CBS and NBC Champion Gore's 'Green Gauntlet' to End Fossil Fuels

The media love affair with Al Gore continues. Thursday night, after Gore delivered a speech calling for the end of “carbon-based fuels” within ten years, CBS anchor Katie Couric asserted that “as many as 10 million families could have their electricity shut off this year because they simply can't pay their bills,” but, she assured viewers, “Al Gore says there is a green answer.” Reporter Nancy Cordes then trumpeted: “The man who has cast himself as the country's environmental conscience issued an audacious dare to America's next President.” Cordes concluded with how “both Barack Obama and John McCain accepted Gore's challenge. As McCain put it, Katie, if the Vice President says it's doable, I believe it's doable.”

Introducing her interview with Gore, which she traveled to Washington, DC to conduct, Couric hailed: “Al Gore laid down a green gauntlet today.” And she couldn't resist reminding viewers that Gore's “environmental work earned him a Nobel prize” before she helpfully cued him up on energy policy: “It really is multi-tiered, isn't it? I mean, it's a national security issue, it's an environmental issue.” Couric soon moved on to pushing Gore about accepting the VP slot or at least “being, say, an environmental czar” in Obama's administration.

“Our Planet,” fill-in NBC anchor Ann Curry teased, "Al Gore's ambitious energy plan for America off fossil fuels within ten years. Is it possible?” Reporter Ann Thompson celebrated how Gore “threw down the gauntlet to the nation to dramatically change the way America generates electricity.” After reporting Gore's plan would cost $3 trillion, Thompson called Gore “undaunted” and concluded: “And he says the time to move is now.”

In the Cordes piece on the CBS Evening News, she turned to a liberal to confirm Gore's wisdom: “Is this a realistic goal or is it pie in the sky?” Tyson Slocum of the far-left Public Citizen insisted: “Oh, no, it's very realistic.” Cordes then offered this innocuous description of him: “Clean energy advocate Tyson Slocum.”

ABC's World News limited coverage on Thursday night to a summary of his call to end fossil fuel use and a brief excerpt from Claire Shipman's interview with Gore (a soundbite of Gore explaining the futility of more offshore drilling), but Friday's Good Morning America will show no such restraint and air much more of the interview.

The backdrop for Gore during all the interviews: A banner for “We Can Solve the Climate Crisis.”

This was hardly the first time Curry, Thompson and Couric have slobbered over Gore:

My October 12 NewsBusters rundown, “ABC, CBS and NBC Hail 'Sweet Vindication' for Al Gore,” began:
All three broadcast network evening newscasts led Friday night by celebrating Al Gore's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, portraying it as "sweet vindication" for him while presuming his global warming views are beyond dispute and speculating about the "tantalizing prospect" of a presidential run....

CBS's Katie Couric wondered: "Will the former Vice President now go after the prize he lost, the biggest prize in American politics?" She touted him as "the first American Vice President to win this most prestigious award since Charles Dawes back in 1926." Reporter John Blackstone hailed "a remarkable comeback for a man who seven years ago seemed all but finished with public life," a comeback attributable to how Gore "traveled the world with a slide show talking about the reality of global warming."

NBC anchor Brian Williams empathized with how "he never was awarded what he tried so hard to get and wanted so badly -- the American presidency -- but today former Vice President Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." Anne Thompson stressed the "prize has done nothing to stop the speculation about Gore's political future." She enthused that a presidential bid by Gore is "a tantalizing prospect," though "few expect" it to happen. Thompson concluded by seeing complete vindication: "Gore's co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, left no doubt that man is responsible for global warming. The debate now is over how much the climate will change if nothing is done."...

The July 10, 2007 MRC CyberAlert article, “Gore Thanks NBC for 'Live Earth' Coverage, Curry Urges Him to Run,” recited:

Appearing with Today news reader and Dateline anchor Ann Curry during NBC's prime time coverage Saturday of Al Gore's "Live Earth" concerts, Gore gave a shout out to the network for its donation to his global warming cause, as Gore told Curry: "Thanks for what NBC has been doing." Curry didn't exactly deliver a hard-hitting interview. When Gore declared the concerts "the largest global entertainment event in all of history," she congratulated him before pressing him about running for President, suggesting that "without you there will not be the political will in the White House to fight global warming." She pleaded: "A lot of people want me to ask you tonight if you're running for President. And I know what you're answer is gonna be, believe me. I gotta ask you though. After fueling this grass roots movement, if you become convinced that without you there will not be the political will in the White House to fight global warming to the level that is required, because the clock is ticking, would you answer the call? Would you answer the call, yes or no?"

