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THERE THEY WENT AGAIN! When Gore endorsed Dean, pundits told an old tale. Gore said he invented the Internet:


THERE THEY WENT AGAIN: At first, when it happened, we blamed it on Fox. Tuesday morning, we were watching (and taping) Fox & Friends, the most hideous TV “news” program ever broadcast. We wanted to see how the “friends” would react to Al Gore’s impending endorsement of Dean—and sure enough, we weren’t disappointed. Instantly, the friends played the “poor Joe Lieberman boo hoo hoo” card; by that night, it was Requisite Spin, required of all Fox performers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/03, to revisit Susan Estrich’s reading). But then, as the Friends crew began to sign off, we saw what we thought was a Fox News original. As the gang began taking its leave, clowning co-host Steve Doocy said this:

DOOCY (12/9/03): You know, it’s interesting, Al Gore, the man who once took credit for inventing the Internet—
For the record, Doocy’s statement was so stupid that a bit of Fox history occurred: One of his co-hosts, E. D. Hill, interrupted and said he was wack! “That’s a misnomer” (sic), she said—but Doocy, a half-wit, just kept on going. The fatuous co-host is paid large sums to peddle his well-scripted brand of buffoonism. So never mind what Hill had said. Doocy reprised his performance:
DOOCY: No, he took credit once for inventing the Internet, has thrown his weight behind this man who is using it to raise millions of dollars!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! “Well, that does it for a very interesting Fox & Friends,” Hill replied. She pretended to scold her dumb-assed “friend” with her eyes, and mercifully, the program was over.

As we said, we chalked it up to Fox. Al Gore said he invented the Internet? After all, this inane bit of spin is so discredited that even E. D. Hill called it bogus! We marveled that Doocy would still clown this way, and we spent the day in Deep Pundit Thought. Had Gore endorsed Dean to get back at Clinton? Or was it really his hatred of Kerry’s big hair? Like all top observers, we pondered Gore’s motives—and ignored the things Gore really said.

But Al Gore said he invented the Internet would end up a growth stock this day. Members of your simpering “press corps” would stroke their thighs with the classic old groaner—indeed, some had already used Doocy’s joke, even before Doocy did! Let’s repeat: The pleasing claim is so discredited that even E. D. Hill renounced it! But you know those major pundits, with their Millonaire Pundit Values. Simpering ciphers gave the tale one more run—and they made a rank joke of your discourse.

It all began on Monday night. Readers, remember when you still respected Joe Klein? On Monday, Klein turned up on Paula Zahn Now. He performed for the beautiful Paula:

ZAHN (12/8/03): I’ve heard people say tonight, Joe Klein, that the fact that Al Gore is perceived as such an insider sort of detracts from Howard Dean’s effort to be perceived as an outsider.

KLEIN: No, I think it works the other way. I think the fact that Howard Dean is such an outsider and so popular with techies and young people and Internet sorts help Al Gore’s reputation with those sorts of people, because, remember, he was the guy who invented the Internet.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Klein clowned for the ravishing Paula. And the next morning, Steve Doocy did not stand alone. Remember your faded respect for Jeff Greenfield? Tuesday morning, Greenfield appearing on CNN’s American Morning. The clever man enjoyed an old trick. He didn’t actually say it himself. No, he just read someone’s e-mail:
GREENFIELD (12/9/03): And the third thing I would mention, and I’m not being flip—Jack Cafferty read us an e-mail about somebody who said well, of course Gore likes an Internet-based campaign, he invented the Internet!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Meanwhile, that afternoon, on Live from CNN, Miles O’Brien interviewed Ken Rudin. “Remember he invented the Internet, which helps Howard Dean,” Rudin quipped. In reply, O’Brien scolded Gore for his “mismanners” and “rude behavior” toward Lieberman. But he didn’t say a word about Rudin’s dumb-assed misstatement.

