During the 2000 campaign, New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye promoted the image of Al Gore as a liar and exaggerator -- and she did so by making up things that he never said, then explaining that they weren't true.
This morning, Seeyle posted a preview of tonight's VP debate on the Times blog The Caucus. In it, she outlined what she'll be "watching for," both generally and for each candidate. Given her previous obsession with falsehoods and exaggerations, and given Sarah Palin's well-documented penchant for both, you might assume Seeyle would mention the danger for Palin in saying something that isn't true, or in exaggerating her record.
Wrong. Seeyle didn't devote so much as a single word to the possibility that Palin might say something incorrect or unduly self-aggrandizing. Apparently, that isn't as important to Seelye as the crucial question of whether Biden will "help Ms. Palin with her chair."
It's amazing how so many pundits who spent the entire 2000 mocking Al Gore, telling us how phony and abnormal and boring he was, and how authentic George W. Bush was, now try to rewrite history and pretend that they saw right through W. eight years ago. Add Maureen Dowd to the list of fictional I-told-you-so's.
In her Sunday column, Down writes:
The really scary part of the Palin interview was how much she seemed like W. in 2000, and not just the way she pronounced nu-cue-lar. She had the same flimsy but tenacious adeptness at saying nothing, the same generalities and platitudes, the same restrained resentment at being pressed to be specific, as though specific is the province of silly eggheads, not people who clear brush at the ranch or shoot moose on the tundra.
Palin's a lightweight just like W. in 2000, Dowd warns us. It would have been nice if Dowd had, y'know, actually warned us about that eight years ago instead of obsessing over Gore's trumped up faults.
On his Milwaukee radio talk show, Mark Belling referred to schoolteachers who talk to their students about global warming as "idiot union teacher[s]," "liberal unionized hack[s]," "greedy, overpaid unionized schoolteacher[s]," and "fruitcake[s]."
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity criticized the purchase of credits to offset one's "carbon footprint," asserting, "Those offsets -- that is the biggest hoax in the world. ... You know what it's like? You go cheat on your wife, and then say, 'Honey, but don't worry. I bought an offset.' Good luck." Hannity has yet to address the pledge by News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch "to be carbon neutral, across all our businesses" -- which includes Fox News -- "by 2010."
On Special Report, citing purported findings by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Brit Hume claimed that Al Gore's "energy use has surged more than 10 percent" since environmentally friendly renovations were completed on his home. Hume offered no response from Gore. Responding to the charge, a Gore spokeswoman stated that "[w]hen [the Gores] do use power, it's green power." According to the Tennessee Valley Authority, green power "create[s] less waste and pollution" than standard electricity.
In a Washington Times column, Wesley Pruden falsely claimed that "the earth has been measurably cooling for the last decade, despite everything [former Vice President] Al [Gore] and his followers have done about it." In fact, the United Kingdom's Met (Meteorological) Office lists as a "fact" that "[t]emperatures are continuing to rise" and states that "temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1° C per decade."
On his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck falsely claimed that former President Bill Clinton said, "We've got to slow down our economy" in order to combat global warming, and aired a portion of a speech Clinton made in January. However, as Clinton's full remarks make clear, he did not suggest "slow[ing] down our economy" to fight global warming.
In his Los Angeles Times column, Jonah Goldberg asserted that in an NPR interview, Al Gore "chuckled" at the idea that Hurricane Katrina "was God's wrath for New Orleans' sexual depravity," then "went on to blame Katrina on man's energy sinfulness." In fact, Gore stated during the interview that "any individual storm can't be linked singularly to global warming." Goldberg also claimed that the numbers of polar bears "have quadrupled in the last 50 years"; in fact, data to support estimates of the polar bear population 50 years ago are reportedly nonexistent, recent growth in the polar bear population is believed to be linked to hunting bans, and the Department of Interior found that "the polar bear is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future."
Reuters reported that Sen. John McCain would pledge "to take the lead in combating global climate change if elected president in a speech that set him apart from the policies of U.S. President George W. Bush." However, in reporting on McCain's environmental positions that his campaign believes will "win support from independents and centrist Democrats," Reuters did not mention his voting record and did not include any criticism of McCain's positions. By contrast, The Washington Post noted that "McCain's lifetime League of Conservation Voters score is 24 percent, compared with 86 for Obama and 86 for Clinton."
Fox News' Bret Baier claimed that in an interview on NPR, "Former Vice President Al Gore says global warming is to blame for the cyclone in Myanmar." In fact, while Gore did discuss the cyclone in the context of global warming, he also stated -- just moments earlier -- that "any individual storm can't be linked singularly to global warming."
On America's Pulse, host E.D. Hill falsely claimed, in a teaser for an upcoming segment, that "the U.N. says the planet may actually cool off for the 10th year in a row." Hill later asserted: "U.N. meteorologists now saying that we could have, for the 10th year in a row, a colder year, temperatures ... decreasing, not warming, getting colder." In fact, global mean temperatures, as measured in two widely used data sets, have not decreased in each of the past 10 years; further, according to those data sets' producers, the data continue to show a long-term warming trend.
In an article discussing potentially competitive 2008 Senate elections, The New York Times understated Sen. James Infohe's views on global warming, reporting that Inhofe "has said that its effects are exaggerated." In fact, Inhofe has repeatedly referred to global warming as the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and reportedly compared Al Gore's global warming documentary to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Keith Olbermann awarded the runner-up and "bronze" honors in his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment to Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, respectively -- to O'Reilly, for asserting that the question of whether global warming is natural or man-made is "all guesswork," and to Beck, for asking, "Odds that [Sen.] Barack Obama is the Antichrist?"
Responding to a viewer's email about whether the current global warming "scare" is "natural" or "man-made," Fox News' Bill O'Reilly asserted: "It's all guesswork." Contrary to O'Reilly's assertion, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the Earth is warming and human activity is very likely responsible for most of that warming.
On CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Republican strategist Mary Matalin's assertion that global warming is "a largely unscientific hoax. And it's a political concoction." As Media Matters for America has documented, numerous scientific organizations share the consensus view that the Earth is warming.