GOP strategist Holt, Politico's Vogel revive false assertion about Gore and Internet
On Fox News' America's Election HQ, GOP strategist Terry Holt said that Al Gore "claimed to have invented the Internet," and on Fox News' On the Record, Politico reporter Ken Vogel stated: "And they're going to try to show him [Sen. Barack Obama] as a chronicle -- a chronic exaggerator, like they did with Al Gore in 2000, when they seized on his every claim, starting memorably with his claim that he invented the Internet, as some say that he said." In fact, Gore did not claim that he "invented the Internet." Rather, he said: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
On the May 27 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, while discussing Sen. Barack Obama's May 26 speech in which he referred to a relative's World War II service, GOP strategist Terry Holt stated, "But, you know, Al Gore -- I could -- think I could make an argument that Al Gore lost the election in 2000 because he had a chronic problem with exaggeration. He claimed to have invented the Internet, and we really got him with that one." Co-host Bill Hemmer did not challenge Holt's false assertion. Also, on that day's edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Politico reporter Ken Vogel stated: "And they're going to try to show him [Obama] as a chronicle -- a chronic exaggerator, like they did with Al Gore in 2000, when they seized on his every claim, starting memorably with his claim that he invented the Internet, as some say that he said, to sort of question him at every step." In fact, as Media Matters has repeatedly documented, Gore did not claim that he "invented the Internet." During the March 9, 1999, interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer that gave rise to the myth, Gore said: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
From the May 27 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
HEMMER: All right, Megyn Kelly [co-host]. Inside the "Strategy Room" tonight: Barack Obama citing family history, but is that history true? He claims his uncle helped liberate the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland at the end of World War II. The problem was, it happened in January of 1945, the war wasn't over just yet, and that's just, well, where it begins. Listen here from New Mexico yesterday.
OBAMA [video clip]: I had a uncle who was one of the -- who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. And the story in our family was is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn't leave the house for six months.
HEMMER: Well, the point he was trying to make in all that was how our veterans need better care when they come home from war. But now, the RNC is challenging the claim, and for good reason. And the Obama campaign issuing a clarification late tonight. Regina Calcaterra on the left there, Terry Holt on the right. Good evening to both of you.
REGINA CALCATERRA (Democratic strategist): Good evening.
TERRY HOLT (Republican strategist): Hey, Bill.
HEMMER: Terry, why do politicians fall into this trap consistently?
HOLT: It may be in the genetic makeup, Bill. I --
HEMMER: What do you mean?
HOLT: -- I don't know. But, you know, Al Gore -- I could -- think I could make an argument that Al Gore lost the election in 2000 because he had a chronic problem with exaggeration. He claimed to have invented the Internet, and we really got him with that one. But then, late in the campaign, he said that his grandmother was taking the same prescription drug medicine as his dog, and it turned out not to be true.
Politicians get in trouble with the American people when they make stuff up, and over time, it says something about that politician's character. If this continues to happen, it might disqualify Barack Obama with the American people. If they can't trust him, they can't vote for him.
HEMMER: I want to get Regina --
CALCATERRA: OK, great.
HEMMER: -- to respond to that. But hang on one second. Let me just flesh out the story a little bit, OK? Apparently, it was his great-uncle who went into a work camp, a labor camp in Germany. Here's what the RNC said -- it wasn't -- had nothing to do with Auschwitz: "Barack Obama's dubious claim is inconsistent with world history and demands an explanation. It was Soviet troops that liberated Auschwitz, so unless his uncle was serving in the Red Army, there is no way Obama's statement yesterday can be true" -- yesterday in New Mexico. "Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief."
Before I get to the Obama response to that, Regina, go to Terry's comment.
CALCATERRA: OK. Terry, your first comment as far as Al Gore losing the presidential election in 2000 wasn't because of his misstatement about the Internet. It was because of what happened in Florida and that the vote count stopped, and the Supreme Court actually voted in favor of stopping the vote count.
HOLT: You're never going to get over that, are you?
CALCATERRA: Oh, no, actually not, it's -- that's a part of history that we both can agree with.
HOLT: Well, the American people cast their ballots based on what the candidates were like.
CALCATERRA: OK, but I will tell you what's with here is that he -- it was a misstatement, and that's all it was. Instead of explaining specifically about his great-uncle and that he was part of an American troop that -- American troops that released folks from a concentration work camp, he said Auschwitz. So he shouldn't have said Auschwitz.
From the May 27 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
DAVID HAWKINGS (Congressional Quarterly): Right. Yes, he -- I mean, he definitely misspoke. I would say he got out in front of it pretty quickly. The spokesperson came out pretty darn quickly, corrected it. There's obviously a big difference between Auschwitz and Buchenwald. They were -- they were in two different countries. They were liberated by two different groups. It seemed from the clip as though he was struggling with it, even in the moment. I'd say they got out of it pretty quick and clean.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (host): Rick?
RICK KLEIN (ABCNews.com): Well, I think -- well, you know, my grandfather tells war stories, and I forget the details of them sometimes. I think bottom line is, he has to get the facts right when you go out there in a public forum. I think that is his responsibility as a presidential candidate. But I also think that, you know, that telling an old story like this, uncle versus great-uncle, I think, is part of conversation. And getting the details of it wrong -- I don't think this is something that's going to stick. I can't imagine it getting a lot of traction.
VOGEL: You know, Greta, you hit the nail right on the head when you brought up the Reverend Wright thing. This is going to be used not as an isolated incident by Republicans to question his knowledge of military affairs, but rather as part of a fact pattern that questions his veracity. They're going to try to show him as an exaggerator, someone who can't be trusted. And when he said that he was unaware of it and initially tried to downplay his association with Reverend Wright, they're going to put this in that fact pattern. They're going to say that he originally said he would take public financing and then backed out on that. And they're going to try to show him as a chronicle -- a chronic exaggerator, like they did with Al Gore in 2000, when they seized on his every claim, starting memorably with his claim that he invented the Internet, as some say that he said, to sort of question him at every step.