Networks Champion Global Warming Warnings from 'A Movie Star Named Al Gore'
With “Planetary Emergency” on screen, NBC anchor Brian Williams excitedly announced, “Look who was back on Capitol Hill today: Al Gore.” Over on CBS, 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?
ABC's Snow and NBC's Chip Reid highlighted Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer's admonition of former Chairman Jim Inhofe for interrupting Gore -- “You're not making the rules....Elections have consequences” -- but neither bothered with any of Inhofe's substantive points. CBS's Borger, however, did: “There are non-believers, like Senator James Inhofe, who all but called Gore a hypocrite since he paid about $30,000 last year for his home energy. Gore's answer: It's not cheap being green.” CBS viewers than heard from Gore: “We buy green energy, we do not contribute to the problem that I'm joining with others to try to help solve. We pay more for clean energy.”
Not that you would know it from network journalists who treated Gore as an oracle, but even the New York Times reported last week how there's a backlash against Gore amongst scientists who believe he's exaggerating. On the MRC's TimesWatch site, Tim Graham highlighted the March 13 “Science” section article:
William Broad gave New York Times subscribers a surprise Tuesday, reporting that some scientists are "uneasy" with the soundness of Al Gore’s science in his movie and book, that some think "Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous." Broad found that underneath all the hype and the glamour and the Oscar, "part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism." For example:
"I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.”
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the March 21 ABC and CBS coverage on their evening newscasts; I handled NBC:
ABC's World News. Anchor Charles Gibson teased his lead story:
"Welcome to World News. Tonight, Al Gore goes back to Capitol Hill for the first time since the year 2000 and finds a heated debate on global warming."Gibson led, with “Global 'Emergency'” above video of Gore:
"Good evening. There was something of a time warp on Capitol Hill today. People might have been excused for taking a double take. What is Al Gore doing back at the Capitol? The last time he was on Capitol Hill, he was Vice President, there to certify the election of George W. Bush as President. Today, as Kate Snow reports, he was back to testify before two committees in his new role as an advocate on global warming."
Al Gore, at the House hearing: "I promise you, a day will come when our children and grandchildren will ask: What in God's name were they doing? Didn't they see the evidence?"
Kate Snow: "It was a reunion of sorts. Familiar-"
Gore, at the Senate hearing: "I so vividly remember when your mother came down the hallway and I opened the door and she looked at me and said, 'You made a good pick!'"
Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT): "Mom was a straight talker."
Snow: "-at times, contentious-"
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas): "You're not just off a little. You're totally wrong."
Gore, at House hearing: "The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, 'Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem.'"
Snow: "-but the discussion was, for the most part, civil. Most Democrats and Republicans agreed climate change is an urgent problem."
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill): "I agree with you that the debate over climate change is over. The fact is you've laid out some things in places that we need to go. And as a thinker, as a personality, and now a movie star-"
Gore: "Rin Tin Tin was a movie star. I just have a slide show."
Snow: "Of course, that slide show won an Oscar. And the man dubbed the 'Goracle' now jets around the planet trying to save it. Gore today called on Congress to freeze carbon emissions and figure out how to drastically reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. The message endorsed by much of the scientific community."
Prof. Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University: "I haven't heard any complaints from scientists who are actually experts on global warming. Quite the contrary, most scientists who know about the issue are really thrilled to have someone out there explaining it in plain English to the public."
Snow: "Today's hearing also produced a dramatic reminder of the shift in power on Capitol Hill."
Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma): "Why don't we do this: At the end, you can have as much time as you want to answer all of the questions-"
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cal): "No, that isn't the rule. You're not making the rules. You used to when you did this [holding gavel]. You don't do this anymore. Elections have consequences."
Snow: "At the end of the Senate hearing, Gore asked Senator Boxer if there would be a little statue for him for his appearance, Charlie. All joking aside, while there is consensus now, a lot of them agreeing that there's a problem, very hard to find legislative solutions."
