CNN compared Gore to Jerry Lewis; Miles O'Brien said Gore "may be the Nutty Professor"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On American Morning and CNN Newsroom, Veronica De La Cruz, Heidi Collins, Miles O'Brien, and Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner all compared Al Gore to Jerry Lewis, with De La Cruz stating that "like Jerry Lewis in France and David Hasselhoff in Germany, Al Gore seems to be more popular in Europe than he is here in the United States." During a report on Gore receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, which included a clip of Lewis in The Nutty Professor, O'Brien said, "[President] Bush's approval rating in Europe? About 12 to 15 percent. Al Gore may be the Nutty Professor, but whichever side of the ocean he is on, he is still faring better than the man who beat him seven years ago."

During segments on the December 10 editions of CNN's American Morning and CNN Newsroom, hosts Veronica De La Cruz and Heidi Collins, CNN chief environment correspondent Miles O'Brien, and Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) senior fellow Chris Horner all compared former Vice President Al Gore to comedian Jerry Lewis, with De La Cruz stating that "like Jerry Lewis in France and David Hasselhoff in Germany, Al Gore seems to be more popular in Europe than he is here in the United States." A taped report on Gore receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo that CNN aired on both American Morning and CNN Newsroom included a clip of Lewis in The Nutty Professor. O'Brien later said, "[President] Bush's approval rating in Europe? About 12 to 15 percent. Al Gore may be the Nutty Professor, but whichever side of the ocean he is on, he is still faring better than the man who beat him seven years ago." Introducing the same segment on the 9 a.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom, Collins stated: "And our Miles O'Brien is in Norway, where he discovered the former vice president has something in common with comedian Jerry Lewis."

On CNN Newsroom, O'Brien also stated that "[y]ou have, especially in conservative circles, a lot of skepticism about the scientific process and science." O'Brien later added: "It's viewed as almost a political arm of the liberal side of things, whereas here in Europe, they see scientists as something from the ivory tower, something very different. Couple that with the fact that in the U.S., the oil and gas industry was -- has been successful over the years in muddying the waters on the science and, of course, you've got a former oil man in the Oval Office." However, O'Brien noted on October 12 -- the day it was announced that Gore and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were to receive the Nobel Peace Prize -- that "there really isn't a scientific debate anymore on [global warming]."

Barnett R. Rubin, a senior fellow at New York University's Center on International Cooperation, first noted O'Brien's comments on his Daily Kos diary.

The taped portion of the segment prominently featured several quotes from Horner, whom O'Brien identified as a "global-warming skeptic." Horner said Gore "is clearly more popular there than here. But as you open, so is Jerry Lewis." Following Horner's quote, a clip of The Nutty Professor appeared, and then O'Brien asked, "Jerry Lewis? Could Al Gore share something in common with the Nutty Professor, loved mostly overseas?"

O'Brien did not mention that CEI has reportedly received funding from energy industry sources, including more than $2 million from the Exxon Mobil Corp. since 1998, as Media Matters has noted (here, here, here, and here). Media Matters has documented instances in which Collins and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck have previously interviewed Horner without noting this fact. According to the blog Think Progress, Exxon Mobil no longer provides funding to CEI.

O'Brien later stated that "British pollster Peter Kellner also says Europeans are less likely to question science and scientists, and 90 percent of Europeans believe global warming is a clear and present danger. Americans are split down the middle."

After the segment aired on CNN Newsroom, Collins asked: "So, what's the deal? I mean, is it really fair to say that Europeans are that much more concerned about global warming than Americans?" O'Brien responded:

O'BRIEN: I think so, Heidi. I mean, I think what you have in the United States is kind of a perfect storm. You have, especially in conservative circles, a lot of skepticism about the scientific process and science.

It's viewed as almost a political arm of the liberal side of things, whereas here in Europe, they see scientists as something from the ivory tower, something very different. Couple that with the fact that in the U.S., the oil and gas industry was -- has been successful over the years in muddying the waters on the science and, of course, you've got a former oil man in the Oval Office.

All that kind of a perfect storm in the U.S., whereas here, none of those factors were in play. And as a result, there's -- Al Gore really, as he's here, is preaching to the choir.

However, on the day CNN reported that Gore and the IPCC had won the Nobel Peace Prize, O'Brien noted that "there isn't a scientific debate on [global warming] anymore." From the October 12 edition of CNN Newsroom:

O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting. You [Collins] just said a few moments ago that some scientists say that there is a dispute over the link between manmade emissions of fossil fuels, of global warming fuels, global warming gases, and the link to climate changes. But the fact is that there are very few scientists that are seeing them. And if you look at the small handful that are still saying this, in many cases they're funded by the fossil fuel industry.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the prize with Al Gore came out with a report in March of this year. This is 2,500 of the world's leading scientists, several hundred reviewers who synthesized all the known science out there. And here is what they said.

Temperature rise predicted between 3.25 and 7 degree Fahrenheit, sea level rise between 7 inches and 2 feet, just about. And now 90 percent certainty that global warming is caused by human beings.

So there really isn't a scientific debate anymore on this, Heidi. This is about what to do about it. And that's where politics enters into this.

