Bytes -- November, 2000
The Hijacked Election
The US Presidential campaign has been hijacked by a ruthless,
deliberate and relentless slander and lie. Worst of all, this lie has
proven to be stunningly effective. Not only did the media fail to
report this outrage, they were complicit in it.
The lie, of course, is that Al Gore is "a pathological liar." This
slander is based upon several reported anecdotes that are demonstrably
false. But for this lie, Gore would have won the election.
Accordingly, when a pre-election Wall Street Journal poll asked "Which
candidate is more honest and straightforward?" 45% said Bush, and 29%
said Gore. A Lexis search of "gore" & "invented the internet," yielded
And yet, Al Gore has never claimed to have invented the internet. Nor
did he claim to have "discovered" Love Canal. And the "Love Story"
connection turns out to be true. In fact, virtually every
specification of the "liar" smear is a concoction of Gore's political
enemies, eagerly spread far and wide by the media. Specifically:
The "Invention" of the Internet: In an interview with
CNN's Wolf Blitzer March 9, 1999, Gore said "during my service in the
US Congress, I took the initiative in creating the internet." This is
corroborated by none other than Newt Gingrich in an September 1, 2000
CSPAN panel: "Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most
systematically worked to make sure that we got to an internet."
(Transcribed from Gingrich's voice – I have a tape). Yet "Gore claims
to have invented the internet" has become a mantra, believed now by
"Love Story:" Robert Parry reports in the
April, 2000 Washington Monthly,
"When the author, Erich
Segal, was asked . . ., he stated that the preppy hockey-playing male
lead, Oliver Barrettt IV, indeed was modeled after Gore and Gore's
Harvard roommate, actor Tommy Lee Jones." (NY Times, Dec. 14, 1997).
Gore noted his involvement in "Love Story" in a two-hour interview
with Time correspondent, Karen Tumulty, and asked that it be kept "off
the record." Tumulty violated that request, and the rest is history.
Love Canal: What Gore actually said was
"that was the one that started it all." "That" referred to toxic waste
in Toone, Tennessee." Gore also noted that the Toone situation drew
his attention to Love Canal. (He made no claim to have been actively
involved in the Love Canal case). The very next day, Gore's statement
"that was the one that started it all" was morphed by the Washington
Post into "I was the one that started it all." Immediately thereafter,
the Republican National Committee changed that to "I was the one who
started it all," and falsely re-directed the reference from Toone,
Tennessee, to Love Canal. Did the media drop a flag on that play? No
Way! And so the myth was born, and continues to flourish today.
(Parry, see above).
The Florida School: Gore's story in the first debate of
the overcrowded Florida classroom was entirely true at the time the
Gore was given the letter by the student's father, and continued to be
true for several days afterward. Gore never claimed that the student
was condemned to stand in the classroom for the entire year.
Embarrassed by the national attention, the Principal issued a false
denial that the GOP put to immediate use, without bothering to check
the facts -- ironically, the exact failure of responsibility that they
attributed to Gore.
The Buddhist Temple Incident: On the day of the temple
visit, Gore was schedule to attend a fund raiser, which was cancelled.
The GOP and the Press later merged the two events, thus falsely
labeling the temple visit as a fund-raiser. After the visit, two of
Gore's supporters, unbeknownst to Gore, contacted some of the temple
visitors and solicited donations -- a violation of the law, for which
they were subsequently convicted. Eric Boehlert,
"Gore's Too-Willing Executioners," Salon.com).
And so on -- regarding his physical labor on the Gore farm in
Tennessee (true, as Gore reported), etc.
These slanders were repeated so often that they were believed by most,
while the truth was known to very few. The smear was repeated in the
major media and in the GOP propaganda (including Bush's remark about
Gore "inventing the internet" in one of the debates). The truth had to
be dug up from fringe "liberal" publications such as The Nation, or
internet web-sites such as Salon, Slate or "Tom Paine." Two of my
sources (direct quotes by Gingrich and Tumulty) appeared quite by
accident, as I was watching CSPAN. (For documentation, see below).
And the beat goes on. Case in Point: Two days before the election,
Gore said the following at a Black church in Detroit: "When my
opponent, Gov. Bush, says that he will appoint 'strict
constructionists' to the Supreme Court I often think of the 'strictly
constructionist' meaning that was applied when the Constitution was
written -- how some people were considered three-fifths of a human
being." (Transcribed from Gore's voice on a videotape). Immediately
after showing this clip, Ollie North on MSNBC rhetorically asked
Senator Barbara Boxer, "Do you honestly believe that George Bush will
restore slavery in America?" And Chris Matthews followed the same clip
with the query: "Do you think that it was fair pool there to say that
a Bush appointed Supreme Court would interpret the Constitution the
way it was interpreted before it was amended after the Civil War -- to
treat black people as if they were only three-fifths of a person? Do
you think that is what a Bush Supreme Court would do really? C'mon,
you guys are really unbelievable! .. And they are going to enforce the
fugitive slave law too! I mean, how bad are they?"