The May 25, 2007 NewsBusters item, “CBS Champions the New 'Al Gore 2.0,' Now Known as 'The Goreacle,'” recounted:

"He was once called 'Mr. Stiff.' Now he's known as 'The Goreacle,' the new Al Gore," CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric touted in plugging an upcoming Friday night story. With "Gore 2.0" on screen, Couric set up the subsequent tribute by asserting that "no one's getting more attention than the latest edition of Al Gore. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on Gore 2.0." Attention from the media, certainly. Alfonsi trumpeted how "Al Gore seems to have gone from awkward to almost slick," proposing that "all it took was eight years, some melting polar ice caps and an Oscar win for his documentary."

Interspersed with clips of Gore on various news and entertainment shows, Alfonsi hailed how "he spread the word about global warming, and now is changing the political climate. In some polls, Gore is third for the Democratic nomination, and he's not even a candidate. And he's come out with another book, The Assault on Reason." In his media tour for it, he's "knocking the media with one arm and the Bush administration with the other."...
The March 21, 2007 NewsBusters posting, “Nets Trumpet Global Warming Warnings from 'Movie Star Named Gore,'” reported:
ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased his lead Wednesday night story by touting how "Al Gore goes back to Capitol Hill for the first time since the year 2000 and finds a heated debate on global warming." But the broadcast network evening newscasts didn't get to the debate. They were too busy trumpeting Gore's cause and barely touching his critics....

Katie Couric celebrated "a lot of excitement on Capitol Hill. A movie star showed up to testify before Congress -- a movie star named Al Gore." Gloria Borger recalled that "the last time Gore appeared on Capitol Hill was in his official role as Vice President, certifying his own loss in the disputed 2000 election," but she championed how "he came back today as a winner, his popular movie, An Inconvenient Truth, grabbing an Oscar." Borger concluded: "Gore could still get in late and run for President. Maybe that's why Hillary Clinton didn't gush all over him today like her fellow Democrats." What excuse do journalists have for their gushing?...
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided these transcripts of the Gore stories on the CBS and NBC evening newscasts from Thursday, July 17:

CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Americans can certainly use some relief. And it's not just gasoline but all energy prices. The percent of our income we spent on energy has been rising steadily this century to nearly 7 percent, the highest in nearly two decades. As many as 10 million families could have their electricity shut off this year because they simply can't pay their bills. A red flag, but Al Gore says there is a green answer.

NANCY CORDES: The man who has cast himself as the country's environmental conscience issued an audacious dare to America's next President.

AL GORE: -so today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

CORDES: That would mean fully replacing all the coal and natural gas that currently power America's electric grid with wind, solar, and other earth-friendly energy sources by 2018. Is this a realistic goal or is it pie in the sky?

TYSON SLOCUM, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Oh, no, it's very realistic.

CORDES: Clean energy advocate Tyson Slocum says record energy prices present a unique political opportunity.

SLOCUM: I think Congress has already been trying to pass bills that would start the building of our alternative energy infrastructure. It's clear that the future of energy is not with fossil fuels.

CORDES: And they're burning a hole in America's pocketbook. Skyrocketing oil prices have driven the cost of gasoline up 39 percent in the past year, and heating oil up 42 percent. While rising coal and natural gas prices have pushed propane up 28 percent and electricity up nearly 4 percent with the worst still to come.

MARK WOLFE, NATIONAL ENERGY ASSISTANCE DIRECTOR’S ASSOCIATION: Well, we're looking at this coming winter, really it’s different from previous years. Energy's always been expensive in poor families, but now it's hitting the catastrophic point.

CORDES: In Chicago, 72-year-old Annie McTizic has stopped using her AC, her TV, even her radio to save electricity. But she still faces shutoff next week.

ANNIE MCTIZIC, CHICAGO RESIDENT: There's no way I could possibly pay that bill that big, you know? I cannot pay that bill.

CORDES: But the kind of energy overhaul proposed by the former Vice President doesn't come cheap, either, as he acknowledged in his interview with Katie Couric.

COURIC: Your own group says, Vice President Gore, it will cost between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion.

GORE: But once we built it, the fuel is free. The sunshine and the wind are here. China can't bid up the price. It's not going to run out. So we need to switch to a new system.

