Memo to Politico: Al Gore never claimed he "invented the Internet"

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

Politico's Ben Smith and Craig Gordon repeated the falsehood that Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet, writing, "Al Gore took a lot of grief for saying he invented the Internet, but Google's Vinton Cerf can come as close as anyone alive to making that boast with a straight face." In fact, Gore did not claim that he "invented the Internet." Rather, in a 1999 interview on CNN, Gore said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

In a December 5 article, Politico senior political writer Ben Smith and White House editor Craig Gordon repeated the long-debunked falsehood that former Vice President Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet. Discussing President-elect Barack Obama's possible choices for "Chief Technology Officer" in his administration, Gordon and Smith wrote: "Al Gore took a lot of grief for saying he invented the Internet, but Google's Vinton Cerf can come as close as anyone alive to making that boast with a straight face. And he might be in line for this job." As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, Gore did not claim that he "invented the Internet." Rather, during the March 9, 1999, interview on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer that gave rise to the myth, Gore said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." Indeed, Wolf Blitzer set the record straight on the July 6 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, stating that Gore "never said, 'I invented the Internet.' "

Cerf himself has previously defended the accuracy of Gore's statement that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet." In an article from September 2000, which was published on the Politech website, Cerf and Robert Kahn wrote

Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening.

Cerf and Kahn also wrote: "Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development. ... No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time."

As Media Matters documented, Politico reporter Ken Vogel also asserted in May that "some say" Gore claimed "that he invented the internet."

From Smith and Gordon's December 5 Politico article:

Chief Technology Officer

The list: Vinton Cerf, Google's "chief Internet evangelist;" Julius Genachowski, a former FCC counsel who helped set up Obama's campaign, and Symantec chief John W. Thompson.

Al Gore took a lot of grief for saying he invented the Internet, but Google's Vinton Cerf can come as close as anyone alive to making that boast with a straight face. And he might be in line for this job.

Posted In
Environment & Science
Network/Outlet
The Politico
Person
Ben Smith, Craig Gordon
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.