The Messenger: Al Gore Saw the Future


| August 3, 2000

The Messenger: Al Gore Saw the Future


If you think there's no substantive difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush, don't blame the politicians. Blame television. Confused? Just ask Al Gore.

In a recent essay, FEED editor Steven Johnson reaches back 30 years to Al Gore's 1969 senior thesis, and finds that the Vice President may have been more visionary than you'd think. Gore's thesis, titled 'The Impact of Television on the Conduct of the Presidency: 1947-1969,' is a careful retelling of television's integration into the daily routine of the executive branch, from the first televised press conference through Lyndon Johnson's awkwardness on camera.

But Gore's most insightful argument, says Johnson, 'goes beyond what plays well on TV and starts grappling with how the medium changes the content of politics. Mass media, [Gore] argues, has a heavy center: 'Given the opportunity to speak to 'all of America' for the first time, the president was forced to find a political language that emphasized commonalities over differences. The medium drew its politicians towards the center.' -- Leif UtneGo there>>