After having hooked the reader with his inaccurate representation of the Pew study, Franken proceeds to reel the reader in with a few additional distortions.
First, Franken seems a little annoyed that the media would talk about Gore’s claim of inventing the internet. As Franken points out, Gore actually claimed to have taken the initiative in “creating” the internet, not “inventing” it.
Instead of admitting Gore made a mistake, that it at the very least sounded like he was taking a bit more credit than deserved, Franken argues that Gore is perfectly justified in claiming to have created the internet. In reality, the internet would have gone forward without Gore throwing our money at it, those taxpayer-funded grants Gore championed.
According to Franken, taking credit for that sort of thing “is what members of Congress do”. It must be a wonder to Franken, then, that members of Congress aren’t going around taking credit for “creating” works of art paid for in part by government grants.
If Franken really thinks Gore created the internet, why didn’t he encourage his friend to stress the accomplishment more during the campaign? He could have made TV ads showing Al Gore in front of a computer proclaiming, “I created the internet!” I think it’s pretty obvious why they didn’t do that.
To illustrate further “how Gore was buggered by his enemies in the media,” Franken cites Love Story. As reported by Time magazine, “Gore said [Segal] used Al and Tipper as models for the uptight preppy and his free-spirited girlfriend in Love Story.” Segal denied that Tipper was an inspiration and said Gore was a partial inspiration. So Gore had his facts wrong.
But it was okay, according to Franken, because it wasn’t Gore’s fault for claiming that he and his wife Tipper were the inspiration for the characters “Oliver Barrett” and “Jenny Cavalleri” in Love Story. It turns out that Gore’s source, a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean, had misquoted author Erich Segal. The reporter apparently wasn’t thorough enough. So what looks like a dishonest exaggeration is actually a completely honest mistake. Gore is off the hook because his source was bad. Okay, Franken has a point. Hold on.
Innocent mistake or not, Gore had stated the claim. That makes Gore a source, too. So what does Franken say about Sean Hannity, who likewise got the facts wrong because of a faulty source (Al Gore as accurately quoted in Time Magazine)? Hannity is said to be part of “an insidious, compulsive pattern.” What pattern would that be? The one that started with a newspaper mistake that was picked up by Al Gore, who passed it on to Karen Tumulty, who wrote it in Time Magazine, which was picked up by Sean Hannity? Is that the “insidious, compulsive pattern”? The very same pattern of which Gore was also a part? No. Gore is off the hook, but Hannity is “insidious”.
So consistency is not Franken’s strong point.
Franken continues his defense of Gore with Love Canal. Gore told the story of a girl who wrote him a letter about toxic waste in Toone, Tennessee. Because of that letter, Gore said he “called for a Congressional investigation and a hearing…. I looked around the country for other sites like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. Had the first hearing on that issue, and Toone, Tennessee–that was the one that you didn’t hear of–but that was the one that started it all.”
The problem here is Gore claims to have “found” Love Canal because of looking around the country for problems similar to Toone, Tennessee. It appears that he is claiming the work on Toone led to the work on Love Canal. He states that Toone “was the one that started it all”. But Love Canal, which had been a big story at the time, had long since been declared a national disaster area before Gore ever got to it. He did hold the first hearings on it, but he did not “find” Love Canal, let alone because of anything that happened in Toone, Tennessee. Franken ignores the real issue and switches it out with the fact that certain newspapers misquoted Gore as saying, “I was the one that started it all” and even “I was the one who started it all.”
Pretending the misquote is relevant, Franken goes on to state:
Chris Matthews joined in the gang bang, accusing Gore of claiming to have ‘discovered’ or even ‘invented’ Love Canal…
On NBC, ABC, pretty much everywhere, Gore the exaggerator had done it again.
So Matthews used the word “discovered” instead of “found” and it supposedly is a gang bang. As for NBC, it was never reported on the news although it was perhaps cited by Jay Leno. ABC News only mentioned it as a “Senator’s slip” and claimed Gore had “fixed” it. Once again, Franken subtly lies to his readers.
