Chapter 6: One last synopsis!


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?


  1. "But should future generations be told? Should they be told how we got here?"

    Apparently, no, they should not.

    For to do so means, to liberals, that you are worshiping Al Gore, saying that Al Gore can do no wrong, or some other sort of straw-man nonsense.

  2. Bob Somerby:

    The problem is that you run right smack into the narrative that partisan Democrats are desperate to keep whole.

    If you are correct, then another 2000 narrative is diminished: that a deep ideological split led to a defection of the movement liberal wing from the New Democrat-dominated apparatus, which then committed the unforgivable sin of voting 3rd party.

    Don't you see, Bob Somerby?

    If they can't tell the tale of how Nader voters destroyed the country, then how else to force movement liberals to vote for New Democrats who loathe us?

    The worst case scenario in the minds of partisan loyalists is not that a decadent, aristocratic press corps has subverted our great nation, the worst case would be a movement liberal bloc insufficiently terrorized into supporting Third Way centrists.

    Your "liberals" aren't. They're "the center-left coalition," and they represent the elite consensus between high establishment liberal society, Third Way think tanks/message shops and the deep-pocket New Democrat Coalition.

    Movement liberals, i.e. us who are neither rubes nor party machine, constitute a population of voters, readers and conversationalists with an ideology distinct from that consensus. We're not establishment liberals, we're not Third Way-ers, we're not partisan or campaign loyalists, and we're not careerists (well...we have jobs, just outside the Beltway).

    We're no more radical than any other political philosophy, we simply reject the idea that Third Way are "moderate," while we're "extreme." We're practical in our own way, and see the "pragmatic progressives" as purist in their dogma. Our side of the Democratic Party is perfectly capable of compromise with the other side, and getting things done. Just look at the bill co-sponsored by Alan Grayson and Ron Paul that gave us the audit of the Federal Reserve --bipartisanship that was bitterly opposed by a coalition of "moderates" and big government GOP.

    Make no mistake, we're not socialists or anarchists --we want free markets, but kept free by an adversarial state from what FDR called "the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering." We're pro-freedom, but we're not libertarian. We're not for big government, we're for a government big enough to take on big industry and finance. We're for the FDIC, not the NSA. We're individualists, but we know common cause when we see it. We're Americans, Bob Somerby, as American as apple pie and liberty. We love our nation, and we can see how badly the right and center have mucked things up in cahoots with powerful private interests. We're liberals...not establishment "liberals" like one finds in the pages of the New York Times, but movement liberals.

    But, since we're A) a chunk of the Democratic Party vote, and B) systematically deprived of power since the DLC seized control in the '90s, the "center-left coalition" goes out of its way to create and enforce narratives that keep us fearful, lest we someday recognize the repeal of Glass-Steagall again when we see it, and destroy the universe by voting 3rd party.

    And that's probably why you can't get the truth to be talked about, Bob Somerby. Until we break the myth that "the disaffected left" handed the country over to neo-conservative ruin in a fit of purist tantrum, you're stuck. We're stuck. America is stuck.

    So let's just get to work breaking that paralyzing myth, shall we, Bob Somerby, say, before the average price of US health care tops $12,000 per American per year?

    Thanks so much for reading and considering these ideas, your work is very much appreciated by the rest of us.

  3. Here's something for disaffected progressives to think about.
    It's entirely possible that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, and David Souter will retire in the next five years. Who will pick their replacements?
    Obama, Romney, or Gingrich?

    1. David Souter and John Paul Stevens have already retired, Obama picked their replacements.

  4. "Disaffected" movement liberals might want to relieve ourselves of partisan dogma for a few moments to consider that Bush v Gore was decided by the SCOTUS conservative majority twelve years ago.

    Maybe, in light of these hard, cold facts, it's time for us movement liberals rethink that old, tired "SCOTUS hanging in the balance" line that partisan Democrats love to trot out when they sense we might be insufficiently anxious enough to reliably vote Team D.