Has Former Vice President Al Gore now taken a page from President George Bush’s bad p.r. book? Those of us who decried the tight control of crowds and press coverage of the Bush campaign and administration cannot condone this:

Reporters and TV news cameras will be banned from almost all of former Vice President Al Gore’s appearance Jan. 23 in Sioux Falls.Gore is the Boe Forum speaker at Augustana College and plans a talk called “Thinking Green: Economic Strategy for the 21st Century.”

What’s so vital that Gore can’t allow the press to cover a talk that has been seen in movie theaters and see on DVD? FYI, this site reviewed his movie An Inconvenient Truth and gave it a highly-positive review. SEE OUR REVIEW HERE. MORE:

Kalee Kreider, a Gore staffer in Nashville, confirmed by e-mail that news media will be asked to leave his talk after the introduction and that Gore will not hold a press conference.Gore has agreed to meet with college and high school students before the speech, said Arthur Huseboe, executive director of Augustana’s Center for Western Studies, which sponsors the forum.

Still, the rule does not quite jibe with the image of Gore the tireless crusader from the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” spreading urgent warnings about global warming.

Most assuredly not: it’s the same image that George W. Bush and his entourage have been transmitting for years now…of a leader and group around him who are trying to clamp down on coverage of what he says to partisans when no one is around to either question it or report it. AND:

The only other Boe Forum speaker to decline a news conference was Queen Noor of Jordan, Huseboe said. Past speakers have included former President George H.W. Bush, former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and former British Prime Minister John Major.

Perhaps none of them understand the workings of public relations as well as Mr. Gore and his associates.

Actually, this p.r. operation has a sense of deja vu — of the same kind of stumbling that cost Gore the White House in 2000. PLUS:

Kreider said copyright issues necessitate closing Gore’s slide show to the press. She did not give a reason for declining to hold a news conference.”Do I find it odd? I guess if I were a speaker, and I had to do this kind of stuff all of the time, I might have.”

So Gore’s slide show that is in the movies and available so that you and I can watch it on DVD can’t be witnessed by the press. And he can’t take any questions of the press.

Perhaps Gore isn’t thinking of running for President after all. And, if he is, perhaps he shouldn’t…

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has some thoughts, too...

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Pyst

    The media/press gets plenty of time with Gore, and alot more than Bush ever has given. The press might be tossed so he doesn’t have to cater to them after his speech, so he can spend time talking to and answering the students in the crowd instead of the press, whom in your case count themselves as more important than the audience in said forum.

  • So we’re supposed to give Gore a pass because he’s Gore but if Bush does it and we decry it in our posts during the campaign and elsewhere we use a different standard. Nope. I used to be a journalist. There could have been another way than kicking the media totally out. Truly rotten p.r. It shows he’s getting bad advice.

  • He’s a private citizen, isn’t he? To the best of my knowledge he hasn’t declared for president in 2008. How, might I ask, is this even remotely newsworthy?

  • carpeicthus

    No need to have a press conference, but I don’t see the reason to kick press out. I guess he just wants to have a conversation with the students, and it’s easier than telling a journalist not to ask questions.

  • Gary

    I don’t know. He’s not currently running for anything and he’s not on the public payroll. I admit it would be troubling if the two above conditions were true. Since they’re not, I suppose he has the right to do what he wants.

    George Bush jetted around the country, half of which was covered by taxpayers. More importantly, he was running for President–which is supposed to be a leader of us *all*.

    Al may be moving in the wrong direction, but I don’t see it having happened yet. If this becomes the norm amongst both parties, well, we may as well move. The parties do have a lock on the system, as we know.

  • Lynx

    Besides it being bad PR, why the hell would he do it? Is he going to say some top secret thing that he hasn’t said in his maybe 1000 past speeches? I don’t exactly approve but then he’s not in government anymore, so closed-door meetings don’t take transparency away from administration, since he’s not in it. Still, I’d love for someone to tell me what he could possibly stand to gain by closing the doors to the public eye.