If the media had actually wanted to go after Gore, there were a lot of examples they could have cited rather than ignoring. Remember the James Lee Witt error that Gore made? In that very same debate, Gore said:
I have actually not questioned Governor Bush’s experience.
However, the New York Times had run an interview with Gore, back on March 12 of that year, in which Gore said:
You have to wonder whether [Bush] has the experience to be president. I mean, you really have to wonder.
…You have to wonder: Does Governor Bush have the experience to be president?
…Again you have to wonder: Does George Bush have the experience to be president?
In other words, he repeatedly questioned Bush’s experience.
In an earlier chapter, Franken speaks of a “tried-and-true methodology” used by the “right-wing media” (who he identifies as Fox News, The Washington Times, The New York Post, etc.). According to Franken, this is how they do it:
First, they concoct an inflammatory story that serves their political goals.(“Al Gore’s a liar.”)
Gore may have been called a liar on an opinion program, but the so-called “conservative” news never called Gore a “liar.” Responsible journalism reports objective errors in what a presidential candidate is saying, but the news organizations remained professional and presented the facts without labeling Gore a “liar.”
For example, In the New York Times on November 24, 1999, Gore claimed to have “co-sponsored” the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill. His exact words were, “I was a co-sponsor of it.” He was, of course, not a co-sponsor. Later, Gore was called on it, and admitted he had made a “mistake.” That’s what it was reported as in the “right wing media“: a mistake.
Does Franken dispute that it was a mistake? Does he think Gore actually was a co-sponsor? If not, what objection does he have to media outlets reporting the facts?
Interestingly, Franken does not express anger in his book at Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley, even though (speaking to Gore at a debate in New Hampshire) Bradley said, “Why should we believe that you will tell the truth as president if you don’t tell the truth as a candidate?” Was Bradly part of a conservative conspiracy against Gore?
They repeat it. (“Al Gore lies again!”)
And, once again, Franken is lying.
Gore could have stopped the media from reporting that his statements were false by not making false statements. Like Feb 2, 2000, when Gore claimed that he had won the New Hampshire primary “in every single demographic category.”
The “conservative” media pointed out that Bill Bradly had won among male voters, which is a pretty big demographic. Bradly also won among total voters ages 18-29. If Gore had not made the false claim, it would never have been corrected.
They embellish it. (“Are his lies pathological, or are they merely malicious?”)
They didn’t say that, either. Franken had to make up a quote instead of using something the “conservative” news media actually said. He’s embellishing what they said to accuse them of embellishing.
Nevertheless, many regular folks would indeed find Gore’s misstatements either “pathological” or “malicious”. For example, On June 16, 1999, when declaring his candidacy for president, Gore said:
when my father saw that thousands of his fellow Tennesseans were forced to obey Jim Crow laws, he knew America could do better. He saw a horizon in which his black and white constituents shared the same hopes in the same world.
The problem is, Gore’s father actually voted AGAINST the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which repudiated the Jim Crow laws. In fact, Gore’s dad participated in a 74-day filibuster in an attempt to stop the Civil Rights Act.
Franken goes on:
They try to push it into the mainstream media. All too often, they succeed. (“Tall Tales: Is What We’ve Got Here a Compulsion To Exaggerate?” New York Times, October 15, 2000.)
The article cited here by Franken details several exaggerations that have been made by Gore. If Franken thinks Gore’s statements were accurate, he should defend them. Instead, he’s angry at the media for reporting them.
Back to Franken:
Occasionally, they fail. (Despite their efforts, the mainstream media never picked up the Clinton-as-murderer stories.)
I assume he’s referring to the death of Vince Foster. Some talk radio opinion shows said there were rumors, but Franken takes great liberties, portraying it as though the right-wing news ran stories accusing the President of murder.
But even their failures serve their agenda, as evidence of liberal bias. Win-win. You got to admit. It’s a good racket.
So a few news outlets objectively report that a Presidential candidate made inaccurate statements and Franken calls that running a “racket.”