Al Gore "invented the Internet" - resources

by Seth Finkelstein

Transcript: Vice President Gore on CNN's 'Late Edition'

BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and international issues in a minute, but let's just wrap up a little bit of the politics right now.

Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?

GORE: Well, I will be offering -- I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.

But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

The origins of the story:

No Credit Where It's Due
The original Wired News article by Declan McCullagh, Mar. 11, 1999, which started the claim:
"It's a time-honored tradition for presidential hopefuls to claim credit for other people's successes. ... After Gore took credit for the Internet, ...
(note - first use found so far of "invent" wording is in a mailing-list message headline composed by Declan McCullagh, publicizing a Republican press release from the story:
House Majority Leader Armey on Gore "inventing the Internet" )
The Laugh Is on Gore
One follow-up Wired News article by Declan McCullagh, Mar. 23, 1999, pressing the claim:
"Al Gore's timing was as unfortunate as his boast. Just as Republicans were beginning to eye the 2000 presidential race in earnest, the vice president offered up a whopper of a tall tale in which he claimed to have invented the Internet."
The Mother of Gore's Invention
A much later Wired News article by Declan McCullagh, Oct. 17, 2000, stating:
"If it's true that Al Gore created the Internet, then I created the "Al Gore created the Internet" story.
The basic debunking of the story:
Al Gore and The Internet
Red Rock Eater News Service, Phil Agre, Mar. 28 2000
"That Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet has got to be the most successful flat-out lie since, well, the last one."
Did Gore invent the Internet?
Salon, Scott Rosenberg, Oct. 5, 2000
"Actually, the vice president never claimed to have done so -- but he did help the Net along. Some people would rather forget that."
Al Gore's support of the Internet, by V.Cerf and B.Kahn [ I second this djf]
Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, seconded by Dave Farber, Sep 28 2000
"Bob and I believe that the vice president deserves significant credit for his early recognition of the importance of what has become the Internet."
More debunking of the story:
Al Gore and the Creation of the Internet
First Monday, Richard Wiggins, October 2000
"This article explores how the perception arose that Gore in essence padded his resume by claiming to have invented the Internet. We will then explore Gore's actual record, in particular as a U.S. Senator in the late 1980s, as an advocate for high-speed national networking. Finally we will examine this case as an example of the trivialization of discourse and debate in American politics."
Dick Armey faxed out some Internet spin. The press corps typed it up.
Daily Howler March 26 1999
"Did Vice President Gore "invent the Internet?" Better yet: Did he say that he did?"
He's No Pinocchio - How the press has exaggerated Al Gore's exaggerations
Washington Monthly, Robert Parry, Apr. 2000
"But an examination of dozens of these articles, which purport to detail the chief cases of Gore's exaggerations and lies, finds journalists often engaging in their own exaggerations or even publishing outright falsehoods about Gore."
Yet more debunking of the story:
What Gore had said wasn't silly enough. So Dick Armey--and the press corps--reinvented it.
Daily Howler, Mar. 29 1999
"Why didn't Blitzer challenge Gore's remark? Why didn't journalists comment originally? Easy. They didn't do so because what Gore had said wasn't that far off--until, with the help of credulous scribes, Dick Armey reinvented the story."
Inventing Invented The Internet!
Daily Howler, Dec. 3, 2002
"No one said Boo about Gore's remark. Then, the RNC spin-points arrived"
Detailed Internet-history debunking of the story:
Revisionist Internet History
Matrix News, John S. Quarterman, April 1999
"Almost all of the complaints I've seen about Gore's statement do not come from the people who should have the most to say about it. The one who should know as well as anybody, Vint Cerf, had quite a different opinion, ..."
Study of the story:
When Truth Doesn't Win in the Marketplace of Ideas: Entrapping Schemas, Gore, and the Internet
Chip Heath & Jonathan Bendor, Stanford University, March 10, 2003
"... we study an example where Al Gore was falsely attributed with saying that he "invented the internet." We show that the false version of Gore's statement dominated the true one in mainstream political discourse by a wide margin. This is a clear failure in the marketplace of ideas, which we document in detail."
Last updated: Fri Apr 28 09:14:05 EDT 2006

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