Chapter 6: The background to the story!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2012

This episode did change the world: As we noted yesterday, we have posted Chapter 6 at our companion site, How He Got There.

Today, we’ll outline the basic background to the events we describe. To read Chapter 6, just click here.

Chapter 6 describes an episode from December 1999, which may have been the pivotal month in Campaign 2000, a White House campaign which changed the world’s history. In that month, the press corps nailed down a deeply punishing, much-beloved theme:

Candidate Gore is a liar, just like President Clinton!

From this point forward, this punishing narrative drove the coverage of Campaign 2000. Here’s the basic background:

The press corps’ coverage of Candidate Gore began in March 1999, one month after President Clinton's impeachment trial. At that point, the press corps assembled its GORE LIAR theme, using three ridiculous “lies” as building-blocks of this narrative.

By November 1999, the theme was dying on the vine, starved for a lack of examples. Maddeningly, Candidate Gore had issued no new LIES. And one of the original “lies” was so transparently absurd that even the press corps had been forced to abandon it.

By the rule of three, the press corps needed one more LIE to maintain this punishing narrative. And sure enough! Through the magic of misquotation, a perfect third LIE was accidentally concocted on December 1, 1999.

Al Gore said he discovered Love Canal! The cry rang all through the land!

With apologies, Chapter 6 is quite long. But then, the “errors” were many. Many people have heard that Gore was misquoted by Ceci Connolly and Katharine Seelye in their December 1 news reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times. But that was just the first misquotation in this long, sordid episode. That same day, the AP chipped in with a new and different misquotation of Gore's fleeting remarks on this subject. Soon after that, there was a third misquotation, and perhaps a fourth, depending on how you were scoring. (Does out-of-context count?)

The press corps also adopted that mocking group paraphrase: Al Gore said he discovered Love Canal! This paraphrase came from the RNC. It jumped from RNC press releases over to Hardball on December 1, Day One. From there, it moved all through the land.

All these misquotations of Gore were quite widely repeated. The initial misquotation was plainly corrected, right there on Hardball, on the very first night. But so what! Major journalists just kept repeating the misquotation as their colleagues looked silently on. (This continued for months.) Example: On December 5, Bill Kristol repeated the misquotation on This Week—and George, Sam, Cokie and George all looked on. The press corps’ misconduct was simply astounding—and it went on and on.

Paul Krugman still won’t tell you these things. It might make the deeply radicalized professor seem too shrill. We’ll offer more background in coming days—but make no mistake. This is how we got to Iraq. This is how George Bush reached the White House.

You aren’t supposed to know these things. But go ahead—read the chapter, which we’re still refining.

The information is all right there. Your leaders know they mustn’t tell. But then, most of them were directly involved. The mainstream press corps had basically lost its mind by the start of Campaign 2000.

What lay behind this disgraceful group breakdown? We would suggest two likely answers: Oral sex—and emerging conservative power. Today, your leaders know they must forget.

But go ahead—read Chapter 6. This is what really occurred.

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