N.Y. Times Magazine Publishes Charge That McCain's a Phony POW

Liberals were outraged in 2004 when they nominated Sen. John Kerry, who by the way, served in Vietnam, and some veterans who served with him on Swift Boats had the audacity to challenge his war heroism. So how will they greet cranky old leftist author Gore Vidal who does some "swift boating" of his own in the Sunday New York Times Magazine? Interviewer Deborah Solomon talked to the "literary lion" about John McCain, and Vidal suggested the "rumor" of McCain’s heroism should be so questioned, we might even doubt he actually served time as a POW:

And what about Mr. McCain? Disaster. Who started this rumor that he was a war hero? Where does that come from, aside from himself? About his suffering in the prison war camp?Everyone knows he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. That’s what he tells us.Why would you doubt him? He’s a graduate of Annapolis. I know a lot of the Annapolis breed. Remember, I’m West Point, where I was born. My father went there.So what does that have to do with the U.S. Naval Academy down in Annapolis? The service universities keep track of each other, that’s all. They have views about each other. And they are very aware of social class and eventually money, since they usually marry it.

So Vidal is suggesting that McCain is so favored by the service-academy elite that they made up a story about him being imprisoned for five-plus years? Why would the New York Times choose to publish this bizarre charge? Do they consider it "fair game"? Please remember pages like this when the New York Times tries to argue that some commercial a conservative 527 makes is completely beyond the pale. They have taken a charge that most television stations would refuse to air in an advertisement and splashed it across their own Sunday paper. But then, Vidal was just getting warmed up. Then he suggested William F. Buckley was roasting in Hell:

In 1968, during the Nixon-Humphrey race, you became the voice of liberalism in a series of televised debates with William Buckley. Any plans to be a pundit at the coming presidential conventions? No.How did you feel when you heard that Buckley died this year? I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.

When Buckley died, many liberal media outlets less than generously recalled the TV clip of how Buckley promised to pound Vidal's face when he suggested Buckley was a fascist. This reminds us that Deborah Solomon interviewed Buckley a few years back, with less deference than Vidal received (even as he spun wild tales about how McCain was only a POW in our minds). She won the Damn Those Conservatives Award on our 2004 Best of Notable Quotables ballot. Buckley must have regretted accepting this interview:

"You have made so many offensive comments over the years. Do you regret any of them?""You seem indifferent to suffering. Have you ever suffered yourself?"

Imagine how these could have been tossed at Vidal, with more effect.(HT: Dan Gainor)

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis