WashPost Puffs Karenna Gore, and Her Very "Mainstream, Centrist" Dad, Too

Even though Al Gore never became president, Karenna Gore Schiff is getting another round of puffery over her new 500-page-plus book on female heroes, "Lighting the Way." (She did "Today" on NBC last week.) Yesterday's big profile in the Washington Post Style section displayed how they can let their hair down and display their less objective, more personal style -- and it's clear that personally, they're just in love with her. Post writer Bob Thompson theorized to her that it's odd that she would delight in women fighting mainstream opinion, since her dad was mainstream enough to almost get elected: 

We're not criticizing dad , we assure her. [Italics his] Yet we're talking about the son of a U.S. senator, a Harvard-educated family scion seemingly born to high office. We're talking about a congressman, senator and then a vice presidential candidate who balanced a centrist presidential ticket by carefully tipping it neither left nor right.

I'd like to say it's refreshing or nostalgic to remember the old 1992 liberal-media stereotypes about what a conservative Democrat Al Gore was, no matter how much his MoveOn screaming shows us the True Al underneath. But I can't.

Thompson's oh-so-quirky theme is that Karenna is a feminist who loves pioneering women  because Tipper Gore wouldn't let her watch "Mighty Mouse," because the constant damsel-in-distress theme wasn't empowering. But mostly, Thompson just constantly feels Karenna's pain as her father was "caricatured" by an uncaring liberal media elite.

The first sentence: "Let's begin with a brief case study in how the cynical, superficial American media (that's us) can distort the lives of political figures and their families." He belabors the point for several paragraphs and then repeats his line before we get to the cutesy Mighty Mouse premise: "Ah, but then Schiff lets her guard down for an instant -- despite a lifetime of watching journalists turn Al and Tipper Gore into unrecognizable caricatures of the parents she knows and loves -- and lets slip something we can twist into a sexier lead."

Later, he repeats Karenna's anti-media complaints: "Speaking of media distortions: Schiff recalls how her mother got typecast as a pro-censorship prude." Then he throws in the "Mighty Mouse" again. But he's glad Karenna learned her lesson. "She became a feminist at 11," [Tipper] Gore says. "When I say feminist, I'm talking about equality and awareness of perceptions of roles." She means perhaps 11 is too young for the birds and the bees, and the heroic right to abortion, on demand.

Thompson leaves one thing out. Conservatives? Of course, silly. No, I mean the fact that the allegedly uncaring liberal media relentlessly "informed" us in 2000 of Al Gore's enchantingly human side. And repeatedly puffed Karenna as part of its crusade to do so.

The August 16, 1999 Newsweek, for one:

Newsweek suggested Chelsea Clinton’s got some competition in the Politician’s Progeny Puffball Department with its valentine to Al Gore’s oldest daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff: "Over lunch with a Newsweek correspondent last week, Karenna seemed a smooth blend of her mother's peppiness and her father's gravitas."

The biggest puffball came from Time's Tamala Edwards in the August 21, 2000 edition, who portrayed Karenna as a virtual campaign manager for Daddy (and then, shouldn't she share some of the blame for bumbling it?) After telling a story about 14-year-old Karenna being drunk, Edwards explained that this teen also discovered on the campaign trail that Al Gore was part Sid Vicious:

Karenna came to define her father in her own way, a way at odds with his establishmentarian image. The teen decided that Gore and his insurgent bid were of a piece with the defiant punk bands she sneaked out to see. ‘I felt like we were trying to overthrow the Old Guard,’ she says."

And then, the August 28, 2000 edition of Time's "Winners and Losers":

In Time's "Winners and Losers" feature two weeks ago, Dick Cheney was a loser for his "Clinton-bashing red-meat speech." The only Democratic losers this week were targets of friendly campaign advice: "Gore consultants: Guys, put a cork in it (except to Time). You keep making your client look like a mere pawn." The winners included Karenna Gore Schiff ("Advice to Al: Keep her onstage as well as behind the scenes") and of course, lip-locking Tipper ("'80s music scold; now Joe's the prude. H-wood, America digs you. And that dance, that kiss.")

The word "feminist" came up once, as we've showed. The word "liberal" never quite did, except to explain what Dad was not. Except for Karenna's touting of Mother Jones, which  might be misunderstood, thought Thompson: "Or take labor organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, better known these days for lending her name to a left-wing magazine than for her efforts to confront the early 20th-century horrors of child labor."

But "left-wing" would be an appropriate label for Karenna, since she sounds in this article  exactly like her slicked-back MoveOn-pleasing pop, describing the "rush to war" in Iraq:

She was stunned by the way people who disagreed with the administration's decision to go to war or even questioned the way the war was to be conducted were "shut up and shouted down and pushed aside and more or less called traitors."

For more on puffing the Gore kids, see here.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis