Former Vice President Al Gore spoke Thursday at a communications and society seminar at the Aspen Institute (FOCAS).

He primarily addressed the subject of how citizens can exercise their democratic duties in the networked world, although he also gave a long overview of media and communications history. Gore spoke off-the-cuff for about an hour and then took questions from the seminar attendees.

During the discussion, Gore addressed the issue of what happens when citizens are fed information that is meant to derail rational debate on complex issues. And he had high praise for the book, “Merchants of Doubt”.

Aspen Journalism produced a news story on Gore’s remarks for KDNK, Carbondale Community Access Radio. The story first aired on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 4.

The intro for the piece was as follows: “Former Vice President Al Gore has been in Aspen this week attending a forum on world poverty at the Aspen Institute. This morning, he dropped by a communications and media seminar called “Networks and Citizenship,” and he expressed outrage at the way the issue of climate change has been manipulated. Brent Gardner-Smith has more.”

Here’s the audio of the KDNK news story:

UPDATE: Given that the story about Gore calling “bullshit” has begun to spread, we thought there might be interest in the essence of Gore’s remarks, aka, the “bullshit quote.” It’s at the top of this post.

We’ve also posted Gore’s complete remarks at the Aspen Institute.

These remarks were recorded in the Doerr-Hosier Center, where the event took place, through the center’s sound board.

And we’ve also edited Gore’s remarks down to what we consider the highlights. These are below with notes.

:03 On the lack of online business models that can support investigative reporting

:56 On Tahir Square being more literal and metaphorical, including emergence of new consciousness

4:44 Does not buy that the Internet is inherently polarizing

6:36 On assumptions regarding free markets

7:23 On the workings of the brain and distraction

8:39 Our culture is based on distraction

9:00 On dominance of money in campaigns

9:37 Fools errand to try and change campaign finance laws, but Internet can help

10:19 Need for public square

11:14 Has to be a neutral place to share common information

12:23 On effort to pin 9/11 on Saddam Hussein

14:18 Recent debt debate also influenced by propaganda

15:19 On creating a shared reality online

16:18 Problem-solving requires “a single reality”

17:11 Reason can triumph over wealth and power, but in the TV age, wealth and power triumph

18:37 On the importance of New York and D.C. to PR efforts

19:39 How the debt ceiling debate was influenced by TV ads

20:19 Shared reality helped make the U.S. great, now we’re making bad decisions without it

21:05 Tobacco interests fighting back on TV in the ’60s

21:47 On “The Merchants of Doubt” and tobacco regulation

22:46 On the use of propaganda in the climate debate. (The “bullshit” cut)

23:36 No longer acceptable to even use the word “climate”

Brent Gardner-Smith

Brent Gardner-Smith, the founder of Aspen Journalism, and who served as AJ’s executive director until August 2021 and as editor from 2011-2020, is the news director at Aspen Public Radio. He's also been...