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August 10, 2004
Media Nibbling At The Edges Of The Swiftvet Story

There are finally some indications that the mainstream media may take a closer look at the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign on John Kerry's war record -- the main qualification that the Democrats have put forward for his candidacy. Last night, Nightline covered the story, although as Instapundit reports, not so much to cover the allegations as to cover the Swiftvets instead. Now John O'Sullivan takes up the cause in today's Chicago Sun-Times, and he's not Koppeling things over:

When Sen. John Kerry saluted and announced that he was "reporting for duty" at last month's Democratic Convention, he made his military record a legitimate subject of political attack and journalistic investigation. That moment was the culmination of the powerful "Vietnam theme" that has distinguished the Kerry presidential campaign from almost all recent Democratic campaigns.

He had turned around a failing primary season in Iowa with the filmed testimony of the sailor whose life he saved when he pulled him back into the swift boat in which they served. He had taken former swift boat veterans along with him on the campaign trail. And in Boston he filled the podium with these veterans and retired senior military officers to hammer home the message that the Democrats under John Kerry are safe on security. Kerry has done everything possible to reassure the voters -- and thereby to neutralize a long-standing Republican advantage -- on national security. ...

For some years many Vietnam veterans had quietly seethed at Kerry for profiting politically from his attacks on their service. Now that Kerry was in the running to become president -- while maintaining his accusations, however half-heartedly -- they were provoked into responding.

As O'Sullivan notes, the Democrats opened themselves up to this attack by recklessly tossing around allegations of desertion and cover-ups at the President during the early primary campaign:

These allegations are both more serious and better supported by evidence than, for instance, the claim that George W. Bush shirked his duty in the National Guard. They are exactly the kind of charges that would set off a firestorm of controversy in normal circumstances. Yet a strange nervous silence, broken only by a handful of stories and commentaries, has settled over the story.

And what of the media? O'Sullivan wants to know why they have not covered this story in any fashion similar to the way the press went after Bush about supposedly being AWOL from his National Guard duty:

As the recent Pew poll demonstrated, there really is liberal media bias. Only 7 percent of the national press describe themselves as conservative. Establishment journalists would almost certainly prefer the swift boat allegations simply go away. But the matter is not that simple. To begin with, the press has an obligation to follow its own rules. A major story needs two sources to justify publication. These stories have more than 250 sources; they are retired senior officers; and they are not skulking in the shadows but putting their names and reputations behind the allegations.

Read all of O'Sullivan's remarks. They aren't as interesting for their content as they are for their very existence on the pages of a major daily. The mainstream media will need to decide whether they think John Kerry is a worthy shoal on which to beach their illusions of fairness and nonpartisanship, because that myth has just about run its course. Even their own outlets openly scoff at their threadbare attempts to convince people of their fairness, and the treatment of the Swiftvets compared to that of the foaming-at-the-mouth rhetoric of Terry McAuliffe and Michael Moore confirms its collapse.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 10, 2004 10:42 AM

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