Nobel Prize makes Gore a target of angry readers ? Ask some readers

PUBLIC EDITOR

October 21, 2007|By PAUL MOORE | PAUL MOORE,PUBLIC EDITOR

Newspapers are often accused of printing only bad news, but you'd think a front-page report on an American's winning the Nobel Peace Prize would be considered good news. You would be wrong.

Years ago, the news that an American had won the world's most prestigious award would have been cause for celebration and national pride. It would have been received as an especially good kind of good news.

But that was then. Given the reaction of readers of The Sun and other newspapers across the country to the news that Al Gore will share this year's Nobel for his work on climate change, we can no longer assume such news is "good." Dozens of responses from Sun readers - from Web site postings, e-mails and phone calls - clearly showed how things have changed.

Because Gore was vice president for eight years and was the Democratic presidential candidate in the most divisive and contested election in decades, and because global warming/climate change remains a political as well as a scientific issue, some criticism of the Nobel committee's choice and its coverage was inevitable.

But the overall tone of reactions to The Sun's Oct. 13 front-page article, "Award Echoes Global Alarm," was astonishing, even to me - and I'm used to hearing complaints. Despite some intelligent and thoughtful criticism of the Gore news story, the outpouring of outrage at the Nobel committee's decision and the furious denigration of Gore himself was disturbing.

This follows a recent spate of mean-spirited commentary about Baltimore's Frost family, who used and endorsed the State Children's Health Insurance Program. A number of the responses on The Sun's Web site and e-mails I've received about the Frost and Gore stories suggest indifference to thoughtful consideration or facts - and to the basic tenets of civility.

A few comments that are fit to print:

From Steven N. of Baltimore: "What a pathetic sham. A bunch of `Socialist Scandinavians' awarding a prize for a bunch of crap. The fact that he's splitting it with a UN panel tells you all you need to know about the relevance of this award."

Said Norris of Nottingham, Md.: "What a farce! The inventor of the Internet is rewarded with cash for a `Convenient Lie.' "

D. Willig said: "Considering the left-wing tilt of the Nobel awards these days, this award is as titillating as a prize found in a Cracker Jack's box."

Mark G. from Washington offered a different perspective: "All the hateful comments about Gore say a lot more about the writers than they say about him. It's interesting that so many patriots aren't more proud that a fellow American won the Nobel. I guess if he isn't your kind of American, or doesn't sing to the tune of your agenda, you have to despise him and all of his accomplishments."

Dan Rodricks' Oct. 14 column, "We're all poised to go green; GOP isn't," was designed to put the Gore award in a political context. Rodricks did what a good columnist is supposed to do - engage readers and get them to think. His premise is that the potential implications of climate change make people feel powerless and it's something that most politicians would rather ignore.

He wrote: "There are economic consequences, and it means talking about how we use too much energy and drive too much, and - you know - people just don't want to hear all that stuff. They'd rather keep their Hummers and not worry about tomorrow. But Gore has changed that."

Reactions to Rodricks' column ran the gamut, but they seemed more like thoughtful discourse than the reactions to the Gore news story.

From Ron Ritchie's comment on baltimoresun.com: "Dan's article about global warming is yet another example of the liberal media jumping on the band wagon. For liberals, global warming has become a religion. ... More and bigger government is their goal and the issue of global warming is their vehicle of choice."

An Owings Mills reader responded: "Looks like Mr. Ritchie's post illustrates Rodricks' point perfectly: Global warming is real. As much as you don't want to believe it, a little thing called `science' and a whole host of evidence that cannot be ignored. "

From Peter Frost: "Al Gore is nothing more than a rabble-rousing alarmist who knows nothing of what he speaks. He pulls out bits and pieces of science that help him make his point while ignoring the real science, that we just don't really know. How egotistical are we as humans to think that we can control the climate?"

And from a "Regular Reader from Baltimore": "Well written, Dan. You're going to get a lot of flak from conservatives over this, of course. It's become a game for them to try to debunk the smog we've seen and the bad air alerts we've experienced that are caused by greenhouse gasses. Funny how only conservatives and the Chinese don't believe in global warming, while other countries with their thinking populations do. Keep writing good pieces like this one."

Paul Moore's column appears Sundays.

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