David Manning Trivial Liars of the Month for July 2005

Al Gore

The Scoreboard is fully prepared to be accused of jumping the gun, but we didn't just fall off the turnip truck, friends. If the lessons of the past mean anything at all, Al Gore's much-publicized assurances that his new cable news channel (readying itself for an August debut) won't be "partisan" or ideological make him this month's "Trivial Liar" in a walk.

Like the very best trivial lies, this one is unnecessary, obvious, and absolutely nobody with any live neurons firing should believe it. Al Gore's news channel isn't going to be partisan the way Fox News is "Fair and Balanced," CBS, NBC, CNN and the New York Times don't have a pro-liberal slant, and the "O'Reilly Factor" is a "no-spin zone." Unless Al Gore has had a complete lobotomy, he still has strong beliefs and still sees the world in a particular way. This influences who he hires, the news stories he thinks are worth airing, and all his decisions, judgements and policy calls. And, Voila! We have a left-leaning, Democratic Party-friendly network.

Does anyone really believe, for example, that a Gore-built network will question global warming data or be critical of the Kyoto treaty? Of course not. Sure: Gore would say that this wouldn't be a sign of partisanship, ideology or bias, because the dangers of global warming are well-documented, and the Kyoto treaty is a wonderful thing. But not everyone thinks like this, Al. People who have a different view of the world than you do, for example. They're called "Republicans."

At least Gore has his metaphors straight. He said that he was "a recovering politician" on "step 9" of his recovery. That's apt, because for a politician to say that his projects are not partisan is much like a recovering alcoholic insisting that he is "cured." Alcoholics are never cured, and if there has ever been a candidate for President of the United States who suddenly stopped being "partisan," historians seem to have missed him. (Step 9, by the way, is "Making amends to those you have wronged" in the course of your addiction. Does this mean his new channel will "make amends" for Gore's various red-faced rants against President Bush during the 2004 campaign, when he accused him of lies, treason, and "betraying America?" Of course not, Non-Partisan Al would say. Because those accusations were "true!")

Besides, it's OK! Nobody expects or needs Al Gore to be "non-partisan," or the only human being on earth without biases. People (I'm just sure there are such people…oops! That's my bias coming through…) are interested in Gore's network because of his ideas and political views. Gore's trivial lie was dictated by marketing concerns: naturally he wants as large a viewing public as possible, and doesn't want to lose all those red states before the channel even gets on the air. But the way to really stand out among the Foxes and the CNN's and the CBS's is to be, unlike them, up front and honest about his channel's biases, and let the viewer watch its news analysis with a full understanding that opinions inevitably influence one's interpretations of the facts, and that unbiased reporting is a myth, just like the Tooth Fairy and Babe, the Blue Ox.

It's futile to tell a twelve year-old that there's really a Tooth Fairy, and it's equally futile to tell 21st Century Americans that any news channel, especially one launched by Al Gore, is non-partisan.

Futile, and trivial.



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