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August 24, 2004
Kelly: Blogosphere Triumphs Over Traditional Media

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Jack Kelly reviews the devastating effect that the Swiftvets have had on John Kerry and his campaign during the short time that they've advertised their claims im his new column for Jewish World Review (which has an abundance of terrific commentary -- a great site). Kelly focuses on the Swiftvet victory on the Cambodian Christmas story which is now widely discredited:

When John Kerry went postal last week, the major media's preferred strategy for dealing with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to ignore them went down the toilet.

Kerry melted down because the Swifties' exposure of Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia" fantasy has struck a nerve, and is gaining traction, despite the major media's refusal to report on it.

Kerry has claimed on dozens of occasions most notably in a speech on the Senate floor in 1986 to have spent Christmas eve, 1968, five miles inside of Cambodia on a mission in violation of international law. Kerry claimed that incident was "seared" into his memory, and was the catalyst that turned him against the Vietnam war.

The Swifties have provided evidence that Kerry spent Christmas eve in Sa Dec, 55 miles from Cambodia. None of the sailors who served with Kerry on the two swift boats he commanded, PCF-44 and PCF-94, have supported his claim, though Mike Medeiros, a crewmate on PCF-94, said they may have strayed into Cambodian waters inadvertently.

John Hurley, speaking with Chris Wallace yesterday, tried his best to salvage the Cambodian part of the myth and claimed that a crew member would come forward in the next couple of days to substantiate cross-border missions by PCF-94. Inadvertently straying into Cambodia doesn't cut it -- the entire point of Kerry's Christmas fable was his embittered conversion to the anti-war point of view because he was ordered to break the law by a President who denied Kerry and other Americans were in Cambodia. Without orders, Kerry's embitterment narrative loses all credibility -- and his re-enactment on film of later exploits calls it into question anyway.

If he was so embittered about the war by 28 February, why go back on 1 March with the home movie camera and recreate the exploits for posterity?

Kelly continues with another PCF officer who refrained from joining the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but who emphatically agrees that Cambodian missions would have been well-nigh impossible for the swifties:

But this was impossible, according to Doug Regelin, a swift boat commander in 1969, but who is not a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. PCF-94 was part of Coastal Division 11, which was stationed at An Thoi.

"There is no way to enter Cambodia from the An Thoi patrol area," Regelin wrote in the Augusta (GA) Free Press. "That patrol area started at the coastal fishing village of Ha Tien and ran parallel to the Cambodian border, but there was no way into Cambodia. Any good map will show this to be true."

Kelly also reviews the mainstream media reaction and finds it lacking in the extreme. Kelly, a former Marine, Green Beret and deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force, bundles the counterattack on the Swiftvets by both the Kerry campaign and traditional news outlets by the New York Times as "Plan B: Blow smoke".

Fortunately, as Kelly notes, the blogosphere has stepped forward to provide the missing pieces to the American electorate despite the advocacy of the media for John Kerry. Kelly singles out some recognizable names:

It's a triumph also for the blogosphere, which reported on a story the major media were trying to bury. Congratulations to Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), Ed Morrissey (Captains Quarters), John Hindraker, and Scott Johnson (Power Line), Hugh Hewitt and many others for doing the job "mainstream" journalists are supposed to do, but wouldn't.

I appreciate both Kelly's acknowledgement and the opportunity to be counted among some outstanding bloggers and truly excellent people, all of which have contributed greatly to whatever success Captain's Quarters has enjoyed. More to Kelly's point, however, we have filled a niche that the media refused to address, and in doing so they enabled the blogosphere to seize credibility and stature that did not exist earlier. Bloggers have made an impact on the most visible of political processes, not just in the way they are reported, but in the conduct of the campaigns themselves. Having ceded that credibility, the mainstream media may find it difficult to regain it.

UPDATE: Scott Johnson at Power Line has also posted on this and credited Binyamin from JWR for the tipoff to the column:

Binyamin adds that JWR often runs Kelly's column before Kelly's paper (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Thanks both to Binyamin and to Kelly.

I also got the tip from Binyamin, although I refrained from mentioning it. From time to time, I've received tips from mainstream media sources, and they mostly wish to remain anonymous. I had a nice e-mail chat with Binyamin this morning, and I should have asked him. So, thanks again, Binyamin, and my apologies for the lack of credit.

In describing my discretion about such sources yesterday to a friend, I said that it was somewhat akin to the scene from Blazing Saddles, where Cleavon Little tells Gene Wilder that the townspeople will eventually come around, after he took care of Mongo. On cue, a little old lady who insulted him earlier brings Little a pie and apologizes for her earlier rudeness. After Little gloats a little bit, she comes back and says, "Of course, you'll have the good taste not to mention I was here..."

And as you all know, I always err on the side of good taste!

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 24, 2004 5:15 AM

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