CBS Evening News led with a big cocaine seizure by the Coast Guard. Katie Couric set up the Gore story late in the first segment:
"Also in Washington today, a lot of excitement on Capitol Hill. A movie star showed up to testify before Congress -- a movie star named Al Gore. Here's our national political correspondent Gloria Borger."
Al Gore: "Our world faces a true planetary emergency."
Gloria Borger: "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. He came back today as a winner, his popular movie, An Inconvenient Truth, grabbing an Oscar."
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill): "As a thinker, as a personality, and now a movie star, you can come back with those general themes, those broad things and say, 'Do this.'"
Gore: "Rin Tin Tin was a movie star. I just have a slide show."
Borger: "Actually, he now has a pulpit. Gore is the nation's foremost environmental evangelist, and Preacher Al was here."
Gore, at the House hearing: "The planet has a fever. If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant."
Borger: "Professor Gore showed up, too."
Gore: "The tilt oscillates a degree and a half on a 41,000-year cycle. There's a wobble-"
Borger: "But if presidential candidate Al Gore was in the room, he tried to stay above it all."
Gore: "We do not have time to play around with this. We do not have the luxury of making it a political football."
Borger: "But it is political. Americans now believe global warming is a real problem, so not as many Republicans are mocking Gore as they once did."
George H.W. Bush in 1996: "You know why I call him 'Ozone Man'?"
Borger: "But there are non-believers, like Senator James Inhofe, who all but called Gore a hypocrite since he paid about $30,000 last year for his home energy. Gore's answer: It's not cheap being green."
Gore: "We buy green energy, we do not contribute to the problem that I'm joining with others to try to help solve. We pay more for clean energy."
Borger: "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. Gloria Borger, CBS News, Capitol Hill."
NBC Nightly News. The tease from Brian Williams, with “Planetary Emergency” on screen:
“Look who was back on Capitol Hill today: Al Gore with an urgent warning about what he called a 'planetary emergency.'”After leading with the “constitutional crisis” over subpoenas, Williams arrived at the story:
“There were more cameras than usual on Capitol Hill today, as former Congressman, former Senator, former Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore returned to talk about the subject that's been a life-long passion of his, the environment. Our report tonight from NBC's Chip Reid.”
Chip Reid: “Al Gore spent 16 years in the House and Senate and today was welcomed like an old friend, bringing his crusade against global warming to committees in both houses.”
Gore at the House hearing: “Our world faces a true planetary emergency.”
Reid: “Just as he did in his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, he laid out his argument in great detail.”
Gore, in An Inconvenient Truth: “More of the outgoing infrared is trapped and so the atmosphere heats up worldwide. That's global warming”
Reid: “Greenhouse gases are trapping that heat, he said, causing everything from fierce hurricanes to forest fires to rising sea levels.”
Gore at the Senate hearing: “Nature is on the run.”
Reid: “If we don't act now, he said, later generations will suffer dearly.”
Gore: “They will ask, what in God's name were they doing? Didn't they see the evidence, didn't they hear the warnings?”
Reid: “ Some praised Gore, who held hearings on global warming in this same room decades ago.”
Congressman Ed Markey, (D-Mass): “What you were saying about environmental issues back then, now, retrospectively, really do make you look like a prophet.”
Reid: “But critics accused him of greatly exaggerating the threat.”
Congressman Joe Barton, (R-Texas): “On this point, Mr. Vice President, you're not just off a little, you're totally wrong.”
Reid: “And condemned his proposal for a massive tax on polluting industries. When Senator Jim Inhofe, who chaired this committee when Republicans were in charge repeatedly interrupted Gore, it took Chairman Barbara Boxer -- all four foot eleven of her -- to come to Gore's rescue.”
Senator Barbara Boxer: “You're not making the rules. You used to when you did this [holding gavel]. You don't do this anymore. Elections have consequences.” [applause]
Reid: “Gore's biggest supporters say he could do a lot more to fight global warming as President, but today he again told reporters he has no plans to run, leaving the door open just a little. Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol.”