Demonstrating the insular liberal world of New York public television, PBS late-night talk show host Charlie Rose hosted an interview for Al Gore in front of a very supportive draft-Gore-for-president audience at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and then made it his Friday night national television broadcast. He asked Gore if the election was stolen in Florida, if Gore would consider running in 2008 now that he's speaking his mind freely without consultants, and how the network news elite has played a part in "The Assault on Reason."
The whole thing had the air of Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio, with Charlie Rose playing James Lipton and a supportive audience bathing the guest in adulation. Rose began with an effusive tribute, reading purple prose about how right he is on the issues and how graciously accepted defeat in 2000 (apparently leaving out the six weeks of desperate pleading and lawyering?) from two liberal columnists from The Washington Post and a liberal venture capitalist:
CHARLIE ROSE: Welcome. Albert Gore. Nashville, Tennessee. Married to Tipper Gore. Four children, two grandchildren. Written two best-sellers. "Earth in Balance" and "An Inconvenient Truth." Filmmaker, best-selling author, speaker.
There`s more. Here`s what some people -- you think there is. Here`s what some people have been saying. Richard Cohen: "Somebody ought to make a movie about Al Gore. I would call it `An Uncomplaining Life.` The movie would be about a man who did not quit, who came out of -- came off the canvas after a painfully close election -- he won the popular vote after all -- who accepted defeat graciously and tried to unite the nation, who returned to the consuming passion of his early days, the environment, and spoke endlessly on the topic almost always for free. Who starred in a documentary based on his speech and who before a billion or so people won an Academy Award for his effort. This may or may not be a stepping stone to the presidency, but Gore gives us a lesson on how to live one`s life. With an Oscar in his fist and triumph on his face, Al Gore is a man you can tell your kid about. That maybe is even better than being president." Richard Cohen.
There is more. There is Richard Branson: "I think Al Gore has almost single-handedly brought global warming to the forefront of the world."
E.J. Dionne, columnist. "Gore, to his credit, won`t talk about Florida, but I will. Whatever flaws he has, Gore suffered through an extreme injustice with great dignity. His revenge is to have been right about a lot of things, right about the power of the Internet, right about global warming, and right about Iraq."
We will talk about all of that, but we will begin talking about "The Assault on Reason" by Al Gore, former vice president of the United States. Please welcome him to the 92nd Street Y.
AL GORE (to cheers and ongoing applause): Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
CHARLIE ROSE: Let me just begin with this small question. Why would you ever think about running for president?
Gore demurred, saying " I actually don`t think I`m particularly good at politics." Rose responded with shock: "And why would you say that?" Gore said it’s because our "public forum" is trivial and "a politics of reason faces a head wind. There is more time spent in the public forum now on Anna Nicole Smith and Joey Buttafuoco [?], and whether or not Britney shaves her head, and whether or not Russell Crowe threw a telephone at the hotel concierge, than there is on whether or not the human species is going to safeguard the habitability of all of the Earth for future generations." This spurred more fawning:
AL GORE: Thank you. [Applause]
AL GORE: Yes.
This prompted Gore to begin his narrative about how "reason and logic and knowledge" suffered as we refused to see Robert Byrd as a sage before the Iraq war as he apparently asked "Why is the Senate silent, ominously silent? Why is there no effort to lay out the pros and cons of this war? Why?" He then sent the praise back in Rose’s direction:
AL GORE: Your program is an oasis, Charlie, and it is -- it stands out for that reason.
Smooch smooch. Air kisses all around. It's an oasis where anti-war folks can sit around a table and agree on how Bush and the neocons are grossly incorrect. So Rose asked if the liberal media seriously avoided having anti-war spokesmen on their airwaves before the Iraq war, and Gore quoted Dan Rather:
CHARLIE ROSE: If in fact at that time -- I mean, you know, if someone who opposed the war wanted access to Tim Russert or George Stephanopoulos or "Face the Nation" to question the war, are you saying that not any particular individual, but those programs, which are about the political dialogue, they couldn`t have had access to those programs? And those producers and those anchor people are not looking to hear from someone who disagreed with the war because they were somehow afraid of something happening to them?
AL GORE: Well, look at what Dan Rather said at the time. He said that there was serious intimidation that had a dramatic impact on news judgments. Other -- other prominent journalists have said exactly the same thing.
A few minutes later, Rose began suggesting they talk about the contested 2000 election:
CHARLIE ROSE: So I was going to make this question: When did the assault on reason, in your judgment, ending up where it is now, in its most extreme position as you argue, begin? Did it begin 50 years ago? Did it begin 20 years ago? Did it begin in 2000?
AL GORE: No, I don`t believe that. I think that -- although there was an important skirmish then. I think ...
AL GORE: Well, it depends on how you interpret the Supreme Court judgment, but ...
AL GORE: Oh, thank you, Charles.
AL GORE: We will never know because the votes weren`t counted. But ...
AL GORE: No, I mean, that`s it. Unfortunately.
AL GORE: Well, I don`t know. But some day maybe I`ll write about that. But.....
AL GORE: You know, I`ve chosen not to -- to -- to challenge the rule of law, because in our system, there really is no intermediate step between a final Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.
After some more discussion about the decision to go to war in Iraq and what the country needs next, Rose suggested that what the country might need is another Al Gore presidential campaign:
CHARLIE ROSE: Here`s what some people say about Al Gore: He would make a much more effective candidate today -- not because he`s not good at politics -- because he is somehow free, and he speaks his mind. And when he ran in 2000, he was a captive of spin doctors and consultants and all those people, and that we didn`t see the real Al Gore. And if we`d seen the real Al Gore, he would have won.
AL GORE: Well, I think that there are two parts to my answer here. One is, I think that candidates are viewed through a different lens. And that`s not always unhealthy, but I do think that`s a factor. And, secondly, I think there`s a grain of truth to the old cliche of what doesn`t kill you makes you stronger, and maybe I`ve gotten a little stronger in the last six years.
AL GORE: "What would it take for you to run?" Well, I`m not ...
AL GORE: I thought you were asking the questions.
AL GORE: I`m not looking for factors that will cause me to run. I`m not - - some people here have heard me answer this question enough times ...
AL GORE: ... that I`m just worried about being repetitious, but I really am not focused on looking for an opportunity to run. It`s true that I haven`t completely ruled it out. I don`t think that it`s necessary to do that. But I don`t expect to run. And, I don`t, therefore, know how to answer that question. I guess I would know it if I saw it, but I`m not looking for it.
This part, with Rose pointing out how the audience was begging for Gore to run, was highlighted at the very beginning of Rose’s show. Rose concluded with one last moment of fawning, reading Gore’s own book back to him and the audience, underlining his idealism:
CHARLIE ROSE: I get the last word. "This book is dedicated to my father, Senator Albert Gore Sr., 1907-1998, who had a remarkable influence on his son and his daughters. The rebirth of democracy is a conclusion" -- I quote the last -- the first paragraph of conclusion -- "Almost 3,000 years ago, Solomon warned that where there is no vision, the people perish. But surely, the converse is also true. Where there is leadership with vision and moral courage, the people will flourish and redeem Lincoln`s prophecy at Gettysburg, that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." Our thanks to former Vice President Albert Gore. Thank you.
Is there anyone who actually watches public television who has any doubt that it’s a cozy, comfy hangout for liberals to pat each other on the back for their sophistication and fine, reasoned opinions?
(Hat tip to MRC intern Joe Steigerwald for viewing this first and offering his opinion on the goo.)