. Your title is apt: "What is Al Gore talking about?"

It may have been "thoughtful" insofar as Mr. Gore had to exert substantial effort to create it, but I suggest you henceforth use the word "thoughtful" to apply to those pieces worthy of our attention and thought.

Does it really matter if Bush personally dispatches the brown shirts, or they are dispatched and coordinated by a message machine with which his policies are coordinated?

The obvious point here is that there exists rampant and collective coordination wihtin and external to the mass media to get administration approved messages across to the public and to deny the transmission of other ideas. That this coordination has been republican driven in nature and tied closely to Team Bush's White House until the end of august of this year is beyond question.

Gore's attack does nothing but clarify the existing situation. Your objections are not valid and your "caution" is unwarranted.

There's this wonderfully drawn graph in Earth in the Balance.

Unfortunately, it indicates that all life on Earth would be extinguished by the year 2000.

Intellectual rigor, intellectual rigor mortis, tough to tell'em apart...

It gives the appearance of being a "thoughtful" speech - because it's cribbed from genuinely thoughtful books.

"The analysis of TV as a one-way communication? Of the dominance of TV by large corporations? Of the mention of how, biologically, people respond to moving pictures?"

Great, Gore has read "The Media Monopoly," "Amusing Ourselves to Death," and "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television."

What an intellectual. Yea, verily, Adlai Stevenson brought back to life. Calooh, callay.

But he was once a massive pothead, so he can't be all bad.

I found it quite interesting that of the 39 comments to date, 8 were personal attacks on Al Gore. 5 Attacked the Gore speech with red herring arguments. 5 Attacked the Gore speech with strawman arguments. 4 did not address the issue at hand except with derogatory wit. Only 6 made a comment that actually addresses the content of the Gore speech. No one addressed the subject of the speech: a grave danger to American democracy.

Are the brownshirts winning?

"Are the brownshirts winning?"

I don't know. Is there broken glass in the streets? Are citizens being rounded up and carted off to concentration camps? Is there racist propaganda everywhere?

Dude, getting praised by Michael Barone is nothing to be proud of. Certainly, though, he's someone who knows how to put partisan point-scoring ahead of intellectual integrity!

"There's no evidence that the White House "placed" Jeff Gannon/Guckert in the White House press pool - they merely approved his credential."

But there was absolutely no reason to approve Gannon/Guckert's credentials. In fact, he was denied a Congressional press pass that same year because he couldn't show that he wrote for a valid news organization.

Talon News was owned by GOPUSA. It had no subscribers, and consisted entirely of GOP and White House press releases. It was not a news organization, but rather a Republican p.r. machine.

And one more thing: if approving a press credential isn't "placing" someone in the W.H. press pool, then what exactly would be????

I'd like to further the "of the 39 comments to date" post. Why is it that people are so excited to attack small bits of the essay or attack Gore with hatred and contempt? It's an essay pointing out some problems that come with the large shifts in how people communicate. Why not address that idea and run with it? These posts are great for showing some of those very problems. People aren't sure what are facts, what hyperbole, what errors and what lies. Was Bush in more danger flying jets in the US than Gore was while serving in Viet Nam? Is debating that (I think silly) question worth doing when we could be talking about how to solve the problems Gore points out? For example, how could such a high percentage believe that Hussein directly participated in 9/11? This shows that we have a problem with communicating facts, a problem that contributed to votes that have led to the death of 1800+ US soldiers so far. Whether or not the war was a good idea, can't we agree that it's terrible to have so much of our population so badly misled about what's going on? If we agree on that, then why not be talking about how to fix that problem? For a start, my dream is that somehow American's will start demanding accountability from those who boldly state things that are incorrect, from Paul Krugman to most of Fox News. I did my part: I cancelled TimesSelect and said my reason for doing so was Paul Krugman's failure to properly correct his assertion that it was shown that Gore would have won a recount of Florida. And I'm a lefty. We have to vote with our eyeballs and our money to support accurate sources of information. Don't you think?

"I don't know. Is there broken glass in the streets? Are citizens being rounded up and carted off to concentration camps? Is there racist propaganda everywhere?"

1) I'm a cyclist, and yes, there most definitely is.
2) Gee - just the Muslim ones.
3) Has there ever not been, in this country? Seriously?

Patience wrote: "Does it really matter if Bush personally dispatches the brown shirts, or they are dispatched and coordinated by a message machine with which his policies are coordinated?"

