Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's Hannity, 10:40pm ET/PT Wednesday

Probed Bush Guard Record, But Now Want Bush to Condemn Swift Ads --8/23/2004


1. Probed Bush Guard Record, But Now Want Bush to Condemn Swift Ads
On the first Face the Nation after President Bush's Air National Guard service became a big media scandal in February, CBS's Bob Schieffer focused on the substance, demanding to know what recently released records revealed. He did not demand that the Kerry team condemn the pursuit of the issue or DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe for accusing Bush of being "AWOL" and, in fact, his co-host, Time's Karen Tumulty, outlined how the subject helped the Kerry campaign in its denigration of Bush character. But a bit more than six months later, on the first Face the Nation after the broadcast networks finally got around to the charges from the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Schieffer and his co-host, the Boston Globe's Nina Easton, didn't care about the substance of Kerry's record as both instead demanded to know why President Bush hadn't condemned the group's ads. Easton was concerned about Kerry's plight, noting he had "finally" condemned the ads. She still worried: "Do you think he waited too long? Do you think the damage has already been done?"

2. Chris Matthews Hammers Malkin Over "Self-Inflicted" Kerry Wounds
Chris "The Bully" Matthews. In an interview segment on last Thursday's Hardball on MSNBC, which generated a lot of talk radio attention on Friday, including an appearance on Rush Limbaugh's radio show by conservative columnist and author Michelle Malkin, Matthews went ballistic when Malkin related how John O'Neill's book, Unfit for Command, argued that John Kerry's wounds, for which he received his purple hearts, were "self-inflicted." Matthews, apparently unaware of the book's content, hammered away at her, demanding repeatedly that she acknowledge that she was ludicrously charging that Kerry "shot himself on purpose." Since Kerry never got a bullet wound, Matthews's "shot himself" formulation was bizarre. An excerpt below from Malkin's illuminating blog entry on her ordeal.

3. NYT Delivers "One-Sided Lawyer's Brief" for Kerry on Swift Vets
On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN, Bob Novak blasted a lengthy Friday New York Times article, on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as "a lawyer's brief for John Kerry. It was one-sided. It was distorted. It's the kind of thing I expect to read in the New York Times, which is a Democratic propaganda sheet right now." Indeed, the article, which began on the front page and consumed an entire interior page, complete with a chart showing the supposed "web of connections to the Bush family," didn't mention until its 61st of 65 paragraphs how, thanks to the swift vets coming forward, Kerry has had to back off his claims about spending Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia. Below, an excerpt from a TimesWatch.org critique of the August 20 front page story.

4. Caution on Stem Cells Redolent of Bush's "False Hope" for Iraq
Laura Bush's comments the week before last, urging politicians to not mislead the public by giving "false hope" in exaggerating the potential cures embryonic stem cell research will soon bring about, reminded the public, Newsweek reporter Melinda Henneberger maintained, of, get this, the Bush administration's "statements about how democracy in Iraq was around the corner, you know, and I think that you could fairly make the case that, that was raising false hope more than this."

5. Koppel Rues Success of FNC's "Ideological...Waving-the-Flag"
In segments last Monday and Tuesday, National Public Radio's Morning Edition explored the topic of the media's political slant, but NPR reporter Kim Masters devoted far more air time to liberal charges of the media's conservative bias than she did to conservative complaints about media bias in favor of liberals. Relaying the views of a professor, for instance, Masters passed along as a perfectly rationale view how "he finds the tone of Fahrenheit 9/11 just as alarming as the tone of the Fox News talk shows." ABC's Ted Koppel, whose views Masters featured, missed the days when Walter Cronkite and the broadcast networks dominated with "a fairly straight take on the news," only to be replaced now the Fox News Channel which has only proven "that by going for the ideological, thumping-the-chest, waving-the-flag approach, that there is a huge audience to be had out there."

