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September 27, 2002

Alex Frantz:
When Al Gore talks, conservatives listen. And then they lie. And they never, ever, apologize or retract. They just play up one lie until it’s discredited, or long after, and then go on to the next one. Conservatives pundits have been doing so for years. And their younger brethren in the blogosphere have learned the same rules.
More. Read it. [12:19 AM]
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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Alex Frantz::

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 09:52 AM:

Hmm. Yeah, the Internet thing is a bad rap, but that's one of those hideous things that pols need to be careful of. Once you get stuck with it--it never goes away.

The luckless thing about Gore is not that he fibs, they all do for political reasons, but that somehow he's the one that gets caught all the time. For example: Frantz doesn't mention this quote: "I felt betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield even as Saddam began to renew his persecution of the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south, groups that we had, after all, encouraged to rise up against Saddam."

Now, that is a lie. And it is easily checked--because that's what the news stations did--and showed Gore's speech from 1991 where he commended Bush for abiding by the UN mandate and ceasing hostilities as soon as Kuwait was liberated.

It's interesting that Michael Kelly, whom Frantz really takes to task, was fired from The New Republic by Marty Peretz precisely because Peretz found him over the top on Gore. But even this week's TNR felt compelled to criticize Gore's speech, concluding: his speech—which included, as a two-sentence aside, the charge that on the domestic front the administration was conducting an "attack on fundamental constitutional rights"—consisted of neither honest criticism nor honest opposition.

David Margolies ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 11:59 AM:

John Farrell writes:

For example: Frantz doesn't mention this quote: "I felt betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield even as Saddam began to renew his persecution of the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south, groups that we had, after all, encouraged to rise up against Saddam."

Now, that is a lie. And it is easily checked--because that's what the news stations did--and showed Gore's speech from 1991 where he commended Bush for abiding by the UN mandate and ceasing hostilities as soon as Kuwait was liberated.

In the speech in 1991 that Mr. Farrell is refering to, Gore (on 4/18/91) said this:

"I want to state this clearly. President Bush should not be blamed for Saddam Hussein’s survival to this point. There was throughout the war a clear consensus the United States should not include the conquest of Iraq among its objectives. On the contrary, it was universally accepted that our objective was to push Iraq out of Kuwait, and it was further understood that when this was accomplished, combat should stop."

But 5 days earlier the New York Times reported this:

`The difficulty for President Bush is that before he can extricate himself from Iraq, his postwar policy may become the centerpiece issue at the outset of the 1992 Presidential campaign season. One possible Democratic contender who supported Mr. Bush’s decision to go to war, Senator Al Gore of Tennessee, said today that Mr. Bush’s handling of the postwar insurrection in Iraq “revives the most bitter memories of humankind’s worst moments.”'

Thus Gore criticized Bush's encouraging Iraqi rebels, and then abandoning them. But he made clear that he was not criticizing Bush for not overthrowing Hussein, just for abandoning those he had encouraged to revolt (and protecting or assisting those people could have been accomplished without overthrowing Hussein).

His stamements in 1991 seem to me to be fully consistent with what he said in his recent speech. Perhaps Mr. Farrell can point out the lie?

Charles Kuffner ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 12:05 PM:

I'm going to employ Ted Barlow and Avram Grumer's rule here: If you're going to quote from a political speech, you'd better link back to the original text or I'm not going to believe you.

Meantime, why don't you check out Adam Felber for some more context? (Link via Ann Salisbury.)

Charles Kuffner ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 12:09 PM:

To be clear, my comment was aimed at Mr. Farrell. David Margolies hadn't yet commented when I started typing. I'll second Mr. Margolies' desire to know what "lie" Mr. Farrell is referring to.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 12:54 PM:

Thanks to David Margolies and Charles Kuffner for the added context from the Times. I stand corrected, gentlemen. It was not a lie (i.e, "I felt betrayed" comment.) But this just bears out my initial comment--because it looks two-faced at first glance. Looked two-faced on the news.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 12:58 PM:

(Sorry, I hit the Post button inadvertently). My initial comment being, that Gore is luckless when it comes to this kind of thing in the media.

