The day after Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama in Detroit, MSNBC kept repeating the allegedly big news with the on-air question "Will Gore Help or Hurt Obama?" Left out of that question: Who cares? Does Gore's endorsement matter at all?
Pundits usually declare in today's media-saturated world that endorsements from major politicians or movie stars just don't have much impact. A Who's Who of the Beautiful People in Hollywood endorsed and actively campaigned for John Kerry -- and had no impact.
With Al Gore it's the same thing. He doesn't bring a single vote Obama doesn't already have. He could have participated in the process, but he waited until the primary challenge from Hillary was over. Now he supports Obama. Where in the world is the news there?
But this is Obama. Anything related to Obama that could be construed as helpful becomes news.
Look no further than Obama being endorsed by Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy in January. ABC's David Wright oozed, "The audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny." CBS's Harry Smith announced "In the civic religion that is Democratic politics, the most treasured covenant was passed to the young senator from Illinois." NBC's Lee Cowan proclaimed, "The endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar."
A few days later, Obama was trounced by Hillary in Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts -- by 16 points! -- but the reporters who screamed like overly zealous bobby-soxers at an old Sinatra concert just shrugged.
Brit Hume reported afterward on "Fox News" that a national Rasmussen poll showed that just 30 percent said a Kennedy endorsement made them more likely to vote for Obama, while 33 percent said it had no impact, and 34 percent said it actually made them less likely to go Obama. It was even worse when the pollster threw in independents and Republicans.
The media have worked hard to transform Al Gore into a global environmental hero, winner of every honor from the best-documentary Oscar to the Nobel Peace Prize. He's certainly become enormously wealthy in this decade, wealthy enough to serve as a cartoon villain of soak-the-rich liberals from his energy-hogging mansion in Nashville. But do the media really care whether Gore's alleged electricity will bring a charge to Obama? They're going to proclaim one whether it ever happens or not. In fact, they already have.
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