NBC's Today crew tried to put a heavy spin on the Gore split on Wednesday morning. The audience was told that the Gores' 40-year marriage wasn't a failure, it was a success, several times over. Matt Lauer even insisted their divorce was "brave" -- as if all the other old married people would do the same if they weren't cowards.
It's fine if the liberals at NBC don't want to think less of the Gores for their divorce. But can they really judge all this as bravery and success without knowing whether there was infidelity or just callous disregard or creeping selfishness? It wasn't journalism. It was just an exercise in happy talk and wishful thinking. Lee Cowan ended a news story with therapist Gail Saltz (most recently remembered on TV as the expert claiming on CNN that Rush Limbaugh has millions of listeners because he's a bully who has everyone afraid of him in their cars and homes):
COWAN: When we're saying our vows, none of us can really predict just what will be down the road. If we're lucky, we grow old together. But sometimes, we don't.
SALTZ: You wake up in your fifties and your sixties and say, "Gosh, this person I married, you know, in my twenties is not the peron I would marry today."
COWAN: The Gores' split may have sparked a conversation about love and marriage, and divorce. But there's one thing to remember.
SALTZ: I would say that a 40-year union is not a failure.
COWAN: Not forever, perhaps, but pretty close. For Today, Lee Cowan, NBC News, Los Angeles.
Matt Lauer pushed the happy talk on relationship expert Judith Sills:
LAUER: But chances are after 40 years it's not about the little things.
SILLS: That's right.
LAUER: I mean you would have to assume that 40-year union does not dissolve over the toilet seat being left up.
SILLS: Right. Right. It's because "Now I'm 60, I'm looking at the rest of my life and I'm saying not only is there not much between us, but maybe I have a chance of happiness elsewhere. Maybe someone can make me happy." Yeah.
LAUER: No and I think that's an important point. So let's turn that this on its ear for a second.
LAUER: And instead of saying this is sad, what if you attach and I'm probably gonna get letters and e-mails on this. What if you say this is brave?
SILLS: Well I think it's both. "It's sad that we can't go on forever." It's courageous to say, "At this point, my kids are grown, my public life is complete, I am stepping on to the stage myself and I've made a choice to let go of the hand I've been holding for 40 years and stand on my own."
LAUER: And, and I'm willing to face the uncertain-
SILLS: Right. For sure.
LAUER: -which can be really scary when you're in your, your late fifties or sixties or even beyond.
LAUER: You had a reaction at the end of that, that piece that we used to set up this spot and I believe it was Gail Saltz's voice we were hearing-
SILLS: Yeah, yeah.
LAUER: -where she said perhaps a 40-year, the end of a 40-year marriage should not be looked at as a failure. I mean the fact they were together 40 years is a success.
SILLS: Absolutely. The, the fact that we judge marriages as a success or failure by divorce seems false to me. The truth is, you have many marriages in that 40 years. You can have a 25-years that are beautiful, and the end of it simply the life goes out of it. Then you make a different decision. And that we judge it by failure or success like a football game.
LAUER: Is probably not right.
At 9 a.m., Lauer returned to the cheerleading:
MATT LAUER: Well I have to say I like Gail Saltz's comment on that. That after 40 years you can't call that a failure. That's a 40-year relationship.
AL ROKER: That's right.
LAUER: That's pretty much a success.
MORALES: And they had wonderful kids together.
LAUER: No question.