During the noon hour of the July 8 "MSNBC News Live," host Tamron Hall discussed McCain's new TV ad with Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman and Washington Post’s Kevin Merida. The ad focused on McCain's time as a POW as demonstrative of his love of country and Hall questioned how Obama could compete with such a story.
Well, look, Senator McCain's got this great story about what he survived and what he endured and his campaign wants to tell that story as much as possible because they think that that's something voters respect and it gives them a sense of what he’s made of. But Senator Obama’s got a great American success story, too, and it’s just a different one and I think voters are equally impressed with what he’s all about.
So, the story of a man who never served in the military but was a community organizer and graduated from Harvard Law is "different" but just as impressive as the story of a man who was a prisoner of war, tortured by his Communist captors and refused special treatment in order to stay with his fellow servicemen in prison?
Although the term isn't used, it's clear that the Obama campaign sees itself and their candidate as victims of a vast conspiracy of right-wingers.
Going all the way back to the 1988 presidential election, Obama's "Fight the Smears" chart (featuring the campaign's new sort-of "presidential seal," replacing the one that was "dropped," at the top left) purports to tell us "Who's Behind These Lies."
If the page's historical starting points are any indication, to paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, there may not be "a whole lotta smearin' goin' on" among the current "smearing" parties it identifies:
Tuesday's New York Times report by Jeff Zeleny, "Campaign Flashpoints: Patriotism and Service" covered the back and forth between the McCain and Obama camps over a controversial comment by retired general and Obama adviser Wesley Clark about McCain's lack of qualifications to be president.
In response to a question by Bob Schieffer on the CBS Sunday talk show "Face the Nation," Clark said of John McCain, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
But Zeleny also put heavy emphasis on fact-checking what he considers unfair attacks on Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama arrived here in Independence, the home of President Harry S. Truman, to open a weeklong patriotism tour. He sought to explain and defend his American ideals to ward off skepticism and silence persistent rumors about his loyalties to the nation.
ABC correspondent John Berman used a report on Tuesday's "Good Morning America" to whine about the fact that Barack Obama has had to defend himself against serious charges. He opened the segment by commenting on a series of speeches the Democrat is giving that tout patriotism and lamented, "Well, you would think a man elected to the U.S. Senate, who is the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, would not feel a need to defend his love for America."
Berman's colleague, GMA co-host Robin Roberts, interviewed Obama surrogate General Wesley Clark and actually grilled him about his assertion that John McCain's Vietnam-era military service isn't a credential to be president. However, she credulously accepted the attempts by the Democratic nominee to disavow himself from the attack, saying, "...The McCain and Obama camps are divided on most things but they have agreed on one, that the comment by retired General Wesley Clark was out of line..."
On June 24, however, Roberts discussed remarks made by Charlie Black, an aide to Senator McCain, in which Mr. Black claimed that a terrorist attack would help the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. In this instance, she was far more cynical. Roberts speculated, "Almost immediately, we had apologies from McCain and Charlie Black, but is this the kind of thing that a campaign puts out there on purpose and then retracts?"
John McCain's first major television ad of the general election campaign is an apparent attempt to inoculate himself from criticism of his support of the Iraq War by underlining the fact that War Is Hell. New York Times reporter Julie Bosman used the opportunity (in the paper's regular Ad Campaign feature on Saturday) to suggest from out of nowhere that McCain had a "warmonger" reputation to live down.
With all of the videos of Barack Obama’s pastor problems and gaffes, it’s no wonder the liberal media are afraid of what conservative 527 groups will do with them.
A June 9 article entitled “Decency in D.C.” and featured in the “local news” section of the Boston Globe, columnist Kevin Cullen decried the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) – the group which ran ads against Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004 – as liars and all that is wrong with Washington, D.C.
Perhaps still sore from the 2004 election, and taking a cue from Media Matters, Cullen claimed, “And, the best part is, if [the Swift Boat Vets] can't find any videotape in which [Rev.] Wright actually says anything remotely as outrageous, they'll just make it up.”
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed to mock John McCain's military service as he quipped that McCain was "awol" for not showing up for a Senate vote on providing college tuition to American troops, and further accused McCain, whom he called "Senator 'I Support the Troops,'" of "supporting himself instead of the troops." The MSNBC host also mocked McCain as being at the "front lines" of a fund-raiser in California. Notably, just a few weeks ago, Olbermann thought it was amusing to scold Ann Coulter for making a crack about Barack Obama being a "Manchurian candidate" because it might remind people of McCain, even though it was Olbermann, not Coulter, who drew a connection as he observed that the film The Manchurian Candidate was about a "presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia." (Video of Olbermann's "Manchurian Candidate" comments can be found here.) (Transcripts follow)
Matt Bai, a major contributing writer for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, described John McCain's service in Vietnam in his big cover profile, "The McCain Doctrines," by suggesting that McCain's five years spent isolated in a POW camp meant he didn't learn the correct liberal lessons from the Vietnam War, resulting in his support for the Iraq War.
While the Times found Sen. John Kerry's service in Vietnam gave him credibility on his opposition to the Iraq War, McCain's five years spent isolated in a POW camp has evidently cursed him with the narrow perspective of America, right or wrong.
Explaining why McCain still supports the Iraq War, Bai wrote:
Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia managed to smear both McCain and fighter pilots in general when he told his home state paper, The Charleston Gazette, on Monday that:
"McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."
