Pain and Potential

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For KCRW, I'm Nick Madigan of The Baltimore Sun with Minding the Media.

Before I get to how the media reacted to Al Gore's Nobel Prize, I want to mention the death of yet another journalist in Iraq.

He was Salih Saif Aldin of the Washington Post, who was shot in the forehead Sunday in a notoriously dangerous Bahgdad neighborhood, the same area where New York Times reporter Khalid Hassan was killed in July.

About 120 journalists have died in Iraq since the invasion. Ninety-eight of them were Iraqis.

In an editorial today, the Washington Post said Saif Aldin, who was 32 and had a 6-year-old daughter, was "one of those extraordinary Iraqis who have responded to war and upheaval in their homeland by becoming journalists."

Saif Aldin "repeatedly took on the most dangerous assignments, not because he was foolhardy but because, as he once told the newspaper's office manager, 'what's life, really, if we don't leave something good behind us?' "

Elsewhere, it's clear that Al Gore is leaving a mark of his own. The news last week that the Oscar-winning former vice president had shared the Nobel Peace Prize has revived a fevered debate in the media over his political future.

In Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle, Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli wrote that Gore must consider whether to "continue at the top of his game as a preeminent statesman on an environmental crisis or return to a territory rife with pain and potential as a Democratic presidential candidate."

Laurie David, a producer of Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, told the Chronicle that Gore and the Nobel Prize have proven "that you can change the world without being president."

In yesterday's New York Times, Paul Krugman wrote that after the prize was announced, the Wall Street Journal's editors "couldn't even bring themselves" to mention Gore's name. Instead, they listed people they thought deserved the prize more.

"At National Review Online, Iain Murray suggested that the prize should have been shared with 'that well-known peace campaigner Osama bin Laden, who implicitly endorsed Gore's stance.' "

Bin Laden once said something about climate change. So, in the twisted logic of the far right, anyone who talks about climate change must be "a friend of the terrorists," Krugman said.

The conservative Media Research Center wrote me an e-mail saying TV coverage of the Nobel win "was filled with nothing but lop-sided praise" for Gore.

"It seems the American media don't care if they lie to the American public with half the truth about Inconvenient Truth," the MRC said. "The broadcast networks made no mention of anyone who disagrees with Gore's alarmist scenario as they applauded the once (and perhaps future) presidential candidate's environmental activism."

It added that CNN's American Morning did point out nine debatable points a British judge found in the documentary, but that anchor Miles O'Brien said the errors "do not actually go after the central thesis of the film."

In Sunday's New York Times, the fake newsman Stephen Colbert wrote that, "Winning the Nobel Prize does not automatically qualify you to be commander in chief. I think George Bush has proved definitively that to be president, you don't need to care about science, literature or peace."

More seriously, Thomas L. Friedman wrote on the same page that seeing Gore "so deservedly" share the Nobel Peace Prize, it was "impossible not to note the contrast in his leadership and that of George W. Bush."

On Friday in The Nation, John Nichols wrote that Gore "has arrived at the point that most politicians can only imagine in their wildest dreams."

"The entire world is asking him to be not merely a candidate but an ecological savior," Nichols wrote. "He is more viable than he has ever been. Can Gore resist? Probably.

Should he resist? Probably not."

This is Nick Madigan of The Baltimore Sun, Minding the Media on KCRW.

Banner image: 32 year-old Salih Saif Aldin of the Washington Post
Photo: Karin Brulliard, Washington Post



Nick Madigan