Sixteen years ago tonight, Hollywood liberals handed former Vice President Al Gore a “best documentary” Academy Award for his alarmist global warming film, An Inconvenient Truth. The award set off a year of the media touting Gore and promoting his agenda, culminating when European liberals gave him the Nobel Peace Prize in December.
But the ensuing years have shown many of Gore’s predictions to be exaggerated or outright false (see below), suggesting that the media’s correct posture should have been skepticism, instead of embarrassing adulation.
“Incredible as it may seem, Al Gore is not only totally carbon neutral, but geek-chic cool,”
the Washington Post’s William Booth gushed in a February 25, 2007 front-page profile headlined “Al Gore, Rock Star,” previewing that night’s award ceremony.
Booth trumpeted the over-the-top testimonials of Gore’s friends and allies: “‘He is more popular now than he ever was in office, and he knows it,’ says Laurie David, one of the producers of Inconvenient Truth and a Hollywood environmental activist (and wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David) who has traveled around the world promoting the film with Gore. ‘He’s a superhero now.’”
The next evening, after Gore was officially given his Oscar, CBS and ABC were over the moon, hoping that the Hollywood moment could lead to a political comeback. CBS’s Gloria Borger applauded that Gore was no longer “just another defeated presidential candidate. He’s an Oscar-winning environmental evangelist.”
ABC’s Bill Weir (now CNN’s resident climate crusader) determined that Gore now had something called “Oscar credibility” and passed along the wishful thinking “that all this pop culture love will nudge him into the race.”
The next month, when Gore showed up to champion his agenda on Capitol Hill, CBS anchor Katie Couric sounded like a giddy fangirl on the March 21 Evening News: “A movie star showed up to testify before Congress — a movie star named Al Gore.”
The not-so-subtle cover of Time magazine (May 28) chose a Christ metaphor, “The Last Temptation of Al Gore.” Writer Eric Pooley elevated the ex-Vice President above ordinary politicians:
Al Gore — the improbably charismatic, Academy Award-winning, Nobel Prize-nominated environmental prophet with an army of followers and huge reserves of political and cultural capital at his command....[Losing the 2000 election] changed Gore for the better. He dedicated himself to a larger cause, doing everything in his power to sound the alarm about the climate crisis, and that decision helped transform the way Americans think about global warming and carried Gore to a new state of grace....No wonder friends, party elders, moneymen and green leaders are still trying to talk him into running.
Later that month (May 30), CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith actually tried to pin a “Gore 2008” button on the former candidate at the end of an interview: “Here, let’s see what it looks like,” he admired. “Save that in a freeze frame.”
In July, yet another favor from the corporate media: NBC Universal poured an unprecedented 75 hours of free publicity to Gore’s “Live Earth” concert event, including three hours of prime time on NBC, plus seven hours on CNBC, 18 hours on Bravo, and more on Telemundo, mun2, Sundance, and Universal HD.
NBC Senior Vice President Dan Harrison told the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz he didn’t think all of that free airtime to a potential Democratic candidate should be seen as political: “I really don’t think climate change is a political issue....If it’s a political issue, it’s whether the political will exists to address that change.”
Yet during NBC’s primetime coverage on July 7, NBC’s Ann Curry demonstrated it was obviously political by repeatedly badgering Gore to run again for the White House: “A lot of people want me to ask you tonight if you’re running for President.... Would you answer the call?...Have you ruled it out?”
The media had another excuse to swoon when Sweden’s Nobel Prize Committee handed their 2007 Peace Prize to Gore. “This guy was laughed off the stage by some in the media, and some Democrats, as a policy stiff when he was Vice President and when he ran in 2000,” Politico’s Jim VandeHei beamed on CBS’s Early Show on October 12, soon after the announcement from Oslo. “And now he looks like a genius when it comes to global warming.”
“This award has eminent scientists everywhere excited,” ABC’s Bill Blakemore preached on ABC’s Good Morning America the next day (October 13). “Joyous, because scientists have been far more worried than anyone about global warming, finding it’s far more dangerous, coming much quicker, than they expected.”
“He became a prophet on an issue that is crucially important to the world,” ex-Time reporter Margaret Carlson exulted on Bloomberg’s Political Capital that Saturday.
“Back in 1992, the first President Bush called you ‘Ozone Man.’ He ridiculed your efforts to bring attention to climate change. He even called you crazy at one point. So is this [prize a] vindication, of a sort, for you?” NBC’s Meredith Vieira asked Gore in a typically softball interview on November 5 on Today.
In December, when Gore retrieved his Nobel Prize in Oslo, the media went back for a few more smooches. “Your critics ridiculed you as ‘Ozone Man,’ and then the movie [An Inconvenient Truth] came out,” CNN International’s Jonathan Mann told Gore in a one-hour special on December 10. “You went from being ‘Ozone Man’ to ‘The Goracle.’ This became — the Nobel Prize became ‘The Goronation.’”
As in February, the Washington Post was ready with another hard-hitting piece: “For Uma Thurman, whose credentials on the subject of sexy are impeccable, there was no question that ‘the man’s adorable.’ ‘Of course he’s sexy,’ she said. ‘He seems to be flourishing and following his calling. It’s just the most enviable thing in the world, like watching a beautiful racehorse run.’ Al Gore, sexy man. The thinking girl’s thoroughbred,” writers Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan wrote in a December 12 Style-section item.
But in the years since, Gore’s “documentary” has fallen flat on the facts. Earlier this year, FoxNews.com’s Thomas Catenacci wrote about Gore’s hyped claims on rising sea levels: “In his 2006 global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Gore predicted that the global sea level could rise as much as 20 feet ‘in the near future.’...[But] between 1993-2021, the sea level has ticked up 3.8 inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At that rate, it would take approximately 1,136 years for the world's sea level to rise 20 feet.”
In the film, Gore shamelessly hyped how this rise would flood huge swaths of the San Francisco Bay area and the state of Florida. “A lot of people live in these areas,” he apocalyptically warned. (You can watch the video here.)
And the New York Post noted last year that while “polar bears [were] featured in Al Gore’s terrifying movie An Inconvenient Truth... the reality is that polar bear numbers have been increasing — from somewhere between five and ten thousand polar bears in the 1960s, up to around 26,000 today.”
Back in 2007, a Media Research Center study showed that the elite media were censoring anyone who disagreed with Gore’s climate change horror story: “MRC’s analysts found just four stories out of 115 (just over 3%) contained any mention of dissent from Gore’s approach to global warming — and even those stories were heavily stacked in favor of his ‘climate crisis’ position.”
In retrospect, the year of “the Goracle” turned out to be the year when the media celebrated the not-credible hype of a liberal politician eager for redemption. And they don’t seem to have learned very much in the intervening 16 years.
For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.