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Saturday August 21, 2004

General Washington, are we in Cambodia yet?

A Chicago Tribune journalist who was a swiftie commander with J. K. 35 years ago has come out in favor of the contender. I kept reading the article to get some meat. You know, some detail. Some actual refutation of specific facts. Something the Kerry campaign has been reluctant to do. I read through it and got this:

"There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago -- three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969," he wrote in a story that appeared on the newspaper's Web site on Saturday.

"One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other."

Before now, wanting to put memories of war and killing behind him, Rood had refused all requests for interviews on the subject, including from his own newspaper. "But Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown." he wrote.

"The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us.

"It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there," he added.

At this juncture, the Kerry campaign will have to do much better than this.

UPDATE: Here is the actual Chicago Trib article (subscription required). And here is a commentary Beldar and a report by The New York Times.

Funny thing. For months and months a heavily financed 527 organization has been running ads favorable of Kerry and against Bush. You may have heard of it--it's called Nothing negative has been said. No stories about 527s. Nothing about 527s skirting the law. Then. A 527 which is against Kerry comes along with a miniscule budget and makes a huge impact. Now, all these stories. Almost like 527s never existed before the Swifties. Check out this from the New York Post:

The 527s are barred from any contact with campaigns. Most 527s are anti-Bush and have run over $50 million in TV ads attacking Bush — nearly 100 times as much as the Swift Vets, who say they've spent just $550,000 so far.

Kerry also does this:

Kerry's FEC complaint charges the Swift vets, an officially independent "527" group, illegally coordinated their ad with the Bush campaign — which both Bush and the Swift vets deny.

Imagine if the Bush campaign would have actually met with members of the swifties. Imagine the hew and cry. Read this from the Kerry website:

The East Bay for Kerry/MoveOn House party on December 7th combined the forces of two grass-roots organizations based in San Francisco East Bay Area. We had 200 guests eating, drinking, and watching the MoveOn Documentary “Uncovered” featuring Joseph Wilson and Rand Beers from the Kerry campaign.

When Teresa Heinz-Kerry arrived, she handed me a pin that read in the center: “Asses of Evil” with “Bush”, “Cheney”, “Rumsfeld” and “Ashcroft” surrounding it. She met, greeted and talked to a jam-packed room of Kerry supporters and others who came for the MoveOn documentary. Many were curious, others undecided, or belonging to other candidate camps.

Or this:

While Kerry has not been on the air anywhere since locking up the Democratic nomination March 2, two liberal interest groups - the Media Fund and the Voter Fund - have been, assailing the president and serving as the Democrats' answer to Bush.

The groups cannot legally coordinate with Kerry, but they can challenge administration policy, an indirect benefit to the Democrat.

The Media Fund is spending $5 million over the next two weeks, and MoveOn, an online activist group that has been running anti-Bush ads for months, has put up nearly $3 million. Both groups are running moderate levels of commercials in 17 states where Bush is on the air.

And this:

John Kerry today announced a significant expansion of his staff with a series of senior staff appointments across the campaign. Drawn from throughout the Democratic party, these key staff show the depth and breadth of the talent the Kerry team is deploying in its record breaking campaign to take back the White House and rebuild America.

Zach Exley joins the Internet team as Director of Online Communications and Online Organizing. He was previously the director of special projects for the and was instrumental in building the Dean campaign’s web-based organization.

Besides that, the Kerry website seems to approve of these types of 527 organizations:

Much of that energy is being harnessed by a broad coalition of groups working to try to remove Bush from the White House. Clinton administration figures such as John Podesta and Harold Ickes are spearheading several of the key operations outside the Kerry campaign.

Podesta started the Center for American Progress, a group that monitors Bush's statements and distributes critiques via e-mail; and Ickes launched the Media Fund, which channels money to anti-Bush ads. Ellen Malcolm, president of Emily's List, and Steve Rosenthal, former political director at the AFL-CIO, began Americans Coming Together, which is focused on voter mobilization this fall, while an umbrella group, America Votes, is coordinating the efforts of more than 30 reform-minded groups, including the Sierra Club.

And yet, even though the Swiftboat ads are run by the same type of groups that the Kerry campaign praises on it's website. Even though these 527s have spent orders of magnitude more money in pro Kerry ads than in pro Bush ads, all we can hear through the din (oh, and the constant reportage) is that President Bush should demand a halt to these ads.