  • pacatrue

    I have to disagree with Joe as well. If this were a presidential candidate or someone giving a major speech to the public, then, sure, he should be open to the public. But what’s wrong with someone giving a speech to college kids without having to cater every word he says to the Press? I’ve only attended one political rally in my life, which was a candidate Clinton rally incentral Illinois in 92, I guess. All of us normal citizens spent our entire times hidden behind the press corp with their gigantic platform, so that we saw less of the candidate than if we had stayed at home – watching the footage from the press corp. Now, Clinton was a candidate and therefore should be covered by the press and be open to the public. But the truth remains that the national press’ footprint is not transparent and they WILL get in the way between Gore and his student audience. If Gore’s goal is to actually speak to the students and not to the nation, then I’m OK with the press being absent every once in a while.

  • Des

    Dems. They say they are liberals and then ban everything. He may have something to do with Pelosi and Dingell doing the enery saving tax breaks by TAXING energy resources. So, we should take Al seriously because it’s a government program throught Pelosi’s Fight’n Firsts and a way to cut funds for Iraq and get more tax money.

    Anyway, bloggers went on a foreign IP banning fest and comment search and destroy to some business, so it’s all okay, Al does too.

  • CaseyL

    Christ almighty, people. It’s not a political event; it’s a talk at a college.

    One, it’s standard, nowadays, for recorders and cameras to be banned at events such as public lectures. Copyright issues are one reason; another is what the event is supposed to be for. This one is supposed to be for the students. Not the media; not the public: the students – who are excited to be there, and deserve to be the focus of his attention.

    Have you ever seen a media-covered event? TV and the newspapers zoom in on whoever’s on stage, blocking the view for the people who are actually, y’know, attending.

    And if there’s a Q&A afterwards, he probably wants students to feel they can ask questions without showing up in the news afterwards.

  • Although I can see the political value of avoiding ANY comparisons to Bush…

    Gore is NOT on the public payroll. Nor, despite how mauch many of we on the left might wish it, is he running for office.

    Gore is NOT president of the United States (alas).

    Gore did not (apparently) screen his audience for party affiliation.

    And unless someone has heard about Gore’s secret plan to end the war in Iraq, he doesn’t seem poised to committing news, and hasn’t for months.

    But why not hold a press conference anyway?

    Who knows, maybe he wants to get to bed early, why shouldn’t he?

    What this story says most to me is the desparation with which some would like to paint prominent Dems into the same black corner as W.

  • Yeah, a private citizen and the president of the United States – OF COURSE we should hold them to the same standards, right? Come on. This is idiotic.

  • Jan

    He’s a private citizen, and maybe one getting just a bit fed up with having the same redundant question about 2008 asked of him. Maybe when the media actually starts to report on the PLANETARY CRISIS we face as if they really give a damn instead of just looking for another 08 speculation story, they will be seen as credible.

  • pacatrue

    Since we’ve all piled up on Joe’s blog entry, I will add something that I cut the last time, which is: definitely, yes, if Gore makes a habit of traveling around the nation giving major speeches at which he routinely tosses out everyone who might disagree with him, then he should be ridiculed. And it should move from ridicule to concern if he takes a public office or is running for said office. Same standards as Bush. At the moment, however, I get the impression that he gives 50 open-to-the-public-and-press speeches and is giving one that’s closed. Not a big deal yet. If he repeats it endlessly, then I agree that at a minimum it’s bad PR.

  • Pyst

    Looks like to me the press loses this round with the commenters as well Joe. Gore owes the press nothing as he is a private citizen at a closed function at a university (good point CaseyL), so he was giving a lecture as it were, and the press shouldn’t cry.

    Btw, your picture should have been a press memeber whining.

  • Pyst

    Otherwise the press is going to start demanding access to college classes around the nation next. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to have to compete with journalists in the classroom?

  • This post surprised me, Joe. I consider you among the most moderate and sensible posters here. For you to miss the distinction between stifling protest at a presidential speech and excluding the media circus from a speech by a private citizen at a college is just flat baffling.