New York Times' Hit Job on Al Gore Sparks Controversy

al gore hit job photo

Photo via Business Week

The green blogosphere has been alight with the startling news of the latest hit job on Al Gore. Startling news of a hit job on Al Gore? What is this, 1999? Gore, and the many people who appreciate the good work he's done have gotten used to deflecting baseless attacks from political opponents, the fossil fuel lobbies, and those who'd like to see the nation go right on polluting. The startling news this time was that the hit job came from the New York Times.The New York Times' Sloppy Attack on Gore
The piece by John Broder, which ran a couple days ago, attempts to cast doubt on the fact that Al Gore was both advocating legislation that would support a transition to a clean energy economy government and (Gasp!) investing in clean energy technologies. Some call it putting your money where your mouth is, others, I guess, call it nefarious. The piece was ominously entitled Gore's Dual Role - Advocate and Investor--as though he were guilty of some sleazy, duplicitous agenda.

It repeats the (very) bogus claim that Gore stands to become "the world's first carbon billionaire"--one of the favorite charges of his more radical opponents. The piece states that

Few people have been as vocal about the urgency of global warming and the need to reinvent the way the world produces and consumes energy. And few have put as much money behind their advocacy as Mr. Gore and are as well positioned to profit from this green transformation, if and when it comes.
Which makes it sound as though Gore has been toiling for dozens of years to spread the word on environmental and climate issues just to reap profits from all that clean energy technology he invested in--not exactly a get rich quick scheme if you ask me.

Debunking the Al Gore Hit Job - Again
Grist's Dave Roberts, who calls the piece a "baseless hit job," finds the premise equally ridiculous:

Gore is "positioned to profit," you understand. No wonder he's dedicated most of his adult life to schlepping around the world giving a slide show to tens of thousands of people! It was all to marginally increase the return on his future investments! Diabolical.
The article neglects to mention the fact that Gore gives away all of his profits the charities that raise awareness on climate change, like the Alliance for Climate Protection. Also, he's not poised to become anywhere close to a billionaire at all--there are no facts anywhere to support that claim. And he couldn't--the money goes straight to charity. Every penny of it.

But people hate Gore--by spreading the word about climate change, he appears to be advising people how to live, and people do not like to be told how to live. I will no doubt get comments on this very post that call Gore a 'hypocrite' or claim that he lives in a mansion that consumes more electricity than Times Square. These people have perhaps never heard of an ad hominem argument, and don't understand that these kind of attacks are inherently fallacious.

Gore certainly knew that he was entering contentious waters when he began giving his slideshow years ago--and it takes guts to continue to do so, even while powerful people are determined to drag his name through the mud. Gore has arguably done more to educate the public about climate change than any single other figure, and he supports and invests in companies that are part of a low carbon energy solution. And for that, even the New York Times piles on the criticism, unsupported by fact. Put simply, Gore deserves better.

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