Vilify. Then verify.
That has become the raison d'etre for the media. Cheap, easy journalism that is downright formulaic:
Step 1: Pray for a notable celebrity to have an allegation lobbed against them. The tawdrier, the better.
Step 2: Ignore whether the accuser is even remotely credible.
Step 3: Create the most provocative, accusatory article imaginable. Insinuate guilt.
Step 4: Use the accuser's quote in the headline, so when you call them "a pervert, and a sexual predator" in 100-point font next to a full-page picture of their face, you can pretend you were merely repeating what you heard.
Step 5: Slide in the word "allegedly" somewhere in paragraph seven to cover your ass, long after your audience has stopped reading.
Step 6: Once the public tires of hearing about them and their reputation is thoroughly trashed, rinse and repeat with the next unsuspecting victim.
Duke Lacrosse Rape Scandal, Round 2?
The press consistently lends its credibility to people who clearly don't deserve it.
It is the symbiotic relationship between an organism that benefits from scandal and an organism in pursuit of fame or money at all costs.
Who knew that two parasites could survive off of each other?
How quickly we forget cases like the infamous Duke Lacrosse rape scandal, where Al Sharpton told the press that the woman (now proven to have fabricated the charges) "was the victim of a racially motivated hate crime." His Rainbow Coalition even said it would pay for the remainder of her college tuition.
I wonder if she can still go to college with her house arrest ankle bracelet on?
Sharpton was far from alone, though, in attempting to seize the publicity opportunity. Mike Nifong, the then-district attorney prosecuting the case (in both the courtroom and the press) called the players "hooligans," while ignoring offers by the students to take polygraph tests, and even the results of DNA testing.
All before the trial began.
Rather than taking the time to find out the truth, the press jumped at the chance to publish the shocking headline of rich white kids raping a poor black stripper.
Ultimately, all her claims were proven to have been false, and Nifong was disbarred from practicing law for a litany of ethics violations surrounding the case.
The only problem is that the damage was already done. Three innocent kids had their mug shots plastered on every major magazine in America with headlines screaming rape.
The Only Court That Matters (Is That of Public Opinion)
Now Al Gore, a man who has done more for raising environmental awareness than perhaps anyone in the world, finds himself staring down the same bright light of accusations, with headlines calling him a "crazed sex poodle."
The alleged event happened four years ago, and the woman declined to seek prosecution at the time. Now, four years later she is widely reported to have been shopping the rights to tell her story for one million dollars.
In a bizarre twist, she kept her pants from that night in a bank safe deposit box for the last four years.
While none of this proves innocence or guilt, it does raise the question of her motives. At the very least, it should sound a warning bell and cause the press to tread carefully until the facts are known.
The Pursuit of Truth (Only When Convenient or Profitable)
I have had the pleasure of meeting Al Gore several times, as we both attend the outstanding TED Conference every year in Long Beach, Calif.
I have seen firsthand the tremendous and genuine passion he has for the environment. I have watched him contribute a significant portion of his time, energy, and wealth to help the greater good.
Unfortunately, the most inconvenient truth of them all is that his innocence or guilt doesn't matter.
By the time any trial plays out, the damage will already have been done.