The Right wing Media and the Republican Party's dirty tricks
Salon Through the Looking Glass
Did you know that the "mainstrem media" is actively helping the Bush reelection campaign? Well neither did I but apparently an intrepid Salon journalist, Eric Boehlert, has taken off his tinfoil beanie and discovered the truth...
(You may need to stand an irritating ad to read the whole article)
... The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth became the latest multimedia incarnation. Launching the most bitter, and perhaps most deliberately misleading Republican-backed campaign attack since the racist Willie Horton ad of 1988, the group, bankrolled by a wealthy Bush donor, aired hollow, secondhand allegations that John Kerry lied about his actions in Vietnam that won five military medals. Not one charge about Kerry's medals has withstood the slightest scrutiny, but thanks to the inaction of the national press corps, which again appeared in awe of the mighty Republican attack machine and its conservative media echo chamber, the Swift Boat's dirty trick succeed in disrupting the presidential campaign for several weeks this summer.
Instead of quickly pointing out that Kerry's Vietnam accusers were factually challenged and that the coauthors of the anti-Kerry book, "Unfit for Command," had severe credibility problems, too many mainstream reporters, editors and producers, taking their cue from Republicans, agreed to abandon serious campaign coverage for weeks in order to focus, yet again, on a so-called character flaw of the Democratic candidate. By the time the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times did deploy reporters to knock down the Swift Boat Vets' rickety charges, they'd taken on a life of their own in the anti-Kerry netherworld of talk radio, right-wing bloggers and Fox News.
This is one of those utterly fascinating articles that purports to be a sort of neutral behind the scenes analysis but somehow fails utterly to mention the large whale carcass (and bunch of petunias) dumped in the middle of the stage. It takes as its starting point that Kerry is 100% truthful at all times and that SBVT are in cahoots with the Bush campaign and then twists all the evidence to this end.
As a result it omits any mention of Kerry's 1971 VVAW activities -about the closest it gets to 1971 is discussing O'Neill's activites then. It calls the SBVT ad about Kerry's senate testimony "damning" but without covering the content. The entire whale is dismissed in "one of the Swift Boat Vets who appeared in a damning anti-Kerry ad served on the Bush campaign's veterans' advisory committee". The result of this omission is that the claim that SBVT are Republican stooges is more credible, but it also means that a whole swathe of other evidence (such as O'Neill's donations to democratic candidates in various races) is also required to be omitted lest it poke holes in the main claim.
Likewise Cambodia (the bowl of petunias) gets mentioned merely as What part of "I was in Cambodia," did O'Neill not understand? presumably because any further analysis would make it utterly clear that whereas O'Neill claimed merely to have been on the border at various times, Kerry made a specific place, date and time claim of an event "seared into him" that was contradicted by his own testimony elsewhere.
Part of the problem, apparently, is that the mainstream media treats the SBVT claims with too much deference: Even when the press took the time to dissect the Swift Boat charges, and found them lacking in factual basis, reporters still treated the accusers, and the partisan attack machine behind it, with undue care. For instance, in a detailed Aug. 17 report, the Los Angeles Times noted three key findings: that contemporaneous military documents support Kerry's -- and the Navy's -- version of the events surrounding his medals, that the men who actually served with Kerry on his Swift boat strenuously support Kerry's claim, and that some of the Swift Boat critics have been caught changing their stories and giving conflicting accounts. Yet the paper came to a timid conclusion: "What actually happened ... 35 years ago along the remote southern coast of Vietnam remains murky," suggesting the controversy is an impossible-to-solve he said/he said dispute. Bloggers such as Patterico and Beldar were remarkably critical of that LATimes story for rather different reasons, considering it to be an essentially fact free hit piece, so its interesting to note that paragraphs such as the ones below are consdiered as "treating with undue care" - obviously the LAT forgot key adjectival phrases such as "Barking mad"
The ad, the book and the people behind them have become staples of conservative talk shows and Internet sites. The claims — that Kerry lied about his war experiences, didn't deserve his medals and betrayed soldiers everywhere by protesting the war after serving in it — also have been recited in the mainstream media, along with denials of the allegations.
What military documentation exists and has been made public generally supports the view put forth by Kerry and most of his crewmates — that he acted courageously and came by his Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts honestly. This view of Kerry as war hero is supported by all but one of the surviving veterans who served with him on the two boats he commanded.
On the other hand it turns out that the media is treating the Bush AWOL saga with kid gloves. This statement utterly ignores the fact that whereas Kerry spent the entire Democratic Convention and most of his campaign glorifying his Vietnam war record, Bush has concentrated on more recent issues such as the collapse of a couple of towers in New York. Obviously the failure of Bush to volunteer for the SEALs and spend a season raping and pillaging like Ghenghis Khan 35 years ago is more important than his record as president. Although he does manage to disparage that too: Because with a presidential résumé that features a quagmire abroad in Iraq that has cost nearly 1,000 American lives, a net loss of more than 1 million jobs at home, and a job approval struggling to reach 50 percent, defining Kerry and putting him on the defensive may be the only way Bush can salvage a second term. Luskin nails Bush's economic record well and I see no real reason to improve on it. Likewise the "approval" rating is a little disingenuous and discussed well elsewhere. So what about the quagmire of 1000 lost American lives? Hello? 1000 lost American lives in a little under a year and a half works out as an average monthly death rate of about 60 per month. Compare this to the famous quagmire of Vietnam where the best months had death rates of three times this and the worst months (mid 1968-mid 1969) were closer to ten times this rate.
Some other amusing lines are: Alexander, the documentary maker, says not much has changed in four years: "I've been on the press plane and I've heard what the national press corps says about John Kerry. They don't like him. It's reminiscent of the Gore campaign." One wonders perhaps if that's because of the famous Kerry charm - you know the frequent invitations to go roughing it at Wendy's or surfing in Oregon, not to mention the humble "one of the people" nature that he demonstrates whenever he has to wait in line - or because since the start of August Kerry has avoided talking to the press as if they carried the plague. Sorry such sarcasm is unbecoming, let me try and be serious for a second here
And then there is this: (What are the odds that that an anti-Bush book coauthored by someone who spouted off online making fanatical slurs comparing Bush to a terrorist and his supporters to Nazis would ever be taken seriously by CNN?) Quick someone check if CNN has reviewed Maureen Dowd's latest and/or do a quick scan on the online outpourings of a certain rotund "documentary" maker. Somehow I think Eric seems to have utterly forgotten both of those charmers, not to mention Paul Krugman and "fighting" Al Franken.
I could go on but really its pointless, one does eventually tire of shooting fish in a barrel.