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April 26, 2004
A Whiff of Desperation at the Gray Lady

John Kerry's fumble on his medal-tossing incident has produced an aroma of desperation from the New York Times this morning, where an article titled "1971 Tape Adds to Debate Over Kerry's Medal Protest" broadens out inexplicably to cover a range of what reporters Jim Rutenberg and James Dao must feel are Kerry-friendly topics. First, Rutenberg and Dao hedge on calling Kerry a liar, even though their own reporting makes it clear that Kerry lied about the medals:

The Kerry campaign Web site says it is "right-wing fiction" that he "threw away his medals during a Vietnam War protest." Rather, the Web site says, "John Kerry threw away his ribbons and the medals of two veterans who could not attend the event."

But the issue is not so cut and dried. A television interview Mr. Kerry gave in November 1971 shows that Mr. Kerry himself fed the confusion from early on. ... When the interviewer asked, "How many did you give back, John?" he answered, "I gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine."

When the interviewer pointed out that Mr. Kerry had won the Bronze and Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts, Mr. Kerry added, "Well, and above that, I gave back my others."

Actually, the issue is cut and dried; Kerry flat-out lied about this incident being the product of a right-wing smear campaign, as he puts it on his website, and he may or may not have lied in 1971 about the medals being his. After Rutenberg and Dao nicely confirm Kerry's attempt to falsely generate paranoia about Vast Right-Wing Conspiracies, a la Hillary Clinton, they note that Kerry lied about it as late as last Friday (as did the original ABC News report that Drudge broke) in an interview with the Los Angeles Times:

In The Los Angeles Times article, Mr. Kerry was quoted as saying that he never meant to imply that the two medals he had discarded belonged to him. He said they belonged to two men who could not attend the ceremony.

"I never ever implied that I did it," Mr. Kerry is quoted as saying[.]

You can't even argue that Kerry either lied then or lied now, because it's patently obvious he's lying now about the issue being generated by a right-wing cabal. Kerry tossed someone's medals over the White House fence, and in 1971 explicitly stated that they were his own. To blame the "confusion" over their ownership on the Republicans is like, oh, I don't know ... calling your Secret Service protector an SOB and blaming him for knocking you down while snowboarding?

Rutenberg and Dao then inexplicably shift the article to Kerry's attacks on the Bush administration's policies on photographing returning caskets of American servicemen, as if this were just a political diary. Instead, it reads as an attempt to polish Kerry's image a bit by tarnishing Bush. Rutenberg and Dao reviewed the 1971 interview by Kerry that has been stored in the National Archives ever since Nixon demanded a copy of it. What else was said during the interview? Apparently Rutenberg and Dao don't want us to know, which is why they finish their article with a completely unrelated issue.

Do you get the feeling that the folks at the New York Times see this election slipping away from them?

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! I listened to a small bit of Kerry's interview on ABC this morning, and I detected more than a whiff of desperation in his attitude too. Even Charlie Gibson wasn't buying Kerry's explanation, and if Kerry loses ABC, things are definitely going downhill. More on that in this CNS News piece. Here's the description, with a startling observation by Gibson:

In a somewhat heated interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday, Kerry insisted, "I stood up in front of my nation and took the ribbons off my chest" -- in front of TV cameras, he noted -- and then threw those ribbons over a fence.

"I never asserted otherwise," Kerry said on Monday -- moments after ABC played part of the 1971 intervew in which Kerry indicated he threw his medals over a fence. ...

"Good Morning America" anchor Charlie Gibson said he was there 33 years ago when Kerry threw medals over the fence. "I saw you throw medals over the fence, and we didn't find out until later (interrupted) that those were someone else's medals," Gibson said.

Kerry, not listening to the end of Gibson's statement, said, "Charlie, Charlie, you're wrong. That is not what happened. I threw my ribbons across. And all you have to do..." [Gibson tried to clarify that Kerry threw someone else's medals over the fence, but Kerry would not give him an opportunity.]

Kerry eventually clarified that he did throw two medals (not his) over the fence at the request of two veterans.

But he claimed in 1971 to have thrown his own medals over the fence. How many times will this story change? Look, the issue isn't whether he protested the war; we know he did, and you can decide whether that's germane 33 years later. But what this issue is about is Kerry's honesty -- he's lying about the medals now, and he likely lied about them in 1971 in order to make himself more credible to the radical-left crowd he represented back then. And instead of simply saying something along the lines of, "I must have been mistaken," he blames Republicans for catching him in a lie. It's the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy all over again.

I crossposted this at Oh, That Liberal Media.

UPDATE II: Here's the full transcript, courtesy Instapundit.

UPDATE III: Here's what you missed at the end of the interview, but which ABC apparently ran on later broadcasts:

"God, they're doing the work of the Republican National Committee!"

-- Sen John Kerry, ripping off the microphone after his interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America, after being grilled about his shifting 'Medal Throwing' stories

As I commented on Silent Running's blog, Kerry seems to have switch his campaign motto from "Bring It On!" to "Make It Stop!"

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 26, 2004 6:29 AM

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