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August 19, 2004
Gray Lady Hides Kerry Behind Her Skirts

The expected broadside to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth came this evening, as the New York Times advances the campaign strategy John Kerry launched this afternoon -- ad hominem attacks and screeching about funding sources while paying little factual attention to the well-documented allegations from the Swiftvets. Trying to paint the 250 decorated Viet Nam vets as stooges for eeeeevil Republican-machine leaders, the Paper of Record manages to counter a story it ignored with copious silence over the past two weeks:

Mr. Kerry called them "a front for the Bush campaign" - a charge the campaign denied. A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove.

Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.

So they received about $200,000 dollars from Republican Bob J. Perry a few weeks after forming a 527 with the explicit mission to reveal John Kerry's lies about Viet Nam and his service? Well, isn't that shocking? Did anyone labor under the impression that the Swiftvets would get their money from billionaire George Soros? Oh, wait, sorry ... Soros' money is tied up in activist groups like Americans Coming Together and dedicated to unseating George Bush -- to the tune of at least 25 times that amount.

I assume the big expose' of MoveOn as a dirty-tricks front for the Democrats will be forthcoming from the New York Times. I'll start looking tomorrow.

Unfortunately, half of the article is dedicated to the list of influential people SBVT founder John O'Neill knows through his law practice in Houston the way the Old Testament documents its geneology: O'Neill represented Falcon Seaboard, and so he knows David Dewhurst, who was (cue heavy music) "a central player" in the Texas redistricting plan. O'Neill's practice also brought him into relationships with Perry and Harlan Crow, who donated money to his cause. And because Perry was active in Texas politics, you know who he knows? Karl Rove, the eeeeeevil genius behind eeeeeevil Republicanism.

If you can sit through this litany of begats and connected-tos that lead to no conclusion whatsoever, the Times then begins to use memes that had been discarded before they wrote the article to cast doubt on the Swiftvets' credibility -- amazingly, without bothering to provide any resources to actually investigating their claims:

Mr. Elliott, who was in charge of the process of awarding medals in Vietnam, had signed one affidavit saying Mr. Kerry "was not forthright" in the statements that had led to his Silver Star. Two weeks ago, he told The Boston Globe that in retrospect he felt he should not have signed the affidavit. He then signed a second affidavit that reaffirmed his first, which the Swift Boat Veterans gave to reporters. Mr. Elliott has refused to speak publicly since then.

Elliot has repeatedly stated that his remarks were taken out of context, and that he told the Globe that he only regretted one small part of the affadavit regarding an event that he personally had not observed. Compare that to the martyr treatment that the Times gives Patrick Runyon for the same exact thing for which they hang Elliot:

Patrick Runyon, who served on a mission with Mr. Kerry, said he initially thought the caller was from a pro-Kerry group, and happily gave a statement about the night Mr. Kerry won his first Purple Heart. The investigator said he would send it to him by e-mail for his signature. Mr. Runyon said the edited version was stripped of all references to enemy combat, making it look like just another night in the Mekong Delta.

"It made it sound like I didn't believe we got any returned fire," he said. "He made it sound like it was a normal operation. It was the scariest night of my life."

I'm willing to accept Runyon's clarification, but it's worth noting that his recollection conflicts with Kerry's own journals, which clearly state at 11 December 1968 that he had not yet been shot at.

The Times also reviews the Letson testimony, if only to note that he disputes the record and says his only evidence is his own word. They cover the Bronze Star story in more detail, using today's Washington Post story regarding Larry Thurlow's Bronze Star citation as an impeachment against his testimony. However, Thurlow has repeatedly stated that he never put himself in for a medal, and that the only report that mentioned incoming enemy fire was Kerry's.

Curiously, the story that the Times has yet to cover for its readers is put last on the list: the Cambodian Christmas myth. After impugning the credibility of the Swiftvets for four full sections, the Times finally acknowledges that the Swiftvets were right about the story that Kerry once said was "seared -- seared" into his memory and has used for at least 25 years to explain his political activism (as opposed to a narcissistic egomania):

This week, as its leaders spoke with reporters, they have focused primarily on the one allegation in the book that Mr. Kerry's campaign has not been able to put to rest: that he was not in Cambodia on Christmas Eve in 1968, as he declared in a statement to the Senate in 1986. Even Mr. Brinkley, who has emerged as a defender of Mr. Kerry, said in an interview that it was unlikely that Mr. Kerry's Swift boat ventured into Cambodia on Christmas or Christmas Eve, though he said he believed that Mr. Kerry was probably there shortly afterward.

In an article of over 3,500 words, those 99 are the only coverage the Gray Lady provides for the embarrassing debacle of the campaign's last two weeks. No mention of Kerry advisor Michael Meehan's clumsy geographical explanations of how the Mekong Delta formed the border between Cambodia and Viet Nam, which the London Telegraph noted was a "geographical area not found on maps." Not a word about how the Kerry campaign insisted that Kerry never said he had been in Cambodia, hastily reversed itself when shown the Congressional Record for March 27th, 1986, and then went silent for two days while it concocted the ludicrous notion that Kerry had meant he was near Cambodia -- which makes no sense of this supposed epiphany. Finally, they dragged up Douglas Brinkley to assert that Kerry made secret missions with Special Ops guys and promised to write all about it in the next New Yorker -- and instead has hidden himself from all contact in the media.

None. Not a word over 99. And that 99 comes five paragraphs from the bottom of a 73-paragraph article.

After studiuously ignoring the raging controversy, the New York Times finally reported on it on the same day that Kerry "came out swinging," in the words of another media outlet, charging his fellow combat veterans Republican stooges. How ... convenient for Kerry that the Times had written an article that fits his campaign strategy so very well.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 19, 2004 10:04 PM

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