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FOX News Covers Gore’s Testimony By Trying To Paint Him As A Hypocrite

Reported by Ellen - March 22, 2007 -

Our own Chrish summed up Big Story’s coverage of Al Gore’s Congressional appearance yesterday (3/21/07) as “Al Gore is fat, wrong and running for president.” Hannity & Colmes spent most of two segments debating whether or not he’s a hypocrite. Hypocrite or fat and wrong? With all that “news” to consider there wasn’t much time to go over Gore’s actual testimony. The portion that was played was selectively edited to reflect poorly on Gore. With video.

Alan Colmes introduced the first Gore discussion on Hannity & Colmes with a scripted introduction saying that Senator James Inhofe was “visibly upset that Al Gore was not answering his questions.” A clip was played of an exchange between Inhofe and Gore in which Inhofe accused Gore of not answering his question. That was it for Gore’s testimony.

“Fair and balanced” FOX News somehow left out the part where Senator Barbara Boxer, the Committee Chair, felt the need to intercede and tell Inhofe to let Gore answer his questions. As Think Progress reported, Inhofe said Gore could respond when he was done talking, but Boxer wouldn’t have it: “No, that isn’t the rule. You’re not making the rules. You used to when you did this. Elections have consequences. So I make the rules.” The hearing audience applauded loudly. Think Progress also has video of the larger exchange.

Also left out of FOX News’ coverage was Gore’s follow-up comment suggesting that he and Inhofe have a private discussion over breakfast, away from the cameras.

Global warming skeptic Bjorn Lomborg also testified at the hearing yesterday and, not surprisingly, he was one of the Hannity & Colmes guests. Media Matters has reported that Lomborg’s work has been discredited by several well-known environmental specialists. But while there was relentless scrutiny of Al Gore’s lifestyle and some to his credibility, none was given to Lomborg. Still, it was hard to take Lomborg seriously. His bleached blond hair and Harrison Ford looks made him look more like a FOX News reporter than a scientist. If Lomborg was interested in working for FOX, he probably blew it by resisting Sean Hannity’s none-too-subtle attempts to get Lomborg to call Gore a hypocrite.

Things started out well enough with Lomborg, from Hannity’s perspective. Lomborg told Colmes, “Basically, Al Gore goes out and tells these WILDLY exaggerated stories about what’s gonna happen. Probably the most famous clip is where he tells us, essentially, that sea levels are gonna rise about 20 feet which is a far cry from what the UN Climate Panel is telling us, which is one foot.”

As Media Matters noted, Lomborg’s made a false comparison. Al Gore said sea levels would rise 20 feet if either the West Arctic Ice Shelf or the Greenland Ice Dome melted or broke off into the sea. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported on another phenomena, the effect on sea levels of "[c]ontinued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates."

However, the other guest, Jon Coifman, of the Natural Resources Defense Council (misidentified on the screen as “Ntl Resources Defense”) never stepped in to correct this misapprehension.

With his finger pointing and his voice loud with petulant belligerence, Hannity started his portion of the discussion by browbeating Coifman about Gore’s use of a private jet.

Coifman maintained his composure but never was able to take the wind out of Hannity’s bullyboy sails. Hint: Make a joke at his expense.

“Is he a hypocrite when he flies in a private jet?” Hannity harangued. “Yes or no?”

Coifman knew better than to answer the question so Hannity’s temper tantrum grew more theatrical. “You are such a sycophant!”

As Coifman started to say that Gore has made it clear that everyone can do something to reduce emissions, Hannity cut him off to go back to Lomborg.

But Lomborg was not the hoped-for patsy. First, he disputed Hannity’s assertion that warming is a matter of comparison. “It depends on where you start measuring from, doesn’t it?” Hannity “asked.”

“Well, not actually,” Lomborg answered. “Our best information does indicate that temperatures have been going up.” Then, he added, “I don’t think it’s so much about Al Gore, what he does, personally. I think it’s much more a question of saying ‘What is Al Gore actually telling us?’”

Hannity was clearly displeased. “Al Gore IS a hypocrite,” Hannity declared.

Lomborg said he agreed entirely that Gore is an alarmist but “Obviously, he has to fly more because he’s going around telling people about this.”

“Get off his private jet,” Hannity said sulkily as Colmes ended the segment.

By the way, it’s worth noting again that Hannity’s concern about the private jet is not because he wants Gore to reduce greenhouse emissions, but that someone will prevent HIM from flying in a private jet. Check out Judy's post about Hannity's refusal to speak at a college because it would not provide him with a private jet, and turned down a first class ticket as an inadequate substitute.

In Part 2, guest Chris Horner was up to speed on his conservative smear tactics. He not only jumped right in with them, he knew how to do it with slick soundbites. First, he made the false comparison between purchasing carbon offsets and paying someone else to be faithful to offset cheating on your wife. Of course, he "joked" that Colmes was the more likely cheater. Later, the glib Horner wisecracked, “Four luxury houses and (Gore) tells ME to take cold showers and string a clothesline? …Everybody but the fabulous Gore girls should take cold showers.”

“By the way, your book is excellent, Chris,” an enthusiastic Hannity worked in. In fact, he endorsed Horner’s book twice during the segment, not an everyday occurrence.

When it was Colmes’ turn, he read off some facts about Gore’s energy usage, how he has recently purchased green energy blocks equivalent to recycling 2.48 million aluminum cans. “Why don’t you, Chris, give him some credit and stop slamming the guy and smearing him.”

Horner dismissed that as “a gesture.”

The other guest, John Passacantado, of Greenpeace, allowed himself to be bullied by Hannity about Gore but during Colmes’ portion, Passacantado got in a few slick comments of his own. He noted that even companies like Exxon Mobil are going green. Then he likened Horner to a tobacco defender and said, “Even Exxon Mobil won’t fund Horner’s research any more.”