Any moderately intelligent individual with a modicum sense of fair
play would recognize Gore's remark as an argumentum ad absurdum -- an
attempt to demonstrate the historical absurdity of "strict
constructionism." Here on MSNBC was another smear-in-the-making, with
a genesis almost identical to the "invented-the-internet" myth. Only
the proximity to the election cut this slander short.
Gore's opponents, it seems, were thus in the strange position of
concocting and perpetuating lies to "prove" that Gore concocts lies.
And in the tradition of Josef Goebbels, they understand that if a lie
is told often enough, it eventually becomes a "given" indisputable
"truth." Hence the drumbeat litany of "Love Store" and "Inventing the
Internet." And the press, by and large, not only failed to expose this
outrage -- it participated in it. And yet we are still expected to
believe (as so many do) that there is a "liberal media bias."
It is the responsibility of journalists and the press not to
function as flacks for the Republican National Committee. By
perpetuating these damaging myths, and failing to set the record
straight, they did just that.
And it got even worse: The manipulation of public opinion by the
press was clearly manifested by the reported public response to the
Presidential debates. If you saw the final debate and then followed
the succeeding press reports, you may have felt, as I did, that you
had fallen down a rabbit hole and were wandering around in Wonderland.
Never have I seen a more decisive debate victory than that scored by
Al Gore over George Bush in that debate. Gore vigorously and
confidently displayed a command of the facts and clarity of
expression. He apparently was better informed of Bush's record as
Governor of Texas than was Bush himself. In contrast, Bush appeared
hard-pressed to fill in his allotted two minutes, as he stumbled,
endlessly repeated stump speech slogans and spewed out dozens of
errors, plainly displaying his ignorance and incompetence. The
immediate public reaction confirms my impression, as do several
discerning observers (notably Anthony Lewis in his recent
"Bob and Weave").
Then the pundit machine kicked in. Gore was accused of bullying poor
Dubya, who in turn was praised for his composure and civility. Once
again, public attention was drawn away from substance and competence
toward drama criticism, stage management and psychobabble. Two days
after that debate, after the pundits told the American public what
they had seen and how they should think, the CNN poll showed that Bush
had gained a 10% lead. "Pay no attention to that man behind the
The few journalistic voices of reason have been overwhelmed by the
cacophony of irrelevance, spin, and outright slander.
Thus we no longer have the free and open press that Jefferson believed
was the foundation of a free republic. And the public, with a boost
from five compliant Supreme Court justices, elected (and appointed) a
man who, on the basis of his issues and qualifications, would be
overwhelmingly rejected at the polls, if only the press were cease its
reiterations of known falsehoods and, instead, were to accurately
report the facts to the public.
God help us all. And God save our precious republic.
Apparently, the US media will not.
For more documentation, see:
"He's No Pinocchio"
"Gore's Too-Willing Executioners,"
Post-Script: On Reliability, Validity and "Chads"
(An Unpublished Letter to the New York Times)
Are hand counts of punched ballots more "accurate" than machine
tabulations? It depends upon what one means by "accurate." Machine
counting is more reliable. Advantage to the Bush team. Hand counting
is more valid. Advantage to Gore. The Gore team has the better
The reliability/validity distinction is well-known to most practicing
teachers and to all applied statisticians. Reliable instruments give
consistent scores with narrow margins of error. Valid tests yield the
information that one is seeking. IQ tests are certifiably reliable.
But do they validly measure "intelligence." That is a very
controversial question. True-False and multiple choice tests are
unquestionably more reliable than essay exams. But philosophy
professors correctly prefer essay exams (notoriously unreliable),
since they more validly display a student’s ability to express an idea
and to criticize or construct an argument.
Punch-cards machines reliably tabulate whether or not a laser beam
has passed through a hole in the card. However, they do not validly
count votes, for when a voter punches through a card, clearly
expressing an intended vote, the chads occasionally remain attached,
or previous chads "build-up" preventing a "clean punch." . And since
the machine does not count an undetached chad, such intended votes are
not tabulated. Accordingly, punch card voting systems, while reliable,
are not completely valid.
The best remedy is visual inspection of the cards, as the laws of
Florida and Texas have recognized.