Al Gore never claimed to have “invented the internet.” That was a lie, invented by Karl Rove and repeated by a credulous press corps with a personal disdain for Gore. What Newt Gingrich (!) claimed on Gore’s behalf was having figured out the importance of computer-to-computer communications very early and pushing successfully for the legislative actions that transformed the ARPAnet into the internet. Still, that charge helped cost Gore the election.
So if you’re Rick Davis, you really, really, really didn’t want to see this lead on an AP story:
Move over, Al Gore. You may lay claim to the Internet, but John McCain helped create the BlackBerry.
I don’t know whether McCain can, in fact, claim any credit for changes in telecoms policy that facilitated the development of handhelds. (If so, he can also take the blame for the fact that we’re a generation behind our competitors in both cellphone technology and broadband-to-the-home.) And I doubt that this will hurt McCain as much as the internet claim hurt Gore. But it doesn’t help. More important, it shows that the press corps — even AP — is in no mood to cut McCain any slack.
The Obama campaign’s response was pitch-perfect:
If John McCain hadn’t said that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” on the day of one of our nation’s worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week.