I do not doubt the sincerity of James Rassman. However, my own experience and review of such part of the record as is available for review convinces me that Mr. Rassman is right about then Lieutenant John Kerry pulling him out of the water but wrong about Kerry heroically saving his life.

From Syracuse, NY:

The incident occurred in June 1998, when Antonio and his classmates were given an assignment to create a poster about the environment.

The Peck family accused the Baldwinsville Central School District and the Catherine McNamara Elementary School of violating Antonio's constitutional rights by censoring a poster he made because it contained a religious drawing. The family also contended the suburban Syracuse school district violated federal guidelines regarding religious expression in public schools.

Antonio submitted a crayon drawing of children picking up garbage and putting it in trash cans, a man and a woman dropping trash into a recycling bin and a picture of a globe with cutout children holding hands circling it. Off to one side was a man in a flowing robe kneeling down with both hands outstretched to the clouds above.

There were no words identifying the figure as Jesus. However, Antonio told his mother that Jesus was the only way to save the Earth. The family attends a Pentecostal church.

School officials displayed the poster, but it was folded in half so that the picture of the robed man was not visible. Teacher Susan Weichert and Principal Robert Creme objected to the poster because they said it promoted one religion over another and could offend others.

But, of course, the wheels of just grind exceedingly slowly:

JoAnne Peck said Antonio, now 12 and going into sixth grade, used to ask about the case, but hasn't in years. Peck said she doesn't talk about the case to him.

Friday August 20, 2004

Well, yesterday was the tipping point. After two weeks of ignoring the story of the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, the major media was forced to acknowledge it. Of course, most used the Kerry talking points: 1) it was the plot of dastardly Republicans 2) How dare they attack the record of a decorated war hero 3) it was the plot of dastardly Republicans 4) President Bush should denounce these ads and, most importantly 4) it was the plot of dastardly Republicans. According to an Annenberg Election Survey more than half of Americans have seen or heard about the ads by the Swift Boaters. This even though the MSM had barely (or not at all) covered the story. Annenberg claims that this is a dramatic illustration of the power of talk radio and cable news. While that is true, the growing influence of the internet has been completely discounted. In fact, it wasn't even measured. This, even though the internet (bloggers particularly) has been way ahead of both talk radio and cable news on the issue. In fact, I would claim that the internet has actually been driving the discussions on talk radio.

And bloggers, by and large, have acquitted themselves quite favorably--especially in contrast to the media elites . In fact, several publications have credited bloggers in their stories. Seems like the mainstream media has given up even the pretense of objectivity--having given up actual objectivity long ago. So, to get the whole story read internet bloggers such as Captains Quarters and Hugh Hewitt and Patterico and Instapundit and Roger L. Simon.

In fact, here's what Roger L. Simon has to say of the whole imbroglio:

It's time for bloggers to watch our backs. I'm not kidding. If the Jayson Blair Scandal resulted in a wholesale reshuffling at The New York Times, where will the Kerry/Swift Boat Vets Scandal lead? One of the most important elections of modern times hangs in the balance and we are in the middle of it .

Who'd a thunk it? Certainly not me. But consider this: the Blair Affair was about some extreme neurotic making up stories in a newspaper and getting away with it. Pathetic, but oddly excusable if you think about the nightmare of trying to get a giant paper to bed every night. The partisan obscurantist reaction to the Kerry/Swift Boat affair is completely different because it is deliberate. The mask is off the "impartiality" of the mainstream media as never before. The meetings in the editorial rooms of NYT, WaPo and LAT are not hard to imagine, the coded discussions. A war is on, ladies and gentlemen, and as with most semi-normal people involved in a war, I don't feel particularly comfortable in it - and not, obviously in this case, because I might get shot. I have friends and colleagues at those institutions. I wish them to remain so. But that cannot stop me from telling the truth. They are wrong. Their avoidance of this story was unconscionable. Their treatment of it now... as if the messenger were more important than the message... is worse.

And Instapundit says this:

Elections come and go, politicians come and go, and pretty much all of them turn out to be disappointments one way or another. But the "Fourth Estate" is a big part of the unelected Permanent Government that in many ways does more to run the country than the politicians. And it's unravelling before our very eyes, which I think is the biggest story of the election so far.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin gets kicked off Hardball by a frothing Chris Matthews for being irresponsible:

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.

