Thursday, 29 November 2007

How peaceful is Nobel winner Gore?

It’s always interesting to compare profiles in mainstream and non-corporate media outlets to detect political bias. Take, for instance, the media’s recent response to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore, former US vice-president and current environmental campaigner.

On the website of the Guardian, the UK’s most “liberal” national daily, Jessica Aldred’s timeline celebrates his long career as an environmental activist. It begins, apparently, in 1969 when after our hero graduates from Harvard he “becomes interested in the topic of global warming”. In 1976 he wins a Congress seat and holds his “first congressional hearings on climate change, and co-sponsors hearings on toxic waste and global warming”.

In 1988, while spending time with his son who is recovering from a near-fatal car accident, “Gore begins to write a book on environmental conservation”. In 1997, he helps broker the Kyoto protocol “and pushes for the passage of the treaty which calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”. In 2002, Aldred reports, Gore “criticises Bush for the war in Iraq”. In 2006, his film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, in which he discusses the politics and economics of global warming, breaks box office records in the United States for a documentary. In January 2007, it receives standing ovations at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah; in the following month it wins the Oscar for best documentary.

In July 2007, Gore organises Live Earth, a seven-continent, 24-hour sequence of concerts in London, Sydney, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hamburg and New York to raise awareness about climate change.

Finally, after he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2007, “An Inconvenient Truth” is criticised by a High Court judge for containing “nine scientific errors” (and this is picked up by Ross Clark in an assessment of Gore in The Times). Apart from the judge’s comments, not much criticism in Aldred’s PR-ish piece.

Similarly in the Sun, undiluted praise is heaped on our hero. Gordon Brown is quoted: “Al Gore is inspirational.” In the Independent, columnist Johann Hari defends Gore against the “smears” directed him by global warming denialists of the far right New Party. An editorial in the same paper describes Gore as a “green giant”. In the Daily Telegraph, columnist Damian Thompson questions why a “sanctimonious” global warming campaigner should win a peace prize at all.

Contrast all this with the critical assessment of Gore by Alexander Cockburn in a recent edition of the US-based leftist journal, The Nation (highly recommended to all medialens readers: see According to Cockburn: “For a man of peace, Gore has plenty of blood on his CV.”

For instance, he backed the contras in their terrorist campaign against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua during the 1980s, supported the US bombing of Libya in 1986 (primarily aimed at assassinating the country’s president, Col. Muammar Gaddafi); and voted for the neutron bomb, the B2 bomber, the Trident II missiles, the MX missile and the Midgetman. He was a fanatical supporter of the 1991 attacks on Iraq (which, according to Colin Powell’s official record of the conflict, led to the deaths of 250,000 Iraqi troops).

During the 1990s he called for a coup to remove the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, and as the co-ordinator of Iraq policy in the Clinton administration “presided over the sanctions that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them children”. He fully backed Nato’s bombing of Serbia in 1999; during his 2000 presidential campaign he called for the downfall of Saddam Hussein and pledged his support for Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (a leading source for the lies about Iraqi possession of WMD).

He even criticised President Bush’s recent call for cuts in the US nuclear arsenal. “Nuclear unilateralism will hinder, rather than help, arms control…Reductions alone don’t guarantee stability.”

Strange how none of this material appeared elsewhere on Fleet Street. Or did I miss it?

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