Gary Farber ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 01:31 PM:

I think John Farrell is confusing the difference between "luckless" and "being the victim of deliberately slanted reporting because most Washington reporters decided they don't like Al Gore, and because they're lazy once they've developed a lens to view someone through [see also George-Bush-is-stupid, pre-election]."

I don't blame John Farrell for this; I expect he's not read any of the examinations of all the rest of Gore's "fibs" that similarly fall completely apart upon inspection, as they largely appeared in nooks and crannies of the Internet, and were little reported in mainstream news, where the "Gore-is-a-liar" mantra was left, unjustifiably, pinned to Gore, and indelibly tattooed by late night comedians (always deep observers of events; not).

David Margolies ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 01:48 PM:

My comments were based on those of Bob Somerby at www.dailyhowler.com (his Thursday, 9/26/02 entry). He does not provide links, but does give dates and references. (I am not sure that NYT articles from 1991 are available online, but are searchable in Nexus/Lexis, which Somerby uses.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 02:15 PM:

Gee, I think I'll go mug somebody for the change in their pockets. After all, if I'm caught, I can just observe how peculiarly "luckless" they are.

Remember, no matter how many times conservatives are caught passing on fantastic lies about Al Gore, it's all Al Gore's fault.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 02:58 PM:

Nope, unfortunately, the Times only goes back to 1996 (thus far)....

Oliver ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2002, 03:05 PM:

But... but... the "liberal media". Good thing I get all my spin analysis from Fox News like a good American.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2002, 03:16 PM:

I wouldn't call the New Republic conservative. Or Mickey Kaus.

Here's TNR's take on Gore's speech. Here's Kaus.(scroll down a bit). Interesting note in Kaus is how Gore twists Andrew Card's words to his own purpose. Maybe it's
not a lie--but it's dishonest.

I touched base at Alex Frantz's site and got a link to the Scopes page for a refutation of the infamous Internet quote. I'd be intrested in further links that debunk, for example, the list of fibs kept on National Review's site:

Here's their take on Gore's lies. Now, NRO's definitely conservative. But if these are "fantasic lies" as Patrick seems to think, peddled by NRO and other conservatives, and if they are not really Gore lies and exaggerations, I'd very much appreciate being educated by anyone with links and references to prove it. Especially, for a sample, discrediting the items on that list named: All R&D, Slick Gore, Bush Crime Record, Tobacco #1, Abortion #1, Hubert Humphrey, and Hometown.

Were those made up?

I think Alex is perfectly right to point out that many on the list are indeed ludicrously trivial. But—if true, and I emphasize if should someone show they're really not—then it seems to me they do reveal a tendency that is worth worrying about. Why does a guy as accomplished as Gore nevertheless have this itch to exaggerate his achievements, even small ones?

I don't want to piss anyone off, but I think there's more going on here than what Gary Farber I think rightly calls the laziness of the Washington Press Corps.

Yes, Gore does have to get some of the blame. I think what gets the Washington Press corps going after Gore all the time is this: He insults their intelligence and talks down to them, and he fibs about his accomplishments mostly to serve his own political purpose. Ted Kennedy will lie, too--but he usually has a bill to beat the drums for, not just the furthering of his own career. That's what pisses of the press. Do they go too far? I think so. But I'm not one of the press corps who has to follow pols around for a living day after day and cover their lectures and speeches.
After 25 years in the public eye, you'd think Gore ought to know by now how to play the press.

As added comment, there's no doubt in my mind that Dashcle was partly steamed this week because of Gore—not Bush. Gore saw an opportunity to make his speech and it showed up just how little the Democratic establishment is going after Bush on the subject of Iraq.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2002, 12:58 AM:

41 alleged lies

First, Jim, I notice that NRO's site lists 41 "lies" that they are alleging Gore told. Of these, you are primarily concerned with seven. That's a pretty small percentage. If 34 out of 42 items listed are trivial or fallacious, isn't that a "tendency" of NRO's that you should be concerned with?

