Williams Channels Fret Kerry Waited to Answer 'Swiftboating'

Hailing 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry's Wednesday night address to the Democratic convention “the toughest speech” by “perhaps the most forceful speaker so far,” one in which Kerry denounced the “Swiftboating” of Barack Obama, NBC anchor Brian Williams channeled the liberal view, which he described merely as that of “people watching tonight,” that Kerry lost in 2004 because he didn't take on the presumed unfair “Swiftboating” attacks against him four years ago. The first question from Williams to Kerry during NBC's 10 PM EDT prime time hour of coverage:
I don’t need to tell you, people watching tonight were, you can answer this before I do, saying, “Sure, now, he took on 'Swiftboating’ in his speech tonight, but not when he ran for President.”
Kerry vociferously rejected the premise, then agreed with it, before he rejected it again as he credited newspapers with writing “the truth” about how he was smeared:
But we did actually. That’s not true. We took it on. The problem we made was a miscalculation about the truth being out there. We thought enough had been done. And the mistake we made was not spending enough money to answer the lies. We should have done that. I accept responsibility for that. But believe me, we answered it. Countless newspapers wrote the truth.
Williams didn't pose any tough questions to Kerry, cuing him up a few minutes later: “Where do you rank the folks that surround Senator Obama, this organization compared to all those you’ve seen in politics?”

(In contrast, in the previous hour on FNC, Sean Hannity pressed 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis to identify some achievements by Barack Obama: “What are his major, specific accomplishments?”)

From about 12 minutes into the 10 PM EDT hour of NBC on Wednesday, August 27, as provided to me by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Senator Kerry, thank you for being with us. I don’t need to tell you, people watching tonight were, you can answer this before I do, saying, “Sure, now, he took on ‘Swiftboating’ in his speech tonight, but not when he ran for President.”

JOHN KERRY: But we did actually. That’s not true. We took it on. The problem we made was a miscalculation about the truth being out there. We thought enough had been done. And the mistake we made was not spending enough money to answer the lies. We should have done that. I accept responsibility for that. But believe me, we answered it. Countless newspapers wrote the truth. Countless members of my crew went out and spoke the truth. And we answered it.

WILLIAMS: Tonight, you went forcefully after your colleague in the Senate, who happens to be the standard bearer for the Republican Party, John McCain. Is that going to be tough for you when you have to sit down and do Senate business?

[KERRY]

WILLIAMS: What’s your indicator that Obama-Biden will have better luck than Kerry-Edwards in what was obviously a tough election for you?

KERRY: Part of the luck was the appearance of Osama bin Laden the Friday before the election...

WILLIAMS: Where do you rank the folks that surround Senator Obama, this organization compared to all those you’ve seen in politics?
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center