Fellow Fulbrighter Harry recommends a speech by former Vice President Al Gore who promoted his Current TV network at the "We Media" conference. Al Gore's speech began with the dire warning:
American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions. (...) More than four years [after 9/11], between a third and a half [of all Americans] still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack. At first I thought the exhaustive, non-stop coverage of the O.J. trial was just an unfortunate excess that marked an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media.
Al Gore talked about this marketplace or public sphere as envisioned by the founding fathers and it's refeudalization by TV networks and then blasts the Bush administration and apparently compares rightwing bloggers with Nazis:
They placed a former male escort in the White House press pool to pose as a reporter - and then called upon him to give the president a hand at crucial moments. They paid actors to make make phony video press releases and paid cash to some reporters who were willing to take it in return for positive stories. And every day they unleash squadrons of digital brownshirts to harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the President. For these and other reasons, The US Press was recently found in a comprehensive international study to be only the 27th freest press in the world. And that too seems strange to me.
He criticizes the "imposition by management of entertainment values on the journalism profession" and the "tabloidization of mainstream news."
The coverage of political campaigns focuses on the "horse race" and little else. And the well-known axiom that guides most local television news is "if it bleeds, it leads." (To which some disheartened journalists add, "If it thinks, it stinks.") In fact, one of the few things that Red state and Blue state America agree on is that they don't trust the news media anymore. (...) One morning not long ago, I flipped on one of the news programs in hopes of seeing information about an important world event that had happened earlier that day. But the lead story was about a young man who had been hiccupping for three years. And I must say, it was interesting; he had trouble getting dates. But what I didn't see was news. This was the point made by Jon Stewart, the brilliant host of "The Daily Show," when he visited CNN's "Crossfire": there should be a distinction between news and entertainment.
Al Gore also quoted the former head of the National Security Agency, Retired Lt. General William Odom, saying "The invasion of Iraq, I believe, will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history."
Breitbart has the full text of Gore's speech via the Associated Press.