Al Gore and the Internet

Written: 22 August, 2000

I was looking through some of my back issues of Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report (looking for a particular article to refute one of the Clinton-haters on a message board) when I happened upon an issue of Time magazine dated April 12, 1993, which has a cover story on "The Info Highway." I decided to see what they had to say about the Internet back in 1993. Surprise, surprise, check out what it says:

""Make no mistake about it," says Vice President Al Gore, who was talking about information highways long before they were fashionable. "This is by all odds the most important and lucrative marketplace of the 21st century." If Gore is right, the new technology will force the merger of television, telecommunications, computers, consumer electronics, publishing and information services into a single interactive information industry. Apple Computer chairman John Sculley estimates that the revenue generated by this megaindustry could reach $3.5 trillion worldwide by the year 2001. (The entire U.S gross national product today is about $5.9 trillion.)

"During the 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton and Gore made building a "data superhighway" a centerpiece of their program to revitalize the U.S. economy, comparing it with the government's role in creating the interstate highway system in the 1950s. The budget proposal the Administration submitted in February includes nearly $5 billion over the next four years to develop new software and equipment for the information highway."


"The government is the dark horse in the race to the information highway. It got into the business almost by accident: thanks to Gore's lobbying during the 1980s, it funded the fiber-optic links that form the backbone of Internet, the sprawling computer grid that is for students, scientists, and the Pentagon what Prodigy and CompuServe are for ordinary computer users. Today Internet has grown into the world's largest computer bulletin board and data bank, home to 10 million to 15 million networkers who use it for many of the purposes the information highway might serve: sending and receiving mail, sharing gossip and research results, searching for information in hard-to-reach libraries, playing games with opponents in other cities, even exchanging digitized sounds, photographs and movie clips.

"During the 1992 campaign, Clinton and Gore repeated the information-highway metaphor so often that many voters -- and industry leaders -- were left with the impression that the government actually planned to build it, to use taxpayer dollars to construct a data freeway that anybody could ride. But the spending proposals released after the election make it clear that the Administration's goals are more modest. Of the $5 billion requested for the next four years, nearly $3 billion would be spent building supercomputers. Most of the rest would be set aside for developing techniques for transmitting different kinds of data over the networks -- such as CAT scans and engineering blueprints -- and on pilot projects to give schools, hospitals, libraries, and other nonprofit institutions access to Internet.

"The government is more likely to play a critical role in cutting through the thicket of state and federal regulations that have grown up over the years to keep the local telephone and cable-TV monopolies out of each other's business. White House officials say they want to give the private sector incentives to invest in the data highways. At the same time, however, they insist on preserving features of the current system that voters value, such as universal access to afordable phone and television service and protection against price gouging."


"The computer users, and some enthusiasts within the Clinton Administration, tend to see the information highway as a glorified extension of computer bulletin boards. Vice President Gore talks about making it possible for a schoolchild in Arkansas to have access to a book stored on a computer in the Library of Congress or take a course at a distant college."

OK, let's compare this to the statement that got Al Gore in some trouble in 1999, and which someone on one of the online boards I visit included among a list of supposed "lies" by Gore:

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Compare that to the above Time magazine, from 1993:

"(T)hanks to Gore's lobbying during the 1980s, it [the government] funded the fiber-optic links that form the backbone of Internet..."

So, should Gore have said instead, "During my service in the United States Congress, I pushed for government funding of the fiber-optic links that form the backbone of Internet" ??

Would the above statement meet with approval? Isn't it basically a longer version of what he did say?

Why is what Gore said a "lie"?