By now, we were beginning to rethink our first take on Fox. Indeed, four different hosts had been offered The Joke, and only Hill had dared to correct it! And don’t worry—other Major Mainstream Pundits would soon join in the clowning. For example, Clarence Page had a column to write. The famous pundit sat and pondered. Wednesday morning, all Chicago read this:

PAGE (12/10/03): Gore, the techno gadget freak, must be impressed with how well Dean's new-wave campaign machine rides on the cutting edge of technologies adapted to populist politics. Dean’s ability to draw crowds, organize local campaigns and raise funds has broken all expectations by his use of the device Gore once inaccurately claimed to have invented, the Internet.
Truly, these creatures can’t be human. We’ve told you this many times in the past. Perhaps now you finally believe it.

But how inane will your press corps be? If you thought we were through, your faith still runs deep. Two more sightings cry out for special mention.

Sighting one: Wednesday morning, Linda Feldmann and Liz Marlantes discussed the endorsement in the Christian Science Monitor. Yes, incredibly, they did write these words. And yes, that is their punctuation:

FELDMANN/MARLANTES (12/10/03): “If you understand the Internet, you understand that this is the coming to fruition of the full potential of the Internet, and that Dean has used it to transform politics,” says Elaine Kamarck, an adviser to Gore who teaches at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Ms. Kamarck notes that Gore, as a senator, was indeed instrumental in the development of the Internet, despite the grief he took for saying he “invented” it, and that the future is now. “We will never go back to the old political system,” she says. “That’s what Gore’s talking about.”

Good Lord! In a syndrome we’ve discussed before (links below), Feldmann even put “invented” inside quotes. Good Lord! It’s the one word Feldmann put inside quotes—and it’s the one word which Gore never said!

But we saved our favorite sighting for last. How inane are your Millionaire Pundits? Yesterday morning, the e-mails began appearing. Tim Russert had guested on Letterman Tuesday night, and—here, let one e-mailer tell you:

E-MAILER (12/10/03): I caught a bit of Tim Russert on David Letterman [last night]. I found their crocodile tears for poor Joe Lieberman quite pathetic. That was the theme—do these guys get together on this or what? Russert again claiming that Gore envied Dean since he “invented” the internet but Dean figured out how to use it. As you say, the clowning was pathetic.
No one seems to have written up Russert’s appearance, and no, Letterman doesn’t do transcripts. But we received five separate e-mails, all complaining that Tim told The Joke.

So let’s see. E. D. Hill knew the comment was bogus—but Russert ran on TV to recite it! Of course, you know why the self-impressed superstar would have done such a thing. It’s all because of the way he grew up! You may recall what he told Bernie Goldberg (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/1/03):

RUSSERT (page 80): Bernie, there’s not a moment when I’m sitting there on Meet the Press when I’m not thinking about my dad…It’s the way our dad engaged us—always give the other guy the benefit of the doubt but hear him out. Hear him out. And don’t dismiss him, and don’t brand him as anything.
Or maybe Russert clowned for Dave because of those schools he attended:
RUSSERT (page 79): I also believe that going to the schools I did—St. Bonaventure school, Canisius High School, John Carroll University—these are not fashionable, elitist schools. These are schools where you learn to read and write and learn right from wrong.
No wonder Russert’s so wonderful! And don’t forget where he picked up that one basic value:
RUSSERT (page 79): I’ve worked on garbage trucks. I drove a taxi. I tended bar. I delivered pizzas. I worked with liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites; that’s how you grew up in this interesting world, and people were always simply judged on their quality as a person: Did they tell the truth?
Did they tell the truth! Tuesday morning, E. D. Hill did. But Doocy, her partner, kept right on clowning, and soon Much Bigger Clowns were mocking their dads and making a joke of your discourse.

