Press Box

Getting the Gore Lies Straight

While engaging in some “investigative drinking” with the journalists covering the New Hampshire primary, Mickey Kaus discovered that the press thinks Al Gore is a liar. Today’s New York Times confirms Kaus’ findings by cataloging Gore’s many, many prevarications (“Questions Over Veracity Have Long Dogged Gore“).

But in making the case against Gore, co-author Katharine Q. Seelye leaves out one of the keystone allegations in the “Gore is a liar” rap sheet: That he discovered Love Canal. By now, that alleged lie has become such common currency that, as Brills Content reports in the March issue, it was cited in U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek and on Hardball, This Week, and C-SPAN.

Now why didn’t Seelye discuss that allegation? Perhaps it’s because it’s Seelye’s fault–and the Washington Post’s Ceci Connolly’s–that folks think Gore claimed credit for Love Canal in the first place. Which he didnt. Both papers issued corrections for their respective Dec. 1 stories that accused Gore of hogging the credit for Love Canal. As the corrections and the Content article point out, Gore took credit only for spearheading an investigation of illegally dumped toxic wastes in Tennessee and for holding the congressional hearings that looked into Love Canal.

The point here isn’t to rip Seelye for her Love Canal error: To write is to eventually goof. But the “Gore is a liar” saga isn’t complete without noting that Gore’s credibility has fallen so low that two experienced reporters heard him tell a public lie when he didn’t! The Times does its readers additional disservice by hewing to its tradition of refusing to discuss the role it plays in the shaping of news, and, by framing an excellent story–The Vice President Is a Big Fat Liar–with a passive headline about “Questions of Veracity” dogging him.