Al Gore wrote an article for Rolling Stone in the issue I just got. It’s about, to some measure or another, global warming, the media’s complicity in doubting global warming veracity, politicians insatiable need for campaign funds, the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, the invasion of Iraq, the banking crisis, and other fun subjects. It’s not a very good article. It’s all over the place, seemingly a directionless screed that I understand as a liberal but can’t respect as a writer.
I hate the mass media; MSNBC kills me every time, and Fox is, well, Fox. But I’ve had something rolling around in my head for a little while that Gore’s article brought up again. “Throughout American history, we relied on the vibrancy of our public square — and the quality of our democratic discourse — to make better decisions than most nations in the history of the world.”
This, I think, it a verifiably stupid argument. When I look at media in the past I don’t see the golden age like he does. I see William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. I see an incredibly ignorant populous back then just as now. Modern media might — might — be louder, but I don’t know if it’s truly worse. It’s weird for me to see a liberal make the same fire and brimstone argument of a nation in decline as conservatives make against social legislation. Because in spite of all the shit that goes down I don’t think we’re in decline, I think we’re just trying to make changes, no more or less than it was “back in the day.”
I’m not used to defending media. I’m not even sure if I am. But I do think that Al Gore is screaming fire in a movie theater just like Pat Buchanan or Bill O’Reilly. And that’s boring, and ineffectual.