6. ABC Edits Claim Ridge "High-Fiving" Kennedy on "No Fly" List?
A bit of editorializing that went too far even for ABC News? On Friday, Good Morning America news reader Chris Cuomo asserted that Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge celebrated Ted Kennedy having to endure being delayed by having his name on the "no-fly" list. Cuomo reported that Ridge "apologized" to Kennedy, but then Cuomo asserted that Ridge "was seen laughing into his hand and high-fiving several of his colleagues." To make clear he was kidding, Cuomo quickly added: "That is untrue." Nonetheless, co-host Robin Roberts, while she and Diane Sawyer were laughing, assured viewers: "And just so you know, this will never be seen on the West Coast, what he just said."


Probed Bush Guard Record, But Now Want
Bush to Condemn Swift Ads

CBS's Bob Schieffer On the first Face the Nation after President Bush's Air National Guard service became a big media scandal in February, CBS's Bob Schieffer focused on the substance, demanding to know what recently released records revealed. He did not demand that the Kerry team condemn the pursuit of the issue or DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe for accusing Bush of being "AWOL" and, in fact, his co-host, Time's Karen Tumulty, outlined how the subject helped the Kerry campaign in its denigration of Bush character. But a bit more than six months later, on the first Face the Nation after the broadcast networks finally got around to the charges from the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Schieffer and his co-host, the Boston Globe's Nina Easton, didn't care about the substance of Kerry's record as both instead demanded to know why President Bush hadn't condemned the group's ads. Easton was more concerned about Kerry's plight, noting he had "finally" condemned the ads. She still worried: "Do you think he waited too long? Do you think the damage has already been done?"

The February 15 Face the Nation didn't feature any elected officials as the program started with a session on gay marriage with Dr. James Dobson. Later, with Tumulty and Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson, Schieffer cited the "dramatic release late on a Friday night of these hundreds of pages of records" by the White House and he asked Robinson: "Did you find anything new in those records?" Schieffer soon pressed Robinson on Bush's 30-year-old records: "What has all this turned up? Was the President not at these Guard meetings? Is there actual proof of that? Or is it we just don't know what happened here?"

Tumulty chimed in with an approving assessment of how the Bush Guard story helps Kerry advance his denigration of Bush: "They're also trying to draw the contrast the way they want it drawn. Their apparent nominee is a man who, although he opposed the war, went to Vietnam and served. President Bush supported the war and went into the National Guard at a time when it was a near guarantee you wouldn't have to go to Vietnam. I think that this is the contrast that the Democrats are going to want to ride on this very important issue of character."

But on Sunday's Face the Nation, the CBS team wasn't interested in how the anti-Kerry ads may help Bush. Instead, co-host Nina Easton of the Boston Globe worried about how the ads hurt Kerry as she vexed to Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who came aboard with Republican Senator Pat Roberts primarily to discuss reorganization of the intelligence agencies, about how Kerry "finally issued a harsh condemnation and suggested the Bush campaign was behind these attacks. Do you think he waited too long? Do you think the damage has already been done?"

Easton turned to Republican Senator Pat Roberts and demanded: "Why doesn't the Bush White House condemn the ads? Why doesn't President Bush condemn those ads?" Schieffer picked up on Easton's point, and pressed Roberts about how "every time somebody asks an official, from President Bush right on down, they give this very carefully crafted answer. They say, 'we condemn all these ads,' but they will not condemn this ad specifically. Why is that?"

In the second segment on the August 22 show, Schieffer and Easton interviewed Kerry's two daughters. Schieffer's first inquiry to them: "All of us wonder what is it like to be out there when you hear these attacks on your dad? How do you handle that?"

Chris Matthews Hammers Malkin Over "Self-Inflicted" Kerry Wounds

Chris "The Bully" Matthews. In an interview segment on last Thursday's Hardball on MSNBC, which generated a lot of talk radio attention on Friday, including an appearance on Rush Limbaugh's radio show by conservative columnist and author Michelle Malkin, Matthews went ballistic when Malkin related how John O'Neill's book, Unfit for Command, argued that John Kerry's wounds, for which he received his purple hearts, were "self-inflicted." Matthews, apparently unaware of the book's content, hammered away at her, demanding repeatedly that she acknowledge that she was ludicrously charging that Kerry "shot himself on purpose."

