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29 March 1999

The Howler review (part III): Kristol, perhaps all too clear

Synopsis: Bill Kristol said Gore had a character flaw. His staff seems to have the same problem.

Gore Internet gaffe gives critics club for campaign
Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, 3/16/99

Internet Al, Down on the Farm
Scrapbook, The Weekly Standard, 3/29/99

Gore’s Dilemma
Peter J. Boyer, The New Yorker, 11/28/99

When Bill Kristol started the Weekly Standard, he promised us “the most ethical opinion weekly in history.” No, wait a minute, that was Bill Clinton, whose fibs Kristol loves to deride.

But now we’re confused about Kristol’s standards, and we think that he ought to explain them. When the press ginned up the latest scandal about how Al Gore can’t stop fibbing and bragging, Kristol was there, on the front lines, describing Gore’s character flaws. Here he is, in the Washington Times, discussing “Gore’s boast that he created the Internet” (Rowan Scarborough):

SCARBOROUGH: “This one is going to stick,” said William Kristol, editor and publisher of the conservative Weekly Standard...“I think this one will hurt Gore because it’s a boast and it expresses a deep character flaw of his, which is vanity,” he said. “People do have the sense that Gore is conceited and full of himself.”

But people will have lots of senses about Gore, if major journals just make things up. And that seems to be what the Standard has done in its latest “Scrapbook” entry. Gore’s descriptions of work on the Gore family farm? Scrapbook dismissed what Gore said as “preposterous,” and directed us to an old New Yorker piece about Gore’s “elegant” Washington upbringing.

But then we looked up the Peter Boyer piece, pretty much knowing the sort of thing that we’d find. And the paragraph directly before the one which Scrapbook cited described the very activities, down on the farm, that Scrapbook said hadn’t occurred!

Here at THE HOWLER, naughty words cross our minds when we come upon this kind of writing. Why, it almost seems like Scrapbook was lying--was insisting that something couldn’t have happened, when Scrapbook surely knew that it had. And then Scrapbook built on its own naughty fib, and pretended that Gore had been making things up! And Bill Kristol got fooled by his own journal’s writing, and began talking about Gore’s supposed flaws!

So we’re going to suggest that Kristol find out who’s been writing this drek in the Standard.

And it won’t be easy for him to do, because they don’t sign those Scrapbook reports! That’s right--whoever’s been putting this stuff in Scrapbook is far too slick to put his name on it! It will call on Kristol’s reportorial skills to figure out who’s been writing this stuff.

It’s known that Kristol hates deception. It’s clear he hates all character flaws. Demonization? It’s Kristol’s pet peeve. Ain’t it time for Bill Kristol to act?