August 24, 2004

LA Times Editorial: These Charges are False...

Although this LAT editorial is rather self-serving and
disingenuous about what is going on in newsrooms these
days, it is nevertheless significant in its moral force and refreshing in its lack of ambiguity. It both reveals human decency and clarity of mind.
Unfortunately, both qualties are rare in the "US
mainstream news media."

LA Times Editorial: More important, either man could
shut down the groups working on his behalf if he
wanted to. Kerry has denounced the MoveOn ads, with
what degree of sincerity we can't know. Bush on Monday
finally called for all ads by independent groups
on both sides to be halted. He also said Kerry had
"served admirably" in Vietnam. But he declined an
invitation to condemn the Swift boat effort.
In both cases, the candidates are the reason the
groups are in business. There is an important
difference, though, between the side campaign being
run for Kerry and the one for Bush. The pro-Kerry
campaign is nasty and personal. The pro-Bush campaign
is nasty, personal and false.
No informed person can seriously believe that
Kerry fabricated evidence to win his military medals
in Vietnam. His main accuser has been exposed as
having said the opposite at the time, 35 years ago.
Kerry is backed by almost all those who witnessed the
events in question, as well as by documentation. His
accusers have no evidence except their own dubious
word.
Not limited by the conventions of our colleagues
in the newsroom, we can say it outright: These charges
against John Kerry are false. Or at least, there is no
good evidence that they are true. George Bush, if he
were a man of principle, would say the same thing.

Cleanse the White House of the Chicken Hawk Coup, Show
Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/082504Z.shtml

These Charges are False...
Los Angeles Times | Editorial

Tuesday 25 August 2004

It's one thing for the presidential campaign to get
nasty but quite another for it to engage in
fabrication.
The technique President Bush is using against John
F. Kerry was perfected by his father against Michael
Dukakis in 1988, though its roots go back at least to
Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It is: Bring a charge, however
bogus. Make the charge simple: Dukakis "vetoed the
Pledge of Allegiance"; Bill Clinton "raised taxes 128
times"; "there are [pick a number] Communists in the
State Department." But make sure the supporting
details are complicated and blurry enough to prevent
easy refutation.

Then sit back and let the media do your work for
you. Journalists have to report the charges, usually
feel obliged to report the rebuttal, and often even
attempt an analysis or assessment. But the canons of
the profession prevent most journalists from saying
outright: These charges are false. As a result, the
voters are left with a general sense that there is
some controversy over Dukakis' patriotism or Kerry's
service in Vietnam. And they have been distracted from
thinking about real issues (like the war going on now)
by these laboratory concoctions.

It must be infuriating to the victims of this
process to be given conflicting advice about how to
deal with it from the same campaign press corps that
keeps it going. The press has been telling Kerry: (a)
Don't let charges sit around unanswered; and (b) stick
to your issues: Don't let the other guy choose the
turf.

At the moment, Kerry is being punished by the
media for taking advice (b) and failing to take advice
(a). There was plenty of talk on TV about what Kerry's
failure to strike back said about whether he had the
backbone for the job of president and even when he
did strike back, he was accused of not doing it soon
enough. But what does Bush's acquiescence in the use
of this issue say about whether he has the simple
decency for the job of president?

Whether the Bush campaign is tied to the Swift
boat campaign in the technical, legal sense that
triggers the wrath of the campaign-spending reform law
is not a very interesting question. The ridiculously
named Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is being funded by
conservative groups that interlock with Bush's world
in various ways, just as MoveOn.org, which is running
nasty ads about Bush's avoidance of service in
Vietnam, is part of Kerry's general milieu.

More important, either man could shut down the
groups working on his behalf if he wanted to. Kerry
has denounced the MoveOn ads, with what degree of
sincerity we can't know. Bush on Monday finally
called for all ads by independent groups on both sides
to be halted. He also said Kerry had "served
admirably" in Vietnam. But he declined an invitation
to condemn the Swift boat effort.

In both cases, the candidates are the reason the
groups are in business. There is an important
difference, though, between the side campaign being
run for Kerry and the one for Bush. The pro-Kerry
campaign is nasty and personal. The pro-Bush campaign
is nasty, personal and false.

No informed person can seriously believe that
Kerry fabricated evidence to win his military medals
in Vietnam. His main accuser has been exposed as
having said the opposite at the time, 35 years ago.
Kerry is backed by almost all those who witnessed the
events in question, as well as by documentation. His
accusers have no evidence except their own dubious
word.

Not limited by the conventions of our colleagues
in the newsroom, we can say it outright: These charges
against John Kerry are false. Or at least, there is no
good evidence that they are true. George Bush, if he
were a man of principle, would say the same thing.

Posted by richard at August 24, 2004 11:51 AM