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August 15, 2004
Media Blackout On Cambodian Christmas Begins To Lift

The utter media blackout on John Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia myth appears to be lifting, and in one of the least predictable markets. Scott Canon writes a Knight-Ridder wire article that at least covers the outlines of the story, and the Seattle Times -- serving one of the most liberal areas of the country -- becomes the second major newspaper to cover it as a news story (via NZ Bear):

John Kerry's repeated claim that he spent Christmas Eve of 1968 upriver in Cambodia against official United States policy has drawn harsh criticism from anti-Kerry veterans.

Roy Hoffmann, a retired admiral who was a Navy captain in command of Kerry's unit at the time, said the candidate's Cambodia statements can't be true.

"I think he just outright lied," said Hoffman, a founder of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. "He never was there."

Most of this will be rather superficial rehash for those of you who have been following this story on blogs such as mine and Power Line. It does manage to include Big Trunk and Rocket Man's favorite part of the story, John Kerry's Magic Hat:

The Kerry campaign has since said that the presidential candidate's recollection was imprecise that his runs into Cambodia came in the early months of 1969. A June 2003 article in The Washington Post quotes Kerry talking about a mildewy and faded-green camouflage hat he carries in his black attach.

"My good-luck hat," Kerry told the Post. "Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia."

Absent from Canon's report are Kerry crewmate Stephen Gardner's statements that not only did his boat (PCF-44) never go into Cambodia, but you could hardly pick a worse vessel for covert incursions anyway. The Swift boats were not stealthy by any means -- they were powerful and fast, speed being their only intrinsic defense, and they were loud. Gardner indicated that they could be heard for miles. Also missing is any explanation why a boat assigned to a Coastal division with a junior officer with less than three months experience would be given cross-border covert missions which would have been delicate, to say the least, considering the loud protests made by Cambodian Prince Sihanouk that the US was violating its neutrality. Wouldn't that assignment gone to a River division, using more appropriate watercraft, and probably just been done by the SEALs themselves?

Canon also picks up on Michael Meehan's tortured explanation of Vietnamese/Cambodian geography from the London Telegraph without the Telegraph's well-explained cynicism of it:

"Swift Boat crews regularly operated along the Cambodian border from Ha Tien on the Gulf of Thailand to the rivers of the Mekong south and west of Saigon," Michael Meehan, a senior adviser in the Kerry campaign, said Friday. "Boats often received fire from enemy taking sanctuary across the border. Kerry's was not the only United States riverboat to respond, inadvertently or responsibly, across the border."

"Many times he was on or near the Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia at the request of members of a special operations group operating out of Ha Tien" on the Gulf of Thailand, Meehan said in his statement.

Hoffmann, the retired admiral, said he was leery of Kerry's claim to have ventured into Cambodia in early 1969 to deliver CIA operatives or special-forces soldiers.

"I was always properly informed. The whole time I was there, I don't recall" such a mission, Hoffmann said.

It's hardly a comprehensive look at the data, and the article shows just how far behind the blogosphere and the British that the American media has fallen. Nowhere is it mentioned, for instance, how Kerry used this anecdote as a motivation for his public life and his embitterment with a corrupt government. However, it's a start, and perhaps now that the taboo has been broken, more intrepid and talented reporters can start really digging into the mythology.

Addendum: If you think that there is no media blackout, let's all take a trip in New England Republican's Wayback machine and see how the media handled the AWOL charges against George Bush, when Bush hadn't even made his TANG service an issue in his candidacy. Just a bit of a difference in tone and style, don't you think?

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 15, 2004 11:14 AM

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» The Post-Gazette Breaks Through The Swift Boat Vets Stonewall from Daly Thoughts and Dales' Electoral College Breakdown 2004
Jack Kelly: Not so swift. The Powerline and Captain's Quarters can now add the Post-Gazette to the still small but growing number of papers that actually are touching this story. [Read More]

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» The National Media Blinks coverage beginning to seep through ....Kerry's Cambodia account challenged by ex-commander from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill
VICTORY! Thanks to all of those terrific bloggers like Instapundit, Captains Quarters, Powerline, Just One Minute, Roger Simon and countless others the mainstream media is being forced to cover this story. Here is the Seattle Times giving credibility t... [Read More]

Tracked on August 15, 2004 12:28 PM

» Good News and Bad News on Christmas in Cambodia Coverage from Patterico's Pontifications
The good news is that Big Media is starting to notice the Christmas in Cambodia falsehood. The bad news is that Big Media doesn't seem to understand why it can't be an innocent mistake. (More at Power Line, Captain's Quarters,... [Read More]

Tracked on August 15, 2004 1:13 PM

» Be Wary of the Magic Hat from Kerry Haters
Forget about the Magic Hat! It's funny and it's a prop that conjures up a goofy mental image of Kerry cadging the hat, but it's a distraction. As Roger L. Simon would say, a Chapter 3 clue. [Read More]

Tracked on August 15, 2004 3:01 PM



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