There's an irony in the title of this Patrick McIlheran blog post from yesterday:
See where Al Gore's invention lands him?The implication of the title is that Gore's "invention"--the internet--led Gore to include a fake quote from Lincoln. This is ironic in at least two ways: One, McIlheran apparently never got the memo that the "Al Gore claimed he invented the internet" story is as fake as the quote from Lincoln. (Snopes.com is the first place any savvy person will turn to check out anything found on the Internet, a savvy person once remarked.)
John McAdams notes that Al Gore's book quotes Abraham Lincoln on how bad it is when people get really rich.
The trouble is, the quote's a fake. It started showing up in the 1880s, used by opponents of capitalism then. It has lingered on, a manufactured reality that fits so perfectly into the needs of liberal bloggers that Gore, apparently, couldn't resist.
It's also ironic that McIlheran claims the quote "fits so perfectly into the needs of liberal bloggers." I am a liberal blogger, have been one for about as long as there have been liberal bloggers, and I have never seen the invented Lincoln quote before this week when it became a target of the Gore-haters. So I did some googling to see just how "perfectly" the quote fits. As of this morning, the search returns only 59 blog results, the first dozen or more of which are conservative bloggers complaining about Gore, and another ten or so are spamblogs.
And of the rest, none of them seem to be "popular" liberal blogs (i.e., it doesn't appear at Daily Kos--a separate site search confirms it--or Atrios or Talking Points Memo or Huffington Post and so on). Some of the bloggers who used the quote are themselves conservative or at least independent, and some were de-bunking it pre-Gore. In other words, the quote is so "perfect" for liberals bloggers that we pretty much never use it!
So here's McIlheran, taking Al Gore to task for using a fake Lincoln quote, himself making two huge errors of fact. Or, as he probably thinks of it, just another day at the office.
On June 10, The Washington Post published an opinion column by Andrew Ferguson about Gore's new book. [. . .] Ferguson, an editor at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard, disliked the book, waving it off as "a sprawling, untidy blast of indignation."McAdams then writes, "To ask the obvious question: if we can’t trust Gore to get easily checked historical facts right, how reliable is he on a technical issue like global warming?" I would rephrase: If we can't trust opinion columnists for the Washington Post and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to get their facts right about Al Gore, how can we trust them on anything?
What was embarrassing for both Ferguson and the Post was that in the very first sentence of his column, Ferguson made a whopping error when he condescendingly observed that The Assault on Reason had no footnotes. (The book is such a mess, footnotes would have been of no use, he suggested.) The problem, according to Ferguson, is that without footnotes readers have no way of checking the sources for the many historical quotes Gore uses in the book, including one on Page 88 from Abraham Lincoln that Ferguson would "love to know where [Gore] found."
In fact, if Ferguson had simply bothered to look, every one of the nearly 300 quotes found in The Assault on Reason is accompanied by an endnote with complete sourcing information, including the quote on Page 88 that Ferguson focuses on. The endnotes consume 20 pages of the book.
UPDATE: I meant to add when I wrote this post this morning, but forgot, a link to Anonymous Liberal and A Tiny Revolution (twice!), who point out what would be obvious to McIlheran and McAdams if they actually had bothered to look at a copy of The Assault on Reason: Al Gore cites The Lincoln Encyclopedia for the quote, meaning he did not get it from liberal bloggers. Nyah.