Second, I'm going to deal with an item that isn't one of your seven, because it's one I've debunked before, so I know it's bullshit. I'm talking about the EITC item. Here's what the NRO has to say:

November 1, 1999; Time interview
CLAIM: "I was the author of that proposal [the Earned Income Tax Credit]. I wrote that, so I say [to Bill Bradley], Welcome aboard. That is something for which I have been the principal proponent for a long time."
TRUTH: The original EITC law was enacted in 1975. Gore entered Congress in 1977.

Damn. Last time I did this Time's archive was accessible for free. Now they want me to pay. Fortunately I found the full quote:

"[Bradley's proposals were] an old-style approach that spends a lot of money but doesn't have any new ideas. [He proposes] the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. I was the author of that proposal. I wrote that, so I say, welcome aboard. That is something for which I have been the principal proponent for a long time."

If my memory is correct, those bracketed phrases were present in the original -- that's Time paraphrasing Gore. Anyway, do you see what's going on here? Whoever put together that piece NRO is reporting took an honest statement of Gore's, and edited to make it look like a lie. And it's still on NRO's Gore Lies page. So why should I trust anything else on that page?

OK, dealing with a few of the ones you mentioned:

Washington Post, Sept. 24
CLAIM: At Sept. 22 press conference, Gore says, "I've been a part of the discussions on the strategic reserve since the days when it was first established."
TRUTH: President Ford established the Strategic Petroleum Reserves when he signed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) on December 22, 1975 97 two years before Al Gore became a congressman.

Did Gore say he was a congressman at the time? According to a Gore campaign spokesman, Gore was serving on a House Commerce Committee panel.

October 17; third presidential debate, St. Louis
CLAIM: "The big drug companies85are now spending more money on advertising and promotion 97 you see all these ads 97 than they are on research and development."
TRUTH: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported in July that drug companies spent between $5.8 billion and $8.3 billion on marketing and $21 billion on research in 1998, according to CBS News.

Sure, that's one year, according to one source. Is it possible that Gore had another source that said different? Families USA, a nonprofit healthcare advocacy group, claims that top US drug companies spent twice as much on marketing as on research in 2001. I suspect this is an area where the answer you get depends on who you ask. Even if it's a lie, it's not Gore's lie.

May 2, 2000; Atlanta YWCA speech
CLAIM: "Under Bush, Texas' recidivism rate has increased by 25 percent."
TRUTH: Nobody knows what has happened to the recidivism rate under Bush because those figures haven't been published, due to extensive lag times in reporting. The most recent numbers are from 1994, according to the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council.

According to stats.org, the Gore campaign got the figure from newspaper and magazine stories that published it unattributed. Not the best move on the campaign's part, but understandable. A lie, but not Gore's lie.

March 1, 2000; San Jose Mercury News
CLAIM: "It's not fair to say, 'Okay, after his sister died, he continued in the same relationship with the tobacco industry.' I did not. I did not. I began to confront them forcefully. I don't see the inconsistency there."
TRUTH: The same month Gore's sister died in 1984, he received a $1,000 speaking fee from U.S. Tobacco. The next year, he voted against cigarette and tobacco tax increases three times and favored a bill allowing major cigarette makers to purchase discounted tobacco. In the 1988 campaign, Gore bragged of his tobacco background: "I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put [tobacco] in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it, I've dug in it, I've sprayed it, I've chopped it, I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn, and stripped it and sold it" (Newsday, 2-26-88).

Again, the Merc wants me to pay to see their archives. I'm not inclined to trust an isolated excerpt. Anyway, what exactly is the lie here? Have they demonstrated that he did not "confront them forcefully"? That the relationship was the same after his sister's death as before?

