Al Gore’s assurances bring a smile

Al Gore’s assurances bring a smile.
Mr. Gore spent most of yesterday repeating the statement from his press release that his new company, INdTV, won’t produce news with a liberal slant but will be targeting Generation‐Y. The New York Observer has been on top of this story for the past year, and reporter Joe Hagan was quickly on the phone with the former Vice President after the announcement was made.

Mr. Gore told The Observer that his first task was to hire a programming chief, which he hoped would be his next official announcement.

“We are going to be a fresh, independent voice that is different from anything on television today,” he said. “We are really being overwhelmed with contacts from creative, young people in the industry who have some unbelievably fantastic ideas that they are presenting to us. It’s really fun. And they like the fact that we’re independent and that they can get a hearing for stuff that they really don’t think they’ve been able to present well to the conglomerate types.”

“We’re excited about launching an independent network needed more than ever in a world of conglomerate ownership,” he added, “and we are passionate about trying to democratize access to the dominant medium in America.”

Mr. Gore said he’d been asked if Howard Dean might make a talk show host for his network, and he hinted that he didn’t think Dean would be a good fit for a network targeting people in their 20s. This, of course, begs the question of how Mr. Gore himself can accomplish that.

This whole thing brings to mind three things. The first is an old joke. “If a man’s not a liberal by the time he’s 20, he’s got no heart, and if he’s not a conservative by the time he’s 30, he’s got no brain.” The point is that young people are considerably more liberal than their parents or other older people. So will the news network have a liberal tilt? It may not be deliberate, but the “voice” will unquestionably be so.

Secondly, Mr. Gore’s use of the phrase, “These stories will be in a voice that young people recognize and from a point of view they identify as their own,” is very cluetrainy (Cluetrain Manifesto) and extremely smart. In this sense, it would appear he is taking a page from OhmyNews!, which has transformed the political landscape in South Korea by involving what they call the “2030” generation in politics. That’s the same target of INdTV.

Thirdly, the former Vice President is a political animal with deep political roots. He cannot change what he is, regardless of the words that proceed from his mouth. This was also my experience with Pat Robertson, a man who is political on the inside and a broadcaster on the outside. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.

Al Gore and Joel Hyatt obviously believe it’s in the best business interests of their new network to publicly take the non‐political road. It’s smart, because to do otherwise puts them in bed with the floundering Air America (Al Franken is now thinking of running for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota), and that’s not something to be envied.

I wish them well, because I’ve always supported the idea of many voices in the media megaphone. In that spirit, I hope that whoever they hire to actually run the content has the fortitude to interject youthful argument into their news discussion. That would be a most worthwhile (ad)venture.

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