Al Gore is right. Those are words you probably never thought you would see here, but Gore got it right when, in an interview for Rolling Stone, he rejected the proposed “reconstruction of American journalism” via government support. Gore’s view:
“I think those who propose government-funding for the support of newspapers are overlooking the essential number of the relationship between the press and the government. And you think about Richard Nixon or George W. Bush. Dick Cheney. The first time some news organization that receives government support decides to be antagonistic toward the government. Whatever source of leverage the person in charge of the government has is a potential danger to the integrity of that news organization.”
Before his election to Congress, Gore worked in the newspaper business, and he apparently still appreciates the value of an adversarial relationship between the press — even if he only appreciates it when conservatives lead the nation.
Granted, the Fourth Estate too often falls short of its mission, as Accuracy In Media has documented for 40 years, and that usually happens when liberals like Barack Obama are in control and journalists want them to succeed. But on principle, Gore is still right.
Hopefully he will have a heart-to-heart chat with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who thinks “government’s going to have to be involved” for American journalism to survive its ongoing “market failure.”
The full transcript of Gore’s three-hour interview is available at The Huffington Post. Here are other noteworthy tidbits, for better or worse:
- Gore said if blogs had developed in 2000 to the point where they are now, he would be president. “No question, no question. Absolutely.”
- He scoffed at conservative columnist George Will’s writings about global warming and praised the Internet as a tool that undermined Will. “No other serious writer after that storm would dream of citing George Will as a source for the particular point that he was trying to make because everybody knew, by then, that they were on notice, that the scientific community had blown the whistle on the information.”
- “Environmental reporters, by the way, are among the first to be let go” as newspapers downsize. Considering the tainted record of environmental reporters, that would be the silver lining around a dark media cloud.
- “I see the Internet as a great source of hope for re-energizing representative democracy, and making it possible for people to really participate.” Like, say, this year’s tea parties?
- “There is a common view that the Internet itself is Balkanizing and spreading people into point of view communities. I have a somewhat different point of view of that. When you went to the conservative blogs, you found the link to the liberal blogs. The common protocol is to embed links whether it’s a liberal blog or a conservative blog. … That takes the dialogue back and forth to the point where it begins to move toward a higher order, and the arguments become more sophisticated.”
- “I think the culture of the Internet is democratizing inherently because it really works against ideological conformity. Because the entry barriers are so low, and individuals have ease of access, you are so constantly seeing orthodoxy challenged by a million different perspectives. The architecture of the medium kind of pulls people toward more engagement with new ideas. And I think that’s a good thing.”
- “The Internet is now getting close to the stage where it will be possible for the Internet to eclipse television. … But we’re not there yet. We’re still at a stage where TV is completely dominant in our political culture.”
- On Obama’s failure to incorporate technology into governance: “Basically, the whole arm of the campaign that used the Internet was severed from the group that moved into the White House. They used the Internet as a tool for enhancing the effectiveness of their grass-roots organizers, and they did it better than anyone else. They just haven’t figured out yet how to move from campaigning to governance. … It will happen. It will happen. But it’s certainly not in evidence yet.”
- On China and other repressive regimes: “The Internet is inherently a democratizing force — even more powerful than the printing press was. … The architecture of the medium, the basic design of the information infrastructure that’s defined by the medium, has extremely low entry barriers for individuals. … The political consciousness of people is empowered by the Internet.”