February 20, 2000; New York Times
CLAIM: Gore said he has "always, always, always" supported Roe v. Wade.
TRUTH: In 1977, Rep. Gore voted for the Hyde Amendment, which says that abortion "takes the life of an unborn child who is a living human being," and that there is no constitutional right to abortion. He cast many other votes favorable to the pro-life cause and earned an 84 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee.

Again, we've got a sentence fragment out of context. I want to see more details before I believe it.

December 27, 1999; Washington Post
CLAIM: Gore has suggested that he contributed important lines to Hubert Humphrey's acceptance speech at the 1968 Democratic convention. "Young Gore later often told the story . . . [A]s [he] sat in the convention hall and looked up at Humphrey in the spotlight, he thought he heard his own words coming back to him."
TRUTH: When Gore's supposed conduit to Humphrey denied the influence, Gore blamed his recollection on "Faulty memory. Faulty memory."

And the point is what exactly? I notice that the alleged lie doesn't actually quote Gore at all.

February 1988; two ads
CLAIM: "I'm Al Gore. I grew up on a farm," and "growing up in Carthage, Tennessee, I learned our bedrock values . . ."
TRUTH: Gore, the son of a senator, grew up primarily at the Fairfax Hotel in Washington, D.C., in a suite of rooms overlooking Embassy Row. He graduated from the ritzy St. Albans National Cathedral School, also in the capital.

I notice that the NRO was willing to believe Gore about working on a farm when they thought they could build a lie out of it (see Toboacco #1). Why are they claiming it's not true now? Oh, and that "suite" in the Fairfax? It was small enough that Al had to ahare a bedroom with his sister.

So, as far as "tendencies" go, do you think there's a national-level politician alive that could survive the kind of scrutiny Al Gore's been subject to? I'm pretty sure that you could go over the life of anyone with a long history of public statements and invent the same kind of "lies".

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2002, 01:00 AM:

Arg, I meant John, not Jim.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2002, 09:52 AM:


Thanks for the references! I do appreciate it. I only picked 7 because I didn't just want to unload the whole page on everyone. However, your points are well taken. Why believe the lot of them if these holes are already showing up in the sample?

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2002, 02:02 PM:

John: I had assumed that you had picked those particular examples because you hadn't heard them debunked before. There are other "lies" on the page--the Internet and Love Canal being the most promient--which have been refuted at length; the fact that the NRO continues to list them as lies says a great deal about the quality of this list.

David Margolies ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2002, 03:50 PM:

Another for John Farrell's benefit:

December 1, 1999; Concord High School, Concord, N.H.
CLAIM: “I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. I had the first hearing on that issue.”
TRUTH: In October 1978, Gore did hold congressional hearings on Love Canal — which he apparently “found” two months after President Carter declared it a disaster area and the federal government offered to buy the homes.

Gore was talking to High School students about getting involved in public affairs. He was asked for an example where a student made a difference. He spoke of a Tennessee high school student who wrote him about a serious pollution site in Tennessee. Gore looked into it, and found it was serious. But he could not have hearings on just a single place in Tennessee (the Federal government, after all) so he looked for other examples to illustrate the problem. In looking for other examples, he found the Love Canal (using `found' in the same way that one does when one speaks of "finding" a good restaurant). Now he had two examples, so he could hold hearings, which (the NRO admits) he did.

The full context (I do not have a link, but see the www.dailyhowler.com archives, the have many many links) of his speech makes clear what he meant. The students at the school where he was speaking told anyone who would listen they understood Gore perfectly and did not at any time believe that he had himself (or said he had himself) discovered the problems at the Love canal. No one listened to them of course. The NRO is LYING, LYING, LYING.

HH ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2003, 12:08 AM:

However it is clear at this late date that Gore did in fact claim to say that he "always always always" supported Roe... this has been reported by many varying sources and has never been refuted from what I've seen. Many other of their lies stand up to this day despite some mistakes here and there, as any of these lists will inevitably include.