EDINBURGH — Former Vice President Al Gore blew through Edinburgh a few days ago and complimented the government on its contributions to diminishing the "threat'' of global warming. Government policies must be working, because it is noticeably cooler at the end of summer!
In remarks to the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Gore also said "Democracy is under attack.'' He fears the consolidation of the media in too few hands. "Democracy is a conversation,'' he said, "and the most important role of the media is to facilitate that conversation of democracy. Now the conversation is more controlled, it is more centralized.''
Gore cited as examples the Italian media, much of which is owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and the media in Russia, which has stifled dissent on television on orders from President Vladimir Putin. He also mentioned South Africa, where dissent "is disappearing and free expression is under attack.'' Funny, I thought liberal Democrats like Gore believed that when apartheid ended, all evil would disappear.
Gore told his audience, "the only thing that matters in American politics now is having enough money to put 30-second commercials on the air often enough to convince voters to elect you or re-elect you. The person who has the most money to run the most ads usually wins.''
Putting aside what could be interpreted as sour grapes over his loss in the 2000 election, Gore is right in his indictment of broadcast media and much of cable TV. Too much on television has conditioned too many viewers to the sensational instead of the cerebral. Vegetables and fruits are essential to a healthy body. Intellectual nourishment is equally important to strong minds and to a worldview that extends beyond one's baser instincts. Consider the resurrection of the JonBenet Ramsey murder case and the types of stories that get the attention of cable news. When broadcast TV does get around to covering important subjects, the liberal slant is so obvious as to preclude serious consideration of viewpoints that do not conform to the political opinions of the show hosts, anchors, producers and guest bookers.
Contemporary politics is less about ideas and more about destroying one's opponent; less about honest debate and more about getting one's simplistic talking points across; less about substance and more about physical appearance; less about challenging the audience to think and more about affirming the current views, prejudices and lower nature of "the base.''