So, are we getting our orders via phone, fax or those Rovian mind-control rays? /sarcasm

This gets to the heart of what's wrong with the left: A refusal to believe that people can honestly disagree with the left, but instead must be motivated by evil intentions and directed by a mysterious conspiracy.


BTW, I was going to write "what's wrong *today* with the left" but remembered how in the 60's and 70's the left indulged as a matter of course in adhominem attacks, demonization, harassment, and so on. Today's derangement is nothing new. I wish it were far less common, and I don't know how the Democratic Party is going to fix itself.

When I first read Gore's speech, I found the idea that our democracy is in trouble to be absolutely laughable. And then I read the comments of people praising it. If our democracy depends upon people understanding basic reasoning, having the slightest grasp of history, or being able to detect demagoguery... well, then.. yes, our democracy is in danger. From the likes of Gore and his fans. Frankly, if you're at all impressed by Gore's speech I would suggest that you need to give up TV and open a few books yourself.

Do you really believe that the generation of the founding fathers was the most literate in human history? Please, take a look at the literacy rates from back then.

The marketplace of ideas has never been as open in any time in history as it is now. The idea that any period in this country's history (or any time in history) was somehow more fertile for the expression, dissemination, and debate of ideas is just plain nuts. In fact, very few people had access to anything more than a pencil and paper until rather recently. Few had access to printing presses or distribution networks.

If you're reading this now, please keep in mind that I'm typing these words from the Third World. In Al Gore's good old days, would someone as physically seperated from America's major media centers had the chance to be heard on any level?

Gore notes that newspapers are “hemoragghing readers” but this in no way indicates that these people aren't reading. Each day, I browse the contents of about 20 newspapers, none of which I subscribe to. This would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Our parents usually had a choice of one or two newspapers to choose from.

Reading books is in decline? Oh, boy. I'd better sell my Amazon stock. In fact, books are being unpublished at an unprecedented rate, the relative cost of publishing a book has never been lower, and it's never been easier to make your intended readers aware of your book. And in general, books today feature consistently better writing and are more technical and feature more references than any books published in history. If you doubt this I would suggest that you've not looked very closely at historical examples of magazines, novels, and newspapers. Indeed, you may be thinking only of the celebrated classics and assuming that they were indicative of what many people were reading.

I could go on. Just about every paragraph in Gore's speech is filled with profound historical inaccuracies or just plain silliness.

Kobe asked:

“Why is it that people are so excited to attack small bits of [Gore's] essay. . ?”

Because democracy would be in peril if we didn't question things. And that includes questioning the premises of people like Gore.

“how could such a high percentage believe that Hussein directly participated in 9/11?”

Probably because such a high percentage do not believe that. I've seen no polling data by any credible source that supports that position. I'd suspect it's an urban legend.

Kobe continues:

“For a start, my dream is that somehow American's will start demanding accountability from those who boldly state things that are incorrect...”

How about Al Gore? Kobe stared the post seeking to completely dismiss Gore's very obvious factual errors and then wonders how the American public can be so factually mis-informed and then demands accountability for those who state factual errors. Weird.

My take on Al Gore's speech is this: he's got a new TV channel and he needs to get people excited about it. He needs a base of supporters, both advertisers and a core of viewers. Many people on the left and in democrat circles need a tremendous amount of re-assurance and validation that they are “thinking people,” all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Many of these people for some reason have a compelling personal need to view George Bush as a complete idiot. But how can such a complete idiot defeat such stellar minds as Gore and Kerry and the thoughtful people who supported them? It seems clear that such thoughtful people are somehow unwilling to entertain the idea that they are not thoughtful and Gore and Kerry are not stellar minds. The problem must be found outside of themselves.

In this sense, what Gore's done with this speech IS rather clever: he's provided a complete, self-reinforcing mythology to explain to his supporters why they are losing in such a way that provokes absolutely no reflection on their role in their own defeat. It's TV and big money and grossly ill-informed Americans who are to blame. All wrapped up in a pseudo-intellectual presentation with lots of falsehoods dressed up as historical references. But if we support Gore's new TV channel and sit around and watch it, things will get better.

Fortunately for Gore, most of his supporters are 1) sufficiently ignornant of history, and 2) sufficiently needing a source of blame outside of themselves, that this kind of presentation will work. Unfortunately, there is the internet providing average citizens with the ability to question and debate things.

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