By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
There’s a tragic but true old expression that a lie can make it half way around the world before the truth can even get its pants on. Sadly, this has been proven true again this week with the $mear attack on Vice President Al Gore and his energy consumption.
Today, we noticed that the lie has made it to Germany. How did this happen and, more to the point, why does it continue to happen?
As Media Matters continues to speak out about every single day – and we all owe them thanks – the corporate media in America absolutely fails to serve the interest of the public. How could they spread this lie? How does a small, unknown organization with a $100,000 budget issue a press release containing a $mear on a respected former Vice President of the United States and have their lie echoed around the world within hours? Pathetic. (Just look at their IRS form! No officers, directors or trustees? Very little information? A P.O. box? Is it normal for an organization to spend that high a percentage of their funds on “meals?”) One reporter asking one question about this group, or about the facts behind Gore’s energy use, and the story is over. But they didn’t.
Furthermore, it’s our collective fault. As we noted in our post a few days ago, no one should have been surprised when Al Gore was attacked for the positive press he and his movie received last weekend. An Inconvenient Truth was sure to win an Oscar. Gore would then speak to a billion people about the problem of global warming. The well-funded global warming denial industry would respond, and $mearing people is their standard method of attack. They destroy our leaders.
And yet, there was surprise and a lack of preparation to fight back. How many times will one of our leaders be attacked and be marginalized before we get it through our thick heads that this is a pattern? How many times will this happen before we start to do something about it?
Al Gore was mocked as “ozone man”. Max Cleland destroyed. Howard Dean screamed out of town. McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, and Bill Clinton $meared and $meared and even impeached. Then the lies about Al Gore during his campaign against Bush. Then John Kerry swiftboated. Now Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama and John Edwards attacked. They destroy our leaders.
And not only are the targets of the attacks often caught off guard, but the Democratic institutions and leaders are often nowhere to be found when it happens!
Where was the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday as these lies gained hold? Where was any Democratic-oriented Group? There were the progressive bloggers, Media Matters and CAP’s Think Progess and very few others — the usual suspects — and this is all that Gore and our other leaders have watching their backs. They sure aren’t watching each other’s.
Last fall, we (James, Dave and Taylor Marsh) worked together on The Patriot Project. We struggled mightily to raise money to help veteran candidates like Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Charlie Brown, Jack Murtha and Chris Carney. We raised money online but traditional donors didn’t help us. The progressive bloggers are also largely unfunded and are the targets of strategic marginalization attacks themselves. The progressive donor base continues to play it safe and avoid controversy, funding the large, stale, DC-based “traditional” organizations.
And the attacks continue.
When John Kerry was the focus of the machine when he botched his joke, the wingnuts misrepresented what he said and pretended outrage, the right’s online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. And not only did no Democrat come to his aid, some actually piled on.
When Nancy Pelosi was $meared with the lie that she “demanded a luxury jet” the wingnuts misrepresented what she said and pretended outrage, the right’s online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. But how many leading Democrats and organizations joined forces to protect her?
How many similar episodes have we seen in just the last few months? Where are the Democratic institutions? Where are the other Democratic leaders? Don’t they understand that they’re next?
And this week here was Al Gore getting blind-sided and the silence was deafening. One more sad but clear example of what ails our party and our leaders.
It is a tragedy.
First the wingnuts came for Bill Clinton,
I remained silent;
I am not Bill Clinton.
When they made up stuff about Gore,
I remained silent;
I am not Gore.
When they lied about John Kerry
I didn’t speak up for him;
I complained about how he ran his campaign.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out;
I am a Democrat.