Prosecute or Defend

Why is the media risking its’ own integrity to carry the water for John Kerry? Before you launch on me with accusations of conspiracies and bias, hear me out. Many politicians over time have stretched the truth, some more than others. In fact most people believe that if a candidate has their mouth open lies are coming forth. What concerns me more than the little white lies that sometimes get told is the media’s response to them. Some candidates are given a free pass while others are put under intense scrutiny. The side of the aisle you are on determines what role the media will play.

For example, the military records of President George W. Bush. Questions arose as to the extent that he fulfilled his obligations under the Texas Air National Guard. The president came forward, explained events and released the records that pertain to that period in time. Members of the media pounced on the story and would not let it go. Even after all the information was out there, the story lingered. Just look at what a few in the press had to say:

" The White House did release some of what it called newly discovered documents today. But as CBS's John Roberts reports, it did not put the issue to rest. - Dan Rather (CBS Evening News 2/10/04)

"Officials hoped the release of Mr. Bush's dental records would end the matter, but the dentist who treated him has no specific recollection of seeing the future President" - John Roberts (CBS Evening News 2/12/04)
"Even with these new records which describe Mr. Bush as an exceptionally fine young pilot and officer, there are still some gaps the White House has yet to fill in." John Roberts (CBS Evening News 2/13/04)

Notice if you will it was the press putting the ball into President Bush's court to prove to them that there were no issues of truthfulness. The same standard cannot be said about allegations against John Kerry.

Now let's take a look at the flipside. A group of former Vietnam Vets has come forward claiming that Kerry is lying about parts of his service record in Vietnam. Glenn Reynold's has done a spectacular job pointing this out as well. As media watchdog Brent Bozell points out:

By now, most of America has heard of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and their book, titled "Unfit for Command," quickly rose to #1 at Amazon.com. Talk radio is chewing it over from coast to coast. Cable news viewers have watched a number of debates with these Kerry comrades on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. But if you were to receive all of your news from Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, you wouldn’t know one solitary thing about them. The censorship has been complete.

On "Fox News Sunday," long-time TV journalist Brit Hume had a different take on the Swift Vets book: "It is full of detail. It is full of specifics. The charges that are being made of Kerry, of irresponsible and indeed in some cases mendacious conduct in his service in Vietnam, are made by people who were there. They're making the charges in their own names... this isn't a bunch of anonymous people whispering things. It's all out there in the open. The book is full of footnotes. It has an appendix. It's a pretty serious piece of work." He declared it deserved as much attention as the piles of February media stories on Bush’s service.

Kerry has been caught in fibs on his Vietnam service – for example, how the anti-Kerry veterans exposed his long-standing claim that he was serving in Cambodia during Christmas in 1968, a claim contradicted by the facts. Yet the media still just whistle right past it, even as Kerry admits error and Douglas Brinkley prepares another correction for his paperback edition.

Our media aren’t judging the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth based on the quality of their facts. They’re judging them on the seriousness of their threat to the media’s ultimate goal: putting John Kerry in the White House.

Take into account yet another example of this shameless excuse for journalism. This time it is the Washington Post. Look at how quickly the Post got to work on discrediting former veteran Larry Thurlow who launched his own criticism of Kerry. It took less than a few days for them to find evidence against this critic. Again, the media instantly took to defending Kerry while it prosecutes President Bush.

All I am asking for is fair play. Journalists used to always be skeptical and try to expose lies when told. These days it seems to depend on what party you belong as to whether the media will play prosecutor or defender.

Posted by Timothy Perry at August 20, 2004 8:18 AM