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Al Gore’s New Worry: Media Climate Change

John on May 17, 2007 at 10:39 am

Al Gore has a new book out called The Assault on Truth. If this sample chapter available on Time’s website is representative, it looks to be a sequence of obvious points broken up by non-sequitur pronouncements about the end of the world. Yes, that’s right, Gore is now worried about Media Climate Change:

American democracy is now in danger—not from any one set of ideas, but from unprecedented changes in the environment within which ideas either live and spread, or wither and die. I do not mean the physical environment; I mean what is called the public sphere, or the marketplace of ideas.

[...]

The potential for manipulating mass opinions and feelings initially discovered by commercial advertisers is now being even more aggressively exploited by a new generation of media Machiavellis. The combination of ever more sophisticated public opinion sampling techniques and the increasing use of powerful computers to parse and subdivide the American people according to “psychographic” categories that identify their susceptibility to individually tailored appeals has further magnified the power of propagandistic electronic messaging that has created a harsh new reality for the functioning of our democracy.

As a result, our democracy is in danger of being hollowed out. In order to reclaim our birthright, we Americans must resolve to repair the systemic decay of the public forum. We must create new ways to engage in a genuine and not manipulative conversation about our future. We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public’s ability to discern the truth. Americans in both parties should insist on the re-establishment of respect for the rule of reason.

Not mentioned anywhere in Gore’s rant are the 40% of Americans who suspect the government had a role in 9/11. I guess that would be an inconvenient truth, since most of those same people probably have a copy of Earth in the Balance at hand.

What Gore says is mostly trivial; what he doesn’t say demonstrates his book is an instance of the media savvy propaganda he is wont to decry. And when I listen to Gore babbling about “media Machiavellis” who have taken over politics, one individual comes to mind immediately. Need a hint? He was the most poll driven President in history. He was once caught laughing as he walked out of a funeral, but he swiftly shifted to a pout when he noticed cameras watching him. He hired Dick Morris (Machiavelli incarnate!) to assist him in “triangulating” his presidency. Who is this guy? Why its Bill Clinton, the guy Gore served with for eight years as Vice President. Funny how Bill’s name doesn’t show up here at all.

Read it for yourself. What Gore says is mostly trivial; what he doesn’t say demonstrates his book is an instance of the media savvy propaganda he is wont to decry. He’s right about one thing though. The web makes it a lot easier to bat such nonsense down.

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