Since Kerry never got a bullet wound, Matthews's "shot himself" formulation was bizarre. O'Neill's book suggested Kerry was wounded by rice from a rice depot he blew up and from ricocheted fragments from a grenade he threw close to shore.

Friday's Hardball devoted more time to re-capping the Malkin interview and trying to show how she, not Matthews, was in the wrong. Keith Olbermann on Thursday insulted Malkin as "a fool," followed up with more on Friday and wouldn't let go on Saturday when, during his special post-Olympics coverage program, he sarcastically remarked about how "Abraham Lincoln shot himself." (That's a quote from my recollection.)

Due to my being away from the office, I don't have anything transcribed from Hardball on Friday or Olbermann on Saturday, but I do have Olbermann's Friday comments which are below following an excerpt of Malkin's early Friday morning posting, on her blog, of a recounting of her ordeal on the August 19 Hardball:

AMBUSH JOURNALISM...OR MY EVENING WITH CAVEMAN CHRIS MATTHEWS
By Michelle Malkin August 20, 2004 02:34 AM

Here's a peek behind the cable TV curtain. It's not pretty.

So, my publicist arranges for me to go on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews on Thursday night to talk about my recent columns on the FBI and national security profiling and my new book. Despite the show's basement ratings, we figure it's a good opportunity to reach out to a new audience. FOX News, with whom I have a contract, has generously allowed me to appear on some competing networks to talk about the book. Thursday was the second to the last day that I could make such appearances....

As I am seated at the table with Matthews, who I am meeting for the first time, he cracks a joke -- and not in a well-meaning way -- about how I look. (There are quite a few people who are hung up on this.) "Are you sure you are old enough to be on the show? What are you? 28?" I grit my teeth. He badgers me again with the same question. I politely answer his question and supply my age....

Needless to say, things went downhill, fast and loud, from there.

1) Matthews introduces me, says we'll get to the subject of my book "in a minute," and launches into a spiel about how Bush should order the Swift Boat Vets to stop running their ads. Matthews intentionally mischaracterizes me as "speaking on behalf of the Bush campaign," when he knew full well I was there (with special permission from FOX News) to talk about my book, which he had sitting right next to him on the table and which he had chatted with me briefly about before the start of the segment. I correct him. He does not acknowledge his error.

2) When I tried to make a point about how the mainstream media ought to subject John Kerry to as much skull-pounding interrogation as private citizens such as Swift Boat Vet Larry Thurlow had endured from Matthews and the Washington Post, Matthews cut me off and snorted that he had never been thought of as "mainstream." Yeah, keep snorting.

3) In response to Matthews' claim that the Swift Boat Vets campaign was orchestrated by the White House, I noted that the Boston Globe -- hardly a hothouse of GOP operatives -- had raised many of the same questions about Kerry's war record as the Swift Boat Vets had. No response from Matthews.

4) [Fellow guest] Willie Brown expresses exasperation over Swift Boat Vets' questions about Kerry's wounds. He says: "There are questions about the shrapnel wounds. So what else is there? How much he got shot? How deep? How much shrapnel does he have?

Note that I didn't bring the subject of shrapnel. (Got that, Keith Olbermann?) Willie Brown raised the issue.

Here is how I responded verbatim:

"Well yeah. Why don't people ask him more specific questions about the shrapnel in his leg? There are legitimate questions about whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound."

Matthews frantically stuffed words down my mouth when I raised these allegations made in Unfit for Command that Kerry's wounds might have been self-inflicted. In his ill-informed and ideologically warped mind, this transmogrified into me accusing Kerry of "shooting himself on purpose" to get an award.

I repeated that the allegations involved whether the injuries were "self inflicted wounds." I DID NOT SAY HE SHOT HIMSELF ON PURPOSE and Chris Matthews knows it.

Only someone who had not read Unfit for Command would interpret what I was saying the way Matthews did. The book raises questions by vets, many of whom were with Kerry, about whether there was or wasn't enemy fire during the Dec. 1968 incident that led to his first Purple Heart (Patrick Runyon is quoted in a Boston Globe account on p. 35 saying "I can't say for sure that we got return fire or how [Kerry] got nicked. I couldn't say one way or the other. I know he did get nicked, a scrape on the arm.") and whether the injury came from a self-inflicted wound after he caught a tiny piece of shrapnel when he fired a grenade from his M-79 grenade launcher too close (p. 36); whether or not there was "intense rocket and rifle fire" during the Feb. 1969 incident that led to his second Purple Heart (Rocky Hildreth, officer of an accompanying boat on Dam Doi Canal that day, says there was no "intense rocket and rifle fire" on p. 78); and whether the shrapnel wound in his buttocks, which Kerry says he sustained in March 1969 and led to the awarding of his third Purple Heart, was the result of a mine explosion while on a mission or from a wound from his own grenade that he set off too close to a stock of rice he was trying to destroy (p. 87). See also pages 30-31. I was trying to get to these points, but Matthews would not let me finish a sentence.

Well, guess what? This foaming jerk Matthews, who called me irresponsible and kicked me off the show admitted that a) he himself had not read the damned book, b) he was not interested in asking Kerry about the specific doubts raised by vets about his wounds, and c) he had not and would not question Kerry about these specific allegations.

"Are you saying he shot himself on purpose?" Matthews hammered. I repeated myself again clearly that I was referring to the allegations about self-inflicted wounds in the book. When I tried to explain that the vets who were with Kerry had cast a lot of doubt on whether enemy fire occurred during the first two incidents, Matthews cut me off again. "Why did you say that?" he badgered. Because, I said, I was talking about what was in the book, which he had admitted he hadn't read.

"Don't you wonder?" I asked.

"No, I don't," he bellowed. "It's never occurred to me."

With that, I was kicked off the second segment.

As the show broke for commercials, Matthews scrambled for his producers to see if what he said was true. And I'm irresponsible? One staffer ran to the office where I had left my copy of the book, and handed it to Matthews, who -- for the first time, apparently -- started flipping through it. I asked for my book back and politely said thank you. After I left, he trashed me again on the air and his scurrilous charges were repeated by his MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann....

I am used to playing hardball. I expect it. I am used to ad hominem attacks. I get more in a day than most of these wussies have received in their lifetimes. But what happened last night was pure slimeball and the unfair, unbalanced, and unhinged purveyors of journalism, or whatever it is they call what they do at MSNBC, should be ashamed.

What I take away from all this is that the Democrat Party waterboys in the media are in full desperation mode. I have now witnessed firsthand and up close (Matthews' spittle nearly hit me in the face) how the pressure from alternative media sources -- the blogosphere, conservative Internet forums, talk radio, Regnery Publishing, FOX News, etc. -- is driving these people absolutely batty.

Keep bringing it on.

END of Excerpt

For the transcript of the Aust 19 Hardball with Malkin: www.msnbc.msn.com

For what Malkin tagged as Matthews' and Olbermann's "blog bloviations," see: www.msnbc.msn.com

That Matthews appeared so ignorant of O'Neill's book is really amazing since Matthews spent half of an earlier show aggressively questioning O'Neill as John Hurley of Veterans for Kerry watched in amusement.

Malkin had more to say about Olbermann:
"Olbermann expresses incredulity that I was simply reporting what the Swift Boat Vets' book says, rather than spouting off in a half-baked manner: 'Ms. Malkin wouldn't even go so far as to attribute the suspicion to herself. It was in the book.'"
"Olbermann, alleged journalist, is smearing me because I agreed to discuss and analyze claims made by the authors of Unfit for Command and actually referred to what was in the book -- rather than cluelessly spew uninformed opinions about the book a la Chris Matthews (of whom Olbermann drools, 'never prouder of you, Chris.') Parroting Matthews' conspiratorial line, Olbermann ignorantly suggests that I am following orders from the Swift Boat Vets to 'steer the Kerry-Shot-Himself flotsam into the mainstream media.' I suggest he talk to the producer, Dominic Bellone, who booked me about the circumstances of my appearance on the show and ask whether I was dispatched by the Bush campaign or Swift Boat Vets operatives or anyone else associated with the vets' book."

For Malkin's blog entry in full, to which the MRC's Tim Graham alerted me: michellemalkin.com

(Malkin's blog entry initially quoted Olbermann as calling her "an idiot," but since he actually labeled her "a fool," as she later corrected, the above blog excerpt does not include the "idiot" misquote.)

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth tracked down what Olbermann hurled on Friday's Countdown: "We at Countdown were preparing an apology for my choice of language last night after the writer Michelle Malkin went on Rush Limbaugh's radio entertainment program and wrote in her Web blog that I had called her a, quote, 'idiot.' It was Ms. Malkin, who on Hardball last night, raised the accusation that John Kerry's Vietnam wounds may have been self-inflicted. It's naive and old-fashioned, but I feel you should reserve those terms like 'idiot' exclusively for men. Political differences, fault or innocence are all secondary. There are codes. There's also a problem. I never called her an idiot."

Clip of exchange from previous night's show:
Olbermann: "And this woman, Malkin, who made a fool out of herself on this network about an hour ago, basically said in this, in what she was reading, the book that accompanied the Swift Boat ad, that Kerry, at least, somebody asked whether or not Kerry should be asked, in that sort of, 'let's step away from actually making a statement, let's just put it as a question about a question about a question-'"
John Harwood, Wall Street Journal: "Right."
Olbermann: "-whether or not Kerry shot himself."

Back on live Friday, Olbermann charged: "So that's what you're dealing with here. She's an author or a journalist or something, and she misquoted the insult to herself. And keeping track of this particular over-inflating souffle on Hardblogger on MSNBC.com, a nice place to visit on your way to our corner of the Web at countdown.msnbc.com."

Malkin may have made a quoting error, but that doesn't obviate Olbermann's obligation for some balance and fairness on the swift boat issue, something he has sorely lacked. See as a prime example the hostile and inaccurate coverage recounted in the May 7 CyberAlert:
NBC Nightly News and MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Friday night denounced the ad from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, treating the group's expression of free speech as a "loophole" in campaign finance law that must be plugged. Unencumbered by any restrictions on their free speech, NBC's Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann launched their own independent attack on the Vietnam vets who are detractors of John Kerry in order to discredit those with a viewpoint NBC/MSNBC apparently wants to keep hidden from the American people. "They may get away with it," Mitchell fretted. Approaching lunacy, Olbermann warned that an upcoming book from a Swift Boat Veterans for Truth leader is "from Regnery Press, which is supported in some way by Richard Mellon Scaife of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, and you now bring in the whole mystical right-wing conspiracy jazz."

Olbermann has yet to correct that ridiculousness about Scaife and Regery.

For that CyberAlert item in full: www.mediaresearch.org

NYT Delivers "One-Sided Lawyer's Brief"
for Kerry on Swift Vets

On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN, Bob Novak blasted a lengthy Friday New York Times article, on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as "a lawyer's brief for John Kerry. It was one-sided. It was distorted. It's the kind of thing I expect to read in the New York Times, which is a Democratic propaganda sheet right now." Indeed, the article, which began on the front page and consumed an entire interior page, complete with a chart showing the supposed "web of connections to the Bush family," didn't mention until its 61st of 65 paragraphs how, thanks to the swift vets coming forward, Kerry has had to back off his claims about spending Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia.

Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch.org site, on Friday wrote up a critique of the August 20 Times story. An excerpt:

The Times finally devoted a front-page story to the Swift Boat veterans challenging John Kerry's Vietnam war record (with timing that coincides neatly with Kerry's first public counterattack on the issue -- was the Times waiting for Kerry's permission?).

But the story by Kate Zernike and Jim Rutenberg followed a pattern reminiscent of the Clinton scandal days, focusing on the subjects making the attack instead of the actual anti-Democratic charges raised, an angle clear from the headline, "Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Attack on Kerry."

They wrote: "After weeks of taking fire over veterans' accusations that he had lied about his Vietnam service record to win medals and build a political career, Senator John Kerry shot back yesterday, calling those statements categorically false and branding the people behind them tools of the Bush campaign....How the group came into existence is a story of how veterans with longstanding anger about Mr. Kerry's antiwar statements in the early 1970's allied themselves with Texas Republicans. 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."

For emphasis, the Times even provided a graphic of that suspicious "web" of connections. See: nytimes.com

There's more guilt-by-association-with-Republicans: "Mr. O'Neill, who pressed his charges against Mr. Kerry in numerous television appearances Thursday, had spent the 33 years since he debated Mr. Kerry building a successful law practice in Houston, intermingling with some of the state's most powerful Republicans and building an impressive client list. Among the companies he represented was Falcon Seaboard, the energy firm founded by the current lieutenant governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, a central player in the Texas redistricting plan that has positioned state Republicans to win more Congressional seats this fall."

In fact, a full one-third of the article was dedicated to the fact that O'Neill knows some Texas Republicans. While O'Neill is made to defend his connections, he's not given space to recount his charges against Kerry....

Later the Times insisted: "But on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements."

Some of the ammunition for that charge is provided from the files of Kerry's official biographer/hagiographer Douglas Brinkley: "In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr. Kerry's authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley, provided by Mr. Brinkley to The New York Times, Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral and a leader of the group, allowed that he had disagreed with Mr. Kerry's antiwar positions but said, 'I am not going to say anything negative about him.'"

Near the end, the Times finally brushed up lightly against Kerry's discredited "Christmas in Cambodia" claim: "As serious questions about its claims have arisen, the group has remained steadfast and adaptable. 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 at Christmas 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 at Christmas, though he said he believed that Mr. Kerry was probably there shortly afterward."

Besides falsely charging that there's only one allegation in the book that has not been put to rest, Zernike and Rutenberg didn't even get into the unflattering details of Kerry's Cambodia untruth, ignoring the damning quote Kerry used on the floor of the Senate in 1986: "I remember Christmas of 1968, sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia, I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and the President of the United States telling the American people that I was not there, the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me."...

As for the inference that the allegations in "Unfit For Duty" have been refuted, Rich Galen noted many facets remain in dispute over the awarding of Kerry's Bronze Star.

Swift Boat veteran Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Swift boat alongside Kerry, claims there was no enemy fire during a Kerry mission into Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969, in which Kerry rescued sailor Jim Rassmann, an act for which he received the medal.

Even a pro-Kerry story by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs notes two other Swift boat skippers on the scene contradict Kerry's account of enemy fire: "Two other Swift boat skippers who were direct participants in the March 13, 1969, mine explosion on the Bay Hap, Jack Chenoweth and Richard Pees, have said they do not remember coming under 'enemy fire.' A fourth commander, Don Droz, who was one of Kerry's closest friends in Vietnam, was killed in action a month later."

Today's Times story didn't reach that level of detail, simply making it a "Kerry said-They said" event: "But the group says that there was no enemy fire, and that while Mr. Kerry did rescue [Jim] Rassmann, the action was what anyone would have expected of a sailor, and hardly heroic. Asked why Mr. Rassmann recalled that he was dodging enemy bullets, a member of the group, Jack Chenoweth, said, 'He's lying.'"

Of course, Rassmann is not necessarily lying about anything. But since he was in the water at the time, he may not have had the most reliable view of the action. In an interview on Fox's Hannity and Colmes Thursday night, group leader John O'Neill said eight eyewitnesses contradict Rassman's account of the Kerry rescue.

But rather than evaluating their stories for truth, the Times focused on personal attacks on the anti-Kerry veterans (who number 254, according to O'Neill), employing more guilt-by-association-with-conservatives: "The book outlining the veterans' charges, 'Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against Kerry,' has also come under fire. It is published by Regnery, a conservative company that has published numerous books critical of Democrats, and written by Mr. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, who was identified on the book jacket as a Harvard Ph.D. and the author of many books and articles. But Mr. Corsi also acknowledged that he has been a contributor of anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic comments to a right-wing Web site. He said he regretted those comments. The group's arguments have foundered on other contradictions. In the television commercial, Dr. Louis Letson looks into the camera and declares, 'I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury.' Dr. Letson does not dispute the wound -- a piece of shrapnel above Mr. Kerry's left elbow -- but he and others in the group argue that it was minor and self-inflicted."

Back in February, during the media frenzy over liberal questioning of Bush's Vietnam service, the Times sniffed that Bush had made his Vietnam service an issue: "Mr. Bush himself also made the issue of military service fair game by posturing as a swashbuckling pilot when welcoming a carrier home from Iraq. Now, the president needs to make a fuller explanation of how he spent his last two years in the Guard."

But it's a different story when a conservative group raises questions about Kerry's service, which Kerry has made the centerpiece of his campaign. Back on April 22, a Times editorial pushed Sen. Kerry for full disclosure of his Vietnam medical records, but the paper has yet to follow up, even as the Swift Boat controversy has thickened. As the veterans explain in their book Unfit for Command: "There is a government form -- Standard Form 180 -- that Kerry could easily execute to permit the Department of Defense to release all his records, including the required records for receiving the Purple Heart or Silver Star."

Now that the Times has finally declared the Swift Boat charges worthy of a front-page story (albeit an extremely hostile one), will the paper again call on Kerry to release the data that might help clear up some of the questions raised by the Swift Boat veterans once and for all?

END of Excerpt

For the August 20 New York Times article in full: www.nytimes.com

For the TimesWatch item in full: www.timeswatch.org

For the latest bias in the New York Times, check: www.timeswatch.org

Caution on Stem Cells Redolent of Bush's
"False Hope" for Iraq

Laura Bush's comments the week before last, urging politicians to not mislead the public by giving "false hope" in exaggerating the potential cures embryonic stem cell research will soon bring about, reminded the public, Newsweek reporter Melinda Henneberger maintained, of, get this, the Bush administration's "statements about how democracy in Iraq was around the corner, you know, and I think that you could fairly make the case that, that was raising false hope more than this."

A one-track mind at work.

The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught Henneberger's reasoning in this exchange on the August 15 edition of the syndicated weekend Chris Matthews Show:

Matthews: "The question is, Melinda, I want you to get in on this thing. The question is, will people in the suburbs, which is the targeted part of this country right now, urban areas tend to be Democrat; rural areas tend to be Republican. When you go to those suburban, those counties, of Pennsylvania where she went the other day to talk, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, those areas which will decide the election, do you think people are gonna vote on the health issue, this issue?"
Henneberger: "No, not this year. I mean, I think it could be an issue that people are talking about, but I think that Iraq and the economy trumpet. The thing that surprised me about what Mrs. Bush had to say is, here she is saying, 'We can't, you know, let's not give false hope. That's really cruel,' and I just think that reminds people about all their statements about how democracy in Iraq was around the corner, you know, and I think that you could fairly make the case that, that was raising false hope more than this."

Koppel Rues Success of FNC's
"Ideological...Waving-the-Flag"

In segments last Monday and Tuesday, National Public Radio's Morning Edition explored the topic of the media's political slant, but NPR reporter Kim Masters devoted far more air time to liberal charges of the media's conservative bias than she did to conservative complaints about media bias in favor of liberals. Relaying the views of a professor, for instance, Masters passed along as a perfectly rationale view how "he finds the tone of Fahrenheit 9/11 just as alarming as the tone of the Fox News talk shows." ABC's Ted Koppel, whose views Masters featured, missed the days when Walter Cronkite and the broadcast networks dominated with "a fairly straight take on the news," only to be replaced now the Fox News Channel which has only proven "that by going for the ideological, thumping-the-chest, waving-the-flag approach, that there is a huge audience to be had out there."

[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, submitted this item for CyberAlert.]

The Monday, August 16 segment began as if it might deal extensively with arguments from both sides -- G. Gordon Liddy was heard from briefly -- but before long it became a left-liberal gripe-fest. Among those soundbited were Jay Harris, publisher of the leftist magazine Mother Jones; Stewart Bailey, co-producer of Comedy Central's generally liberal The Daily Show; Robert Greenwald, producer-director of the Fox News Channel-bashing documentary Outfoxed; and Koppel.

Greenwald asserted that much of the establishment media took a right turn as a result of 9/11: "We saw many people on television, on the radio...crossing a line that they hadn't crossed before...out of fear, out of concern, out of patriotism."

Both Greenwald and Harris flayed the media for their supposed failure to scrutinize claims that Saddam Hussein's Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and Koppel lamented another instance of what he apparently considered excessive media credulity: "If you go back and you read what was in the press [as the Vietnam war neared], or if you look at what was on television at that time, we were, to our shame, no more critical back then than we were during the immediate post-9/11 period."

Koppel maintained: "Unfortunately, our industry is no different from any other. We probably have more cowards or people who are worried about covering their posteriors than we have heroes." Perhaps that's because, as NPR's Masters insisted, "Most networks and newsmagazines are part of huge corporations that may have agendas of their own."

The issue of media ownership, of course, is often the last refuge -- and sometimes the first refuge -- of those who wish to avoid the questions that content analysis of news reporting tend to raise.

Tuesday's (August 17) segment focused on "opinion media." Koppel declared, apropos of Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11, "I like Michael. He does an extraordinarily interesting film," though he added that "it is not journalism" and that "the danger is that a lot of people look at it as though it were."

But does the Fox News Channel provide real journalism? Koppel seemed to have his doubts. "What Fox has demonstrated quite brilliantly," he stated "is that by going for the ideological, thumping-the-chest, waving-the-flag approach, that there is a huge audience to be had out there."

That triangulation theme -- Fox on one extreme, Moore on the other, and, implicitly, the likes of ABC in the unbiased middle -- was echoed in Masters' account of Ed Wasserman's experience. Wasserman, a journalism professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, received considerable hate mail when he criticized what Masters called the "stridency" of Fox News' talk programming. Masters then remarked: "To be fair, Wasserman says he finds the tone of Fahrenheit 9/11 just as alarming as the tone of the Fox News talk shows." (To bolster the point, the segment contained a snippet of Bill O'Reilly and another of Sean Hannity at their most ill-mannered.)

Koppel misses the days when ABC, CBS, and NBC ruled: "People from all states -- that was before we used to call 'em blue states and red states -- felt that there was sort of a rather bland, perhaps, uniformity about the networks and about people like Walter Cronkite, and that he could be relied upon to give them...a fairly straight take on the news." Many conservatives, of course, would dispute how "straight" that take was, and might contend that Koppel simply resents that FNC's conservative bias now counters the liberal biases of the establishment networks.

For the audio of part two, with Koppel's comments, see NPR's posting: www.npr.org

ABC Edits Claim Ridge "High-Fiving" Kennedy
on "No Fly" List?

A bit of editorializing that went too far even for ABC News? On Friday, Good Morning America news reader Chris Cuomo asserted that Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge celebrated Ted Kennedy having to endure being delayed by having his name on the "no-fly" list. Cuomo reported that Ridge "apologized" to Kennedy, but then Cuomo asserted that Ridge "was seen laughing into his hand and high-fiving several of his colleagues." To make clear he was kidding, Cuomo quickly added: "That is untrue." Nonetheless, co-host Robin Roberts, while she and Diane Sawyer were laughing, assured viewers: "And just so you know, this will never be seen on the West Coast, what he just said."

The attempt at humor, caught by the MRC's Jessica Anderson, occurred at the end of the 8am news update on the August 20 program.

Cuomo read his last item: "One of the most powerful political figures in America, Senator Ted Kennedy, has revealed for first time that his name was placed on the Homeland Security no-fly list. Even though it was an apparent mix-up with a similar name, Kennedy says an airline agent refused to sell him a ticket."

After a clip of Kennedy, at a Senate hearing, detailing an exchange he once had at a ticket counter, Cuomo added (as he misidentified Ridge's title): "The Senator says it took him weeks to get his name off the list, and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge later apologized. However, it must be noted, Diane and Robin, that then Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge was seen laughing into his hand and high-fiving several of his colleagues. That is untrue, but that is the news at eight. Diane and Robin."

Robin Roberts, while she and Diane Sawyer laughed: "And just so you know, this will never be seen on the West Coast, what he just said."

I bet it aired again anyway.

-- Brent Baker