From the December 10 edition of CNN's American Morning:

DE LA CRUZ: Well, Al Gore will pick up his Nobel Peace Prize today. Gore will receive his award at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, in the next hour. But like Jerry Lewis in France and David Hasselhoff in Germany, Al Gore seems to be more popular in Europe than he is here in the United States. Our Miles O'Brien joins us now from Oslo to try to explain why that is. Good morning to you, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Good morning, Veronica. I'm live at Oslo City Hall. It's right behind me there. In a little than an hour, Al Gore and the group of scientists which is responsible for studying climate change will accept the Nobel Peace Prize. It's interesting the peace prize is --

[begin video clip]

O'BRIEN: It's a long way from Oslo to Peoria, and Al Gore is sure playing better over there --

OLE DANBOLT MJOS (Nobel committee chairman): One of the world's leading environmentalist politicians.

O'BRIEN: -- than he is here.

HORNER: Al Gore is the embodiment of wretched excess.

O'BRIEN: That's global-warming skeptic Chris Horner. He is no fan of Gore, that's for sure.

HORNER: He clearly is more popular there than here. But as you open, so is Jerry Lewis.

LEWIS (portraying the Nutty Professor): I do have some very essential matters that I must take care of.

O'BRIEN: Jerry Lewis? Could Al Gore share something in common with the Nutty Professor, loved mostly overseas? Well, it all comes down to politics. And many Americans view the Nobel Prize through a political prism, so says CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: There are a lot of sophisticated Americans, and certainly, a lot of people in Washington understand that there's a lot of politics in the Nobel Prize, particularly the Nobel Peace Prize.

O'BRIEN: In Europe, not so much.

KELLNER: Now, I can't think of an occasion where anybody has said that the Nobel committee's up to no good.

O'BRIEN: British pollster Peter Kellner also says Europeans are less likely to question science and scientists, and 90 percent of Europeans believe global warming is a clear and present danger. Americans are split down the middle. Oh, and speaking of that, there's one more factor to throw into the mix.

HORNER: It's those Northern Europeans doing what Northern European politicians want to do, and that is engage in anti-Bush symbolism.

O'BRIEN: Bush's approval rating in Europe, about 12 to 15 percent. Al Gore may be the Nutty Professor, but whichever side of the ocean he is on, he is still faring better than the man who beat him seven years ago.

[end video clip]

O'BRIEN: Back live now in Oslo, there was a kids' concert here just a little while ago. Here are some of the kids. They're having a good time here. Day off from school here on Nobel Prize day. Take a look at -- give me a little space here.

Take a look at some of the newspapers here. Of course, it's all Norwegian to me, but this is a story -- the only mildly critical story here says that Al Gore has just made a lot of money off of An Inconvenient Truth. Here's a whole piece about the security detail for the prince and princess getting some extra money.

This is a story about the Norwegian prime minister giving a lot of money for rainforest support. And then inside the paper, there's a huge excerpt of The Inconvenient Truth [sic], the book version. Check out this. Clearly, Al Gore, Veronica, has a receptive crowd here in Norway as he prepares to receive that Nobel Peace Prize. Veronica?

DE LA CRUZ: Clearly. It looks like you are having lots of fun as well. Miles O'Brien there in Oslo, Norway. Thanks.

From the 9 a.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom on December 10 :

COLLINS: So what do Al Gore and Jerry Lewis have in common?

Miles O'Brien makes the connection live from Oslo and the Nobel ceremonies.

[...]

COLLINS: Cancer on your radar. We'll tell you the story in just a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, Al Gore on the world stage this morning. He accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo about an hour ago.

And our Miles O'Brien is in Norway, where he discovered the former vice president has something in common with comedian Jerry Lewis.

[...]

COLLINS: Miles O'Brien joining us now from the streets of Oslo, Norway. Miles, nice to see you.

So, what's the deal? I mean, is it really fair to say that Europeans are that much more concerned about global warming than Americans?

O'BRIEN: I think so, Heidi. I mean, I think what you have in the United States is kind of a perfect storm. You have, especially in conservative circles, a lot of skepticism about the scientific process and science.

It's viewed as almost a political arm of the liberal side of things, whereas here in Europe, they see scientists as something from the ivory tower, something very different. Couple that with the fact that in the U.S., the oil and gas industry was -- has been successful over the years in muddying the waters on the science and, of course, you've got a former oil man in the Oval Office.

All that kind of a perfect storm in the U.S., whereas here, none of those factors were in play. And as a result, there's -- Al Gore really, as he's here, is preaching to the choir.

COLLINS: Yeah, preaching to a choir who really wants to see him as much as possible. In fact, we've heard rock-star status.

What have you seen and heard about his reception there?

O'BRIEN: I haven't heard a single person offer a critical word of Al Gore. That's a far cry from what you'd get on the streets of New York City or Atlanta.

Take a look at these papers, for example.

This is what passes muster for criticism today in the newspapers. They're talking about Al Gore there making a lot of money off An Inconvenient Truth.

Most of the coverage is like this. This is just a huge excerpt inside this newspaper of the book version of An Inconvenient Truth. Here's how it goes. And, of course, the ubiquitous polar bear on the melting iceberg there.

So, the kind of coverage he's getting here, I'd put it in the fawning category. As I say, he's preaching to the choir, and he is the man of the moment. This city has embraced him in every way.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Miles O'Brien reporting live for us this morning from Oslo, Norway. Thank you, Miles.

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