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.

...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.

Here's what Matthews has to say about the subject:

One of my jobs on 'Hardball' is to cut through to the truth. Tonight on 'Hardball,' one of our guests pushed the idea that John Kerry had won his Purple Heart by deliberately shooting himself. The charge was without merit and baseless, as our guest under close questioning herself admitted. We'll keep covering the political issues and will stand up against any attempt to broadcast misinformation.

Check out the transcript and decide for yourself.

Thursday August 19, 2004

It's official. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their book "Unfit for Command" now offically exist. My personal barometer, the top-of-the-hour radio news, has mentioned the group for the past two hours now. Of course, they don't actually tell of any of the specific allegations made by the group, but they have sound bites of John Kerry fighting back:

“Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam ... Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: 'Bring it on.'

I wonder if the press will now begin to ask Senator Kerry some specific questions regarding the allegations of the swifties. Their performance to date has not been impressive:

The media will spend weeks going through pay stubs for Bush's National Guard service in Alabama in the waning days of war, but if Kerry tells them exotic tales of covert missions into Cambodia directed by Richard Nixon, they don't even bother to fact-check who was president in December 1968.

Kerry has released more service documents on his website, but questions still remain:

"I looked at that Web site and the first thing I looked at was Kerry's Silver Star citation. Guess what? It is for an action that took place in 1969, but it is signed by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman. Strangely, Lehman was secretary of the Navy from 1981 to 1987," he noted. "How could Kerry have received a citation from an official that would not be in office for 12 years?

The New York Times has also finally acknowledged the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Not that they have ever reported on any of the controversy, but they have issued an Op-ed denouncing the group as part of Politics as Usual. Of course, if you rely solely on the NYT for your news, you wouldn't know what the heck the editorial is really all about. Be that as it may, the editorial never touches on the actual, specific details of the allegations. They certainly don't mention any of the Kerry reversals and retrenchments on the details. They merely denounce those who would question John F. "Silver Star-Bronze Star-Three Purple Hearts" Kerry and his service:

It may seem outlandish to launch a campaign broadside by television ad and book flackery devoted to discrediting the respectable Vietnam War record of Senator John Kerry, who has five combat medals. But that is exactly what a Republican-financed group of partisans is doing in presenting itself as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and tattooing the Democratic presidential nominee with accusations of lying about his service and war wounds. Never in Mr. Kerry's command, but claiming to have served near enough, its members are trying to contradict the firsthand accounts of his crewmates who are vouching for his war record.

...The attack ads and the book, "Unfit for Command,'' are a visceral part of the anti-Kerry campaign in the battleground states. The assault is gaining attention, with Internet and cable television zealots debating combat minutiae and even whether Mr. Kerry enacted wartime events with his political future in mind or held secret meetings with Communists.

...Voters should also know that the group is one of the new "shadow party" efforts of supposedly independent ( but, in truth, transparently partisan) activist groups that have been set up to evade campaign laws and take advantage of nonprofits' tax breaks.

And, of course, the requisite call for the President to denounce the group:

Senator John McCain, the Vietnam hero who was smeared by one such "independent" stealth group in the 2000 campaign, has denounced the Swift Boat Veterans' attack as dishonest and dishonorable, declaring, "The Bush administration should specifically condemn the ad." So far that hasn't happened. We can only hope the senator brought the point up as he campaigned last week with Mr. Bush.

So, according to The Times, even though Senator Kerry has centered his campaign and his qualifications for office on his 4 months and 12 days of service in Vietnam, it would be outlandish to question this service. All those who would try to discredit the respectable Vietnam War record of the Democratic contender are simply a shadow party of Republican partisans and zealots. And, oh yeah, Bush should condemn the ad.

I, for one, am particularly impressed that the Kerry campaign has disavowed the honest, well-meaning folks at who have been raising questions about Bush's service record:

Kerry, to be sure, labeled as "inappropriate" Tuesday a new commercial by his shadow campaign, the far-left folks at, which accuses President Bush of having "used his father to get into the National Guard and when the chips were down went missing."

Well, sort of:

...just hours after that statement, the Kerry campaign organized a conference in which two high-profile ex-military supporters simply parroted the MoveOn commercial's line.

Bush "scrambled and used his family's influence to get out of hearing a shot fired in anger," said failed presidential candidate Wesley Clark, a former commander of NATO — who never had a problem with Bush's military record or even his policies until the ex-general decided he was destined to live in the White House.

Added Retired Adm. Stansfield Turner, Jimmy Carter's CIA director (somewhat akin to being lookout on the Titanic): "[Bush] used his family influence to get into the Air National Guard and avoid going to war."

Can Kerry lead the country when even his supporters won't follow him? Here's what he said yesterday:

The Democratic candidate, acting at the instigation of GOP Sen. John McCain, also insisted that "this should be a campaign of issues, not insults."

But then this, from Kerry supporter and campaigner, Tom Harkin:

Referring to Cheney's criticism of Kerry's record on the war on terrorism, Harkin — who was a Naval fighter pilot — declared: "When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil."

Well Tom, at least Dick Cheney didn't fabricate portions of his record.

Similar comments from Little Green Footballs:

The shameless bias of mainstream media in favor of John F. Kerry has been one of the big stories of this campaign. Case in point: the Washington Post has totally ignored the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their allegations against Kerry for weeks—until today, when they discovered a small discrepancy in one of Swiftee Larry Thurlow’s statements.

That story goes on page A01 of the Post: Records Counter a Critic of Kerry . Will WaPo readers wonder why this story suddenly pops up on the front page, when they’ve read nothing about it until today?

Ultimately, the Iranians should thank us for their improved missile navigation system. I have said in the past that the worst thing that President Clinton did during his presidency was his sellout to the Chinese. I believe we will pay dearly for this at some point in the future. This from May 1998:

This is a scandal unlike any other in American history. Clinton and Schwartz have nothing on Benedict Arnold. The sensitive technical data shared with the Chinese for simple greed and power has apparently enhanced the reliability of Beijing's long-range nuclear missiles -- missiles, by the way, targeted at the United States.

Impediments to Honest Reporting over at FrontPage Mag:

The ongoing intimidation of journalists removes the presumption that media coverage is fair and unbiased, as Jacoby writes: 'Journalists like to cultivate a reputation for fearlessness, for a publish-and-be-damned commitment to putting out the story no matter what. The reality is not always so heroic.'

I think that the Kerry campaign would do well to bring former Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry on board. He is very effective and can think on his feet. Even if you disagree with him, he is genuinely likeable.

Terror supsects arrested in Brittain:

Barot and seven other members of the suspected al-Qaida sleeper cell were in custody last night after they were charged with conspiracy to murder and other terror-related crimes. Police discovered detailed reconnaissance plans of landmark American buildings including the New York Stock Exchange, the Prudential Building in New Jersey, the International Monetary Fund in Washington and Citigroup's New York headquarters. But investigators made a more chilling find. Manuals on the use of radioactive materiel and explosives that have convinced intelligence chiefs the gang was planning to launch a dirty bomb were also found.

Wednesday August 18, 2004

After Scott Canon's piece appeared in the Kansas City Star detailing the Kerry-in-Cambodia follies, Readers Advocate Yvette Walker felt it incumbent upon her to inform readers as to why the paper took so long to report the story (although it was one of the first newspapers to do so):

"On Friday, a Google News search turned up dozens of references to the Kerry stories. Many of them were on fringe news and personal Internet pages, sites that The Star and other mainstream media don't recognize as credible by themselves. Such news must be verified, preferably with two independent sources. That doesn't always happen on Internet sites, talk radio and cable TV news shows even though such electronic media often are far ahead of other traditional news media in reporting controversy."

Hugh Hewitt takes significant umbrage (and rightly so)at this explanation:

Because Walker fails to live up to a basic standard of journalism by refusing to name the "fringe news and personal Internet pages" she is referring to, we cannot know if she is referring to the very credentialed lawyers at Powerline , Professor Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit , credentialed RNC-convention blogger Ed from Captain's Quarters , or to me, but she is telegraphing a disdain for evidence and good journalism in favor of a guild-mentality that illuminates why the Kerry-in-Cambodia stories are moving into old media so slowly.

What, exactly, did Mr. Canon report that had not been reported by the blogs a week earlier? Answer: Nothing. He did get a couple of new quotes, but no new facts were added to the mix. Since Ms. Walker states that news must be "verified, preferably with two independent sources," what sources --exactly-- did Mr. Canon use other than the material we in the blogosphere provided? My guess is none, but that Canon pestered his editor into running the story.

I think Mr. Canon did a service to the Kansas City Star readership by serving up two articles that packaged the already old news, but Ms. Walker does a disservice to those same readers by pretending that the Star had to go out there and dig, dig, dig to get the facts. Everything here is public record stuff, susceptible to anyone with decent research skills and the inclination to look. There is no magic in a newspaper's masthead that bestowed Mr. Canon's story with a legitimacy that the bloggers lacked. Pretending otherwise is just a fairy tale that folks like the Los Angeles Times' John Carroll tells himself and members of his dinosaurs club when they are feeling low over the rise of independent and very credible media that has exposed their agenda-driven "news," like today's Los Angeles Times story on the Kerry meltdown that doesn't even mention that Kerry has been obliged to retract his Christmas-Eve-in-Cambodia nonsense.

And since Ms. Walker didn't provide a full account of the discussions leading up to the release of the Canon stories, we have to conclude that the paper is wrongfully trying to claim credit for others' sleuthing --which we used to call plagiarism. If any of my students use material or ideas developed by others but which has only appeared on the web, it will still be plagiarism, even though those words or ideas never appeared in print. It is the text that matters, not the medium. I find it astonishing not that Mr. Canon wrote the stories that he did, but that he did not credit the blogosphere with generating the material that prompted his stories. Ms Walker admits that the paper's editors had asked "news wires to provide stories about statements from Kerry and the swift boat veterans," but that when "these sources were slow to act, editors felt they had to."

Good for the editors. Why not report where Mr. Canon's inspiration came from? Guild rules?

More media failings here.

This from MEMRI:

There are growing indications that Iran may be planning an attack on American soil. These indicators are not secret — they appear in speeches,newspaper articles, TV programs, and sermons in Iran by figures linked to the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other government officials, all discussing potential Iranian attacks on America, which will subsequently lead to its destruction.

A report on May 28 in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that an Iranian intelligence unit has established a center called “The Brigades of the Shahids of the Global Islamic Awakening.”The paper claimed that it had obtained a tape with a speech by Hassan Abbassi, a Revolutionary Guards intelligence theoretician who teaches at Al-Hussein University. In the tape, Mr. Abbassi spoke of Tehran’s secret plans, which include “a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization.” In order to accomplish this, he explained,“There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.”

Brittish woman hit by meteorite.

Well, not exactly "no phones, no lights, no motorcars", but Larry Smith does have to give up quite a bit as he lives 10 days with only 1954 technology:

The rules didn't demand that I pretend the year was actually 1954. I didn't have to call people "cat" or wear a gray flannel suit. I simply couldn't employ technology that wasn't available and reasonably affordable half a century ago. Obviously, my cellphone, Sonicare toothbrush, DVD player and two computers were out. I embarked on a search for a new winter jacket, as mine was made of synthetic microfibers not on the market in 1954.1 The Post-it notes2 that litter my desk had to go. The Cuisinart (née 1973), which lives a lonely life under my sink, could stay right there. While I could still use charge cards (the Diners Club card, introduced in 1950, ushered in a new age of credit--by 1952 it was accepted by thousands of merchants), my ATM card would have to be retired.

Tuesday August 17, 2004

Disdain for President Bush and regard for Senator Kerry is pervasive and widespread in the mainstream media. This is clearly and conclusively shown, with both anecdotal and empirical evidence. A recent example is from the Unity conference of minority journalists, where both Bush and Kerry spoke, albeit to vastly different receptions:

When more than 7,000 minority journalists came together last week for the UNITY: Journalists of Color convention, one felt a sense of pride. But after a sudden outburst of partisan politics, pride gave way to embarrassment.

...Kerry spoke first and was received enthusiastically. Both before and after his remarks, most of the audience gave him a standing ovation. The speech itself was interrupted by applause several dozen times. And the audience didn’t seem to mind that Kerry dodged tough questions — such as when a representative of the Asian American Journalists Association asked him if Democrats don’t take the support of minorities for granted. Answer: Of course they do. And you’re about to see why.

At times, I felt I was attending a political rally rather than a meeting of professionals in a news-gathering business that stresses the need for impartiality and objectivity. After Kerry’s remarks, some audience members approached the senator for autographs. .Remember, these are journalists we’re talking about. With the exception of opinion writers, journalists are supposed to be objective, impartial and fair. Their job is to be referees, not cheerleaders for one team or another.

...Some of the journalists stood when Bush entered the room, but nowhere near as many as had stood for Kerry. Throughout Bush’s prepared remarks — which touched on both domestic and national security issues — there was only a smattering of applause from around the hall. Most of what he said the audience seemed to dismiss without hearing.

And this:

"Those of us who sat there, surprised and semi-horrified, kept asking ourselves why. Why would journalists, who presumably prize their objectivity and believe in their newsrooms' ethics codes, put their biases on display on C-SPAN?" asked Helen Ubinas of the Hartford Courant yesterday.

So it should be no surprise that the mainstream media (who overwhelming favor Kerry) would refrain from looking too closely at allegations which would hurt Kerry's chances. If you read the internet or watch Fox News you probably know about Kerry's Cambodian Fantasy. If you rely on the MSM (i.e. ABCCBSNBCPBSNPR or NYTLATWAPO) you may have missed it. It seems that many reporters are uncurious as Lee Cearnal writes:

The same news media that demanded George W. Bush release his National Guard records — and went over them with a microscope — have shown an appalling lack of interest in John Kerry's military service. And as it turns out, there are far more legitimate questions about the latter than the former.

...As to the truth of this tale, there is only Kerry's word, which the press seems quite willing to take, to the extent of not reporting on the controversy at all. It is not a trivial matter. Kerry has pimped the story repeatedly in an effort to paint himself as a stand-up eyewitness to events that were both illegal and, in his view, immoral.

Read Lee's whole article--a good synopsis of the story. And just how vociferously did the press to after GWB and his National Guard service? Well, the New England Republican is all over it and provides a transcript of a White House press briefing where reporters are aggressively hounding press secretary Scott McClellan. Here are a few snippets which give a flavor of the overall tone and tenacity of the reporters:

Scott, that wasn't my question, and you know it wasn't my question. Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73? And why did he not fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?

I asked a simple question; how about a simple answer?

Even after the President released his payroll records which showed that he has served, they still wanted additional corroboration:

One other thing on this. To corroborate these records, will the President do two things -- one, will he authorize the relevant defense agency in Colorado to release actual pay stubs for the President? And if those don't exist, will the President file a form, as he can do at the IRS, to at least look for a '72 or '73 tax return that would corroborate what you claim are payroll summaries that he actually got paid for this duty?

I especially like this one:

Scott, when Senator Kerry goes around campaigning, there's frequently what they call "a band of brothers," a bunch of soldiers who served with him, who come forward and give testimonials for him. I see, in looking at our files in the campaign of 2000, it said that you were looking for people who served with him to verify his account of service in the National Guard. Has the White House been able to find, like Senator Kerry, "a band of brothers" or others who can testify about the President's service?

Can you imagine the press asking Kerry a question like this?

You keep saying this is a shame, and you're talking partisan politics, but don't you think the American public, as well, particularly the U.S. military, who has been tested right now with the fact that they went to war on faulty intelligence, possibly, and now finding out that their Commander-in-Chief possibly tried to avoid going to the Vietnam War -- don't you think that the American public is owed a little bit more than photo copies that we can't see things of? Don't you think the military is owed a little bit more than just, "he served"?

Back to Cambodia. The internet has been abuzz over the topic for over a week now. Captains Quarters , Hugh Hewitt and Powerline Blog have been blogging away. Yet, until very recently, the elites have been strangely quiet. A few articles have been written in the past couple days, although with a decidedly Kerry slant. Paterico dissects the LA Times efforts to spin the story:

The article is pro-Kerry spin, pure and simple. The strategy of the article is apparent: before actually setting forth a single detail of the Swift Boat Vets' allegations, the article carefully lays the groundwork to prepare the reader to be skeptical. The article accomplishes this in multiple ways -- many of them misleading, and all of them prime examples of the fine art of slanted rhetoric.

First, the allegations are described early on as "staples of conservative talk shows and Internet sites" -- code language telling readers that the allegations need not be taken seriously.

The story then uses several misleading turns of phrase to suggest that the veterans really don't know what they're talking about, and that Kerry has been forthright about his Vietnam experience:

"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".

The article doesn't say that "[w]hat military documentation exists and has been made public" is only what John Kerry has chosen to make public. In fact, John Kerry persistently refuses to release his complete military records. Yet, far from acknowledging this fact, the story falsely suggests that Kerry has released all of his records:

"The Kerry campaign has launched a vociferous defense, denying the charges raised in the ad. It also denounced the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as a Republican-backed effort. His staff has directed critics to the Massachusetts senator's military records, which have been posted on his website".

This creates an entirely false impression. Unless a dramatic change has occurred in the last few hours, Kerry's complete military records are not on his site. This is wildly deceptive.

An he goes on to make several more salient points about what is, ostensibly, allegedly, a straight news piece. Joan Venocchi, of the Boston Globe, editorializes thusly:

There is something ridiculous about a president without credibility attacking his opponent's credibility.But ridiculous as it may be, Kerry ignores the attack at his peril. If Bush and Kerry are both liars, it gives voters a reason to rationalize sticking with Bush.

Bush is the known purveyor of false information. He is the president who convinced a nation to wage war because, as he told us, Iraq represented an imminent threat to America. He is the president who invaded another country on the basis of bad intelligence or bad faith -- it doesn't really matter which. Either scenario explains why people don't trust the administration's terror warnings. Bush's current state of political vulnerability is a direct product of the nation's collective skepticism about him and his administration. Based on their track record, there is precious little reason to trust them on anything.

Kerry offers the promise of a credible voice speaking truth to Americans and the world. Therefore, Bush's one hope for reelection rests in changing that perception about Kerry. The incumbent must somehow turn this election into a choice between liars. That's what the Bush campaign is doing via the book, "Unfit for Command," written by the Vietnam veterans who question Kerry's actions in the war, and via a Willie Horton-like television commercial by those same vets that has been denounced by Democrats and Republicans alike. However, having surrogates denounce an ad and question the motives of the attackers does not necessarily diminish their effectiveness. There are two lines of attack: the first is that Kerry does not deserve his war medals; the second raises doubts about past statements Kerry made about being in Cambodia on Christmas Eve in 1968.

Venocchi is wrong on several counts here. These "attacks" as she characterizes them, are not from Bush or the Bush campaign. They are from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. (Just as an aside, does it really not matter whether it was "bad intelligence or bad faith"? Really?). And the SBVFT are not "surrogates" of President Bush. Would Venocchi portray Michael Moore as a "surrogate" of Kerry? After all, Kerry gave MM a seat at the table at the DNC Convention. But, Venocchi follows a strategy much like that employed at the LA Times--discredit the accusers (although she didn't get the correct accusers) before even presenting the details.

Hugh Hewitt says that the reporting (non-reporting, really) of this whole episode speaks volumes about the viability of the old media:

How odd for papers to carry opinion pieces relating to controversies that their readers have never read about in those papers, but which the opinion pieces presume they have heard or read about elsewhere. In fact, the secondary nature of the old media is becoming quite obvious. Reporters, pundits, talking heads etc all know about the magic hat and the now discredited claims of Christmas Eve in Cambodia. Most of them know that Douglas Brinkley also raised the stakes last week by citing three or four missions to Cambodia with SEALs, Green Berets, and CIA men, and that Brinkley must have gathered info on those missions from the Kerry journals. Other shoes will drop soon, and the papers are fighting the battle of two weeks ago. Very weird, but very revealing of why the papers are dying and why some of them, like the Los Angeles Times, cannot add market share even with a monopoly position in their markets --they have nothing to sell to anyone not part of their ideological world.

Finally, Neal Boortz has this:

So .. how about an investigation? The media was quick to demand an investigation into Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Where are the demands for investigations into Kerry's war record? The winner of this election is going to command our armed forces as we fight Islamic terrorism over the next four years. Don't we want to know if John Kerry is at least being honest about the wars he's already fought?

No investigation? OK .. how about some interviews? How many of these Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have you seen on the morning shows?

May I be so bold as to suggest that one possible reason for the media's silence on this issue is that they suspect that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth might actually be telling the truth? Call for an investigation? Are you kidding? Why promote a story that would defeat your candidate?