Al Gore and Tom Friedman think we're paying attention to the wrong things. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine:
Gore is right to fault celebrity news for blotting out coverage of climate change, health care, immigration, and international relations in such policy journals as People, Star, In Touch, and US Weekly and on such public-affairs programs as Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, and E! News. But a more generous definition of the press—one that includes daily newspapers, weekly magazines, general-interest TV news, and the Web—would find Gore's argument lacking. By my back-of-the envelope estimate, your average big-city daily carries more news about immigration (or other significant issue du jour) in one day than it does about every celebrity on the planet in a full week.
In condemning Britney-obsessed reporters and readers, Gore takes the easy route. If he possessed any real courage in his conviction that news coverage of the frivolous blocks the discussion of serious "issues," he'd attack sports coverage. Sports capture a billion times the attention that celebrities do and probably swallow 20 percent of the news budget of dailies. The reason Gore gives sports coverage a bye while castigating Britney coverage is simple: Sports fans talk back—loudly—and folks who crave entertainment-news coverage are too embarrassed to defend their innocent diversion.