CORDES: This afternoon, both Barack Obama and John McCain accepted Gore's challenge. As McCain put it, Katie, if the Vice President says it's doable, I believe it's doable.
Later in the newscast:
KATIE COURIC: As we told you earlier, Al Gore laid down a green gauntlet today, challenging the nation to produce all our electricity from renewable sources -- like windmills and solar panels -- and do it within 10 years. Here in Washington today, I spoke one on one with the former Vice President whose environmental work earned him a Nobel prize. He acknowledges his plan would cost as much as $3 trillion. Vice President Gore, let me just ask you about this challenge you put forth today, to briefly explain what prompted you to do this. Why?

AL GORE: We've got to end our dependence on oil and coal. They're rising rapidly in price. That's why gasoline prices are going up, and it's why electricity rates are going up. But the new demand for oil and coal from China and these other fast-growing countries means that the only way we're going to escape the rising prices and the dependence on foreign sources is by switching to renewable sources.

COURIC: You've set a 10-year deadline. Is that realistic?

GORE: I think it is because there's some challenges – think of the Apollo program, the interstate highway system. There's some challenges that are really important to the future of the country that can't be done in a single year or two years.

COURIC: Do you think the political will is there to change the way we do business so dramatically in this country?

GORE: I think we're getting there. I don't think it's there on Capitol Hill. I don't think it’s there in the White House. I think it's beginning to build pretty steadily among the American people. People are really hurt by these high gasoline prices, and people have caught on after 35 years to the fact that simply producing more oil does not bring down the price of gasoline.

COURIC: It really is multi-tiered, isn't it? I mean, it's a national security issue, it’s an environmental issue.

GORE: Yeah. One of the reasons why our country's had such a hard time dealing with this is it does involve national security, energy, the economy, and the environment. But there's a common thread that runs through all of it. The key is ending our dependence on carbon-based fuels. And if we grab a hold of that thread and pull it, the other problems begin to unravel, and we’ve got the answer right in our hands. It's to switch over from carbon-based fuels to renewable energy.

COURIC: Are you impressed, Vice President Gore, by Senator McCain's commitment to the environment?

GORE: I think he deserves credit for having taken leadership positions in years past at a time when it was hard for people in his party to do that.

COURIC: Senator Obama said during the primary season there would be a place at the table for Al Gore in an Obama administration.

GORE: Well, that's a very nice thing for anybody to say and I appreciate it. I would not take a formal position in any administration.

COURIC: So you can't see yourself being, say, an environmental czar, helping to shape environmental policy or energy policy in a new administration?

GORE: Well, it's a really nice idea. I don't think that's the best way for me to serve my country.

COURIC: What about the VP slot?

GORE: No.

COURIC: Come on, help me make some news here.

GORE: I have many times said -- you know, I have a personal term limit.

Full transcript and video of the entire interview, as posted by CBSNews.com.


NBC Nightly News:

ANN CURRY, TEASE: Our Planet: Al Gore's ambitious energy plan for America off fossil fuels within ten years. Is it possible?

ANN CURRY: Back to oil, former Vice President Al Gore, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to fight global warming, says it is time for Americans to break their dependence on oil. Today he's out with a long-term plan, and he's comparing it to the effort to put a man on the moon back in the 1960s. NBC's chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson talked to Al Gore today.

ANNE THOMPSON: With all the trappings of a campaign rally, today, Al Gore threw down the gauntlet to the nation to dramatically change the way America generates electricity.

AL GORE: Today, I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

THOMPSON: How do we reach that goal?

GORE: Well, some parts of our energy system are harder to change than others. But the quickest and easiest place to introduce renewable energy – like solar power and wind power, geothermal energy – is in the generation of electricity.

THOMPSON: But you didn't mention cost in your speech, and I understand that what you're talking about is up to a $3 trillion investment over 30 years.

GORE: It's an investment worth making because we cannot continue being so dependent on expensive foreign oil and dirty coal when both are rising in price.

THOMPSON: But how do you convince an American public to spend trillions of dollars on clean energy?

GORE: Because that's the way to get a reduction in energy costs because the fuel that we use now, oil and coal, is very expensive and getting more expensive. The fuel that we use for renewable energy is free.

THOMPSON: The country would have to spend billions building transmission lines and upgrading the grid. So this renewable energy could travel from wind farms on the Texas plains and solar plants in the Nevada Desert to the cities and towns that need it. Gore is undaunted.

GORE: When enough people share the passionate conviction that we have to solve the climate crisis, then the political system will shift into high gear and move quickly.

THOMPSON: And he says the time to move is now. Anne Thompson, NBC News, Washington.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center