Since it's amazing how persistent the idea that Al Gore was an awful candidate is -- with special focus on his allegedly bad debate performance -- it's worth returning to this simple fact:But without question, “Al Gore’s [alleged] operatic sighs” played a key role in Campaign 2000. In the wake of that first Bush-Gore debate, TV journalists put Gore’s (infrequent) sighs on a tape; jacked the volume way, way up; and played them again and again, in a loop. And yes, this seemed to affect the election. In the immediate aftermath of that debate, five polls of viewers were taken; in all five polls, viewers said that Gore had won the debate, by an average margin of ten points. But so what? After “journalists” played that loop tape—and flogged some trivial errors by Gore—judgments about the debate began changing. Within a week, Gore lost his lead in the national polls. He was forced to fight from behind right through Election Day.To be clear: it wasn't "the public" that thought Gore's sighing was more important that the substantive matters, or that Gore's trivial errors about which particular FEMA official accompanied him on a particular visit were more important than George Bush's baldfaced howlers about his fiscal proposals. It was the press. People who actually watched the debate thought Gore won; people who learned about it from press coverage didn't. And it's not clear what a candidate can do in the face of such skewed priorities. It is, however, crucial to be alert to the ways these narratives develop and to counteract them before the fact.
The Perpetuation Of False Memes (Its Bad!)
I seem to be on a if you say it enough it becomes effectively true thing. Over at LG&M they have a great little piece demonstrating how destructive such stupidity can be. Remember Al Gore in 2000? A little perspective. Here you go: