The Boston Pajama Party
Two weeks before the Democratic National Convention, Newsweek's Evan Thomas told us to expect the media to add up to 15 points to Kerry's finishing percentage.
During the Boston convention, columnist John Tierney in the New York Times asked a sample of 153 journalists to state anonymously whether they thought Kerry or George W. Bush would be the "better president." Reporters outside the Beltway favored Kerry's brand of leadership by an eye-opening 3 to 1 margin. But the 50 or so Washington-based reporters questioned at the convention were even more lopsided, at 12 to 1 for Kerry.
That love for Kerry clearly came through in the media's fawning coverage of Boston, where the gang of delegates was so far to the left (95 percent of the delegates oppose the war in Iraq) that it's surprising they didn't throw Kerry out and nominate their first love, Howard Dean.
Reporters virtually ignored any discussion over the fringe composition of the liberal delegates, the liberal platform (abortions should be subsidized by the federal government), or the liberal menu of speakers (the members of Congress speaking in prime time had an average lifetime ACU score of less than 11 out of 100).
Truth be told, they virtually ignored anything of substance during that convention if it reflected poorly on the John-John ticket. Here's a sampling:
1. Start with the Kerry convention film adding special effects to make Kerry's heroics in Vietnam look like "Saving Private Ryan." One fellow Vietnam swift boat comrade of Kerry's, Larry Thurlow, told National Review's Byron York that Kerry has been lying: "This thing about being under intense enemy fire is a falsehood...There was no fire off either bank [of the river]. This thing about getting Jim [Rassman] out of the river under a hail of bullets with these serious injuries is totally fabricated." Network time for Thurlow: zero.
2. For months, political junkies have repeatedly seen footage of Lieutenant Kerry strolling through the jungles of Vietnam with his gun, in news stories and TV commercials. TV reporters have not found it worth reporting that Kerry had this footage shot on his own Super-8 movie camera for future use. Clay Waters of Times Watch rediscovered that Kerry told the New York Times in 2002 that he would not use his home movies for campaign purposes, a promise he has shredded all year long. The networks haven't really cared, despite their grave concern that the Bush campaign might exploit footage of Bush in World Trade Center rubble.
3. In his convention speech, Kerry declared his love for the flag: "We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever." But the cover of his furious 1971 anti-war book "The New Soldier," featured angry men shouting under an American flag turned upside down - not exactly an act of reverence for "Old Glory." But the media elite praised Kerry for his line.
4. The idea that John Kerry and John Edwards are passionately liberal was treated like some kind of mysterious - and scurrilous - Republican accusation, not a plain fact on the public record. The only liberal the TV stars could find was Ted Kennedy, and he was almost always a hero, a "liberal lion." Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama, who is every bit as liberal as Ted Kennedy, was a "centrist." Sen. Edwards, the man who wants to redistribute all the wealth until there are no longer "two Americas," was a "Southern populist." NPR even called the platform "middle of the road."
5. Al Sharpton suggested George W. Bush was a segregationist, strangely spouting that if Bush had been president in 1954, when the Supreme Court overruled school segregation, we wouldn't have Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Instead of questioning the racially divisive line, the media embraced Sharpton. On ABC, Peter Jennings liked it so much that he launched ABC's 10 P.M. hour by hailing how the Democratic convention was "energized...in no more effective way than the old-fashioned Democratic way by a truly turned-on preacher."
6. In plugging stem-cell research, Ron Reagan "Junior" insulted a vast majority of his dad's supporters by suggesting that a vote for Bush was a vote for "ignorance" and outdated theology, while the Democrats are the party of science and reason. No one fact-checked his speech, or questioned the arrogance of its tone. But NBC's Andrea Mitchell called the speech "compelling...a powerful statement from a Reagan."
It's possible that the media's soft-shoe coverage of Boston will cause voters to forget that the week occurred. But it's only a few weeks until we see how the pro-Kerry press will put down their powder puffs and pull out the flamethrowers for the GOP in New York.