A few nights ago in San Antonio, Al Gore gave his global-warming lecture at the American Institute of Architects’ national convention. “It’s in part a spiritual crisis,” he said. “It’s a crisis of our own self-definition – who we are. Are we creatures destined to destroy our own species? Clearly not.”
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Gore was “especially critical of the business community’s current focus on quarterly profits at the expense of sustainable business practices.” The paper further quoted Gore as saying this about the business community: “That’s functionally insane, but that is the dominant reality in the world today.”
This brings to mind at least two questions:
1. Does this sound like a man who’s thinking about running for president?
2. Does this lecture sound like a newsworthy event that the Express-News was wise to cover?
I think the answer to the second question is a slam-dunk yes. As for the first question — well, maybe that has to do with the second question.
As it turns out, Gore’s lecture was not open to the media. (As I’ve written before, Gore holds the media in some large part responsible for inaction on climate change.) This made the Express-News unhappy. “Al Gore and his crusade to raise awareness about global warming and climate change are issues of great public interest,” said the paper’s editor, Robert Rivard, “and while he has the right to address the visiting architects behind closed doors, we have an obligation to make every effort to report on his speech to a wider audience. We take climate issues seriously at our newspaper and, frankly, it’s odd that he is adamant about shutting out the press.”
So how’d Express-News reporter Anton Caputo get the story?
The paper’s public editor explains:
So here’s what happened: Our intrepid reporter, Caputo, went over to the convention center Thursday, registered under his own name and address as an “expo only” attendee and got a pass that gave him access to the speech. Then he covered it and wrote about it. It was that easy.
Purists might contend that was unethical. To me, it was like crashing a Ku Klux Klan rally. Gore didn’t want coverage. We think he deserved it.
Holy cow. Did a major newspaper’s public editor just equate an Al Gore lecture with a Ku Klux Klan rally? (Next thing you know, the News-Express will be going after the Realtors.) If Gore does decide to run for president, I have a feeling he’ll have a little bit of trouble convincing some members of the business community that they are not, in fact, “functionally insane.”
(Hat tip: Jim Romenesko.)