Okay, we thought the only people left who still believe that Al Gore actually lied about creating the Internet could be found either under a rock or in the darker corners of the Republican National Committee building.
Not so, apparently. The CBS Evening News—still trying to milk last week’s “scoop,” when it used old footage to expose Hillary Clinton’s lies about taking sniper-fire in Tuzla—last night ran a follow-up piece called “Tall Tales on the Campaign Trail.”
After showing Clinton, Obama, and McCain playing fast and loose with the truth, the report considered some tall tales from years past. It showed footage of Gore telling CNN: “I took the initiative in creating the Internet,” after which Katie Couric noted: “Gore’s statement about creating the Internet played into the Republican strategy in 2000 that he wasn’t trustworthy.”
But the notion that Gore lied, or even seriously exaggerated, about creating the Internet, has been so thoroughly debunked—by CJR and Bob Somerby among many, many others (go here for an extensive list of comprehensive debunkings of this myth)—that it’s kind of unbelievable that a national news organization could still buy into it in 2008.
We’ll do it one more time, just for CBS: Gore never said he had “invented” the Internet, as Republicans, aided by the press corps, falsely claimed. His statement that he took the initiative in creating the Internet was true. As several experts on the Internet noted at the time, Gore did play a crucial role while in Congress in developing the technology that led to the Internet. So Gore was guilty of clumsy phrasing at worst. Got it?
Of course, Couric’s report didn’t flat out say that Gore lied, only that his statement “played into the Republican strategy that Gore wasn’t trustworthy.” (Which it did, though only because news organizations passed on the GOP’s nonsense without noting that it was, in fact, nonsense which is precisely what Couric and CBS did again last night.) By including it in a report about “tall tales on the campaign trail,” alongside such confirmed falsehoods as Hillary’s Tuzla account and Bill Clinton’s claim that he didn’t know Gennifer Flowers well, CBS gave viewers the clear impression that Gore was being similarly deceptive.
Here’s another story idea for CBS: “Tall Tales on Network News.” We’ve got the perfect lead.