HEATHERS: If they didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent them. All around the Celebrity Press, those Millionaire Pundit Values are showing. What’s the real story behind Gore’s endorsement? Pundits have decided that question: The real story is the way Al Gore was incredibly rude to Joe Lieberman! Check out Richard Cohen’s column in this morning’s Post, for example. According to Cohen, Gore “betrayed” and “trashed” Lieberman, “knifed him in his back,” and “showed how squalid politics can be.” “Don’t misunderstand me,” Cohen says. “Gore was under no obligation to endorse Lieberman.” But even though Cohen mentions the war in passing, he soon is wondering why Gore really did it. Readers, these people just can’t help themselves. Cohen was puzzling hard:

COHEN: [O]verwhelmingly, I am left with the impression that policy was wed to the personal in this case…Was Gore taking a swipe at Bill Clinton, who some think favors the candidacy of Wes Clark? Was he somehow positioning himself to take on Hillary Clinton in 2008? Was he simply chafing to get back in the arena—and what better way than to do the unexpected?
Or maybe it was Kerry’s hair! Let’s have someone check with Mickey! Meanwhile, read David Broder’s accompanying column. The headline reads: “Gore’s Puzzling Intervention.” And guess what? As Broder explores the “puzzle” of Gore’s endorsement, he pulls a brilliant Susan Estrich. That’s right! As he puzzles the reason for Gore’s endorsement, he never mentions the reason Gore gave—Dean’s opposition to the war in Iraq. Broder skips Gore’s own explanation. Instead, he cites a pointless survey and says it makes Gore’s action strange:
BRODER: Kohut’s national poll of Democrats showed four candidates bunched within the margin of error—Dean, Clark, Lieberman and Gephardt—with none having more than 15 percent support…In the light of that survey and others like it, Gore’s decision to intervene early—and especially his call on Dean's rivals to “close ranks” behind the governor—is one of the more eccentric developments in modern political history.
There isn’t a mention of Gore-on-Iraq in the entire column. Not one.

Why won’t they even mention Iraq? Trust us—these people don’t give a shit about war in Iraq! They aren’t going to die in the desert, and they don’t give a good flying fig if you do. Is Al Gore right about Iraq? Is he right about the war on terror? That, of course, is a matter of judgment—but you won’t see those questions discussed in these pages. These people are Heathers, Paris Hiltons, with Millionaire Pundit Values, and they don’t give a shit about wars or Iraq. Instead, they care about phone calls to poor Joseph Lieberman! It’s all they understand; it’s their only concern; and it’s the one thing they’re willing to ponder. They “puzzle” Gore’s motives—and omit what he said! If they didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent them. But how do we oust them from power?

TOMORROW: The Mother of All Heathers, Andrea Mitchell, does Gore with Don Imus. Be prepared. (We’ll post quite late on Friday—maybe Saturday.)

BAD KOPPEL: If you didn’t see it, yes—it was bad. The second time Kucinich told Koppel to shut up, he got a long ovation from a frustrated audience. Ditto Kerry, moments later, telling Ted “where to put” his questions. At one point, we really thought that the audience might start heckling Ted. Too bad! Polite to a fault, they did not.

Koppel, of course, has those Millionaire Pundit Values. After Bush and Gore’s first debate, he couldn’t explain the simplest facts about Bush’s tax plan—but he’s willing to bust his ass to learn the size of his neighbors’ McMansions (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/3/03). For a summation of Koppel’s performance this week, we refer you to Will Saletan, who captured it well in his opening paragraphs. Dan Kennedy has also weighed in. You know what to do. Just click here. Also here.

One last point—do read that profile by Howard Kurtz (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/03). Watch Koppel’s staff as they proudly assemble the questions for which he was ridiculed.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: No, Gore didn’t say he invented the Internet. For the fullest account we have posted, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/3/02.

WHERE THEY GOT IT: It seems that Klein was first with The Joke. But on Tuesday morning, The Joke was a headline in the widely-read Hotline. Most likely, other clowns cadged it there:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Yes, we’ve worked hard with the Hotline boys in the past. But today, all our work lies in shambles.