Phillips led off with Rockefeller's apology, not his offensive comments, then moved quickly on to his endorsement and praise of Obama.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV personally apologized to Senator John McCain of Arizona on Tuesday after remarking in an interview that Mr. McCain's years as a Navy fighter pilot would not have given him an understanding of everyday issues faced by Americans.
And conservative blogs and television commentators accuse Mr. Obama of all manner of unpatriotic derelictions....Mr. McCain, for his part, lobbed a few shots over the weekend into the Democratic Party ranks.
If either Democrat withdrew troops from Iraq as proposed, he said in a speech Saturday night before the Republican Governors Association in Washington, Al Qaeda would "celebrate to the world that they have defeated the United States of America."
January 23, Gothamist blogger John Del Signore claimed “rape and torture” are “institutional” in the US military, which “at times condoned and encouraged” “atrocities...genocide" and "butchery.” He said the events aren't isolated, they're “the few war crimes we actually know about” and happen with “increasing frequency during prolonged occupations.”
Del Signore profiled a theater class on military techniques taught by Iraq vet and milblogger (Just Another Soldier) Jason C. Hartley. Del Signore's initial remarks seemed like typical lefty snideness, but in the comment section, they quickly descended into rabid anti-military rhetoric (bold mine throughout):
Did you hear about that challenge famed oilman T. Boone Pickens made on November 6 when he offered $1 million to anyone that could disprove even one charge made against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?
Like most people that weren't at the American Spectator dinner the evening Pickens made the offer, you probably didn't learn about this until Kerry accepted the challenge ten days later.
I guess that's when media outlets figured it was news, for at that point, they circled the wagons, and jumped all over a story that had gone totally ignored for nine days.
As reported by the Associated Press Friday (h/t Dan Gainor):
On CBS’s "Sunday Morning" this past weekend, reporter Martha Teichner did a profile of recently deceased ultra left-wing author, Norman Mailer, who she described as "... a hell of a big man for a short guy, scrappy, brilliant, controversial. Slugging away at life and letters until the very end." Of course, this was the same Norman Mailer that said of the World Trade Center in October 2001: "Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed."
Later Teichner remarked that "Mailer was unapologetically liberal, anti-war, anti-Nixon, anti-establishment." Well, he certainly was "anti-establishment" when he said to a "London Telegraph" reporter in February 2002, "America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself...The right wing benefitted so much from September 11 that, if I were still a conspiratorialist, I would believe they'd done it."
At another point, Teichner observed that "Norman Mailer loved playing the political provocateur." That proved true when in 2003, Mailer asserted to the "London Times" that, "Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in...."
During an interview by "GQ" magazine's Wil Hylton posted on the magazine's blog on September 20, CNN founder Ted Turner blamed Fox News for pushing America into the Iraq war, tagging the conflict as "Rupert's war," and contended that he is more afraid of America's possession of nuclear weapons than he is of rogue states like Iran obtaining such weapons. Turner: "I'm much more worried about our nuclear arsenal than theirs. Iran, at best, can get a few nuclear weapons. We have tens of thousands. We have to get rid of them." The CNN founder, who has a history of defending North Korea, ignoring the country's problem of starvation, complimented its "thin" citizens as "healthy," and suggested the despotic regime is of no more danger to America than Cleveland, Ohio. Turner: "They were nice to me. There weren't a lot of fat people walking around. They were all thin. And being thin is healthier than being fat. ...
The unidentified substance that was found splashed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial earlier this month was the result of vandalism, the U.S. Park Police said today.
Sgt. Robert Lachance, a spokesman for the Park Police, said the investigation into the incident is continuing, but the detective on the case had ruled it an act of vandalism. Lachance said he could provide no more details because the probe is still underway.
The New York Times is determined to minimize any political traction Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani gets for his leadership after 9-11. Marc Santora's Monday "Political Memo," "In Campaign Year, Invoking 9/11 Raises New Debates," suggested Giuliani is misleading voters by breaking some kind of promise not to talk about his leadership as mayor of New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"During a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, Rudolph W. Giuliani asserted, 'The reality is that I'm not running on what I did on Sept. 11.'
"Two days later, a crowd of nearly 1,000 filed into a ballroom here for a 9/11 Remembrance Luncheon. Graphic images of the exploding towers, dust-covered survivors and even a series of photos that showed someone leaping from a tower were flashed on two giant screens flanking the stage where Mr. Giuliani was about to speak.
"'America must never forget the lessons of Sept. 11,' Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, later told the crowd.
In a “Web-exclusive” commentary posted Thursday, Newsweek Senior Editor Michael Hirsh ridiculed President George W. Bush's warning that a precipitous pull-out from Iraq could lead to the humanitarian horrors that followed the American pull-out from Vietnam. Recalling a trip he made to Vietnam in 1991, Hirsh reported that he found a nation looking to the West and capitalism, adding that “today Vietnam remains” only “nominally communist.” He then snidely asserted: “This was the 'harsh' aftermath that George W. Bush attempted to describe this week when he warned against pulling out of Iraq as we did in Vietnam.” James Taranto, in his Friday “Best of the Web Today” posting for OpinionJournal.com, asked: “Could that last sentence be any more disingenuous? To Hirsh, the 'aftermath' of America's withdrawal from Vietnam didn't begin until 1991, more than 16 years after Saigon fell. About events between 1975 and 1991, he has only this to say: 'Yes, a lot of Vietnamese boat people died on the high seas; but many others have returned to visit in the ensuing years.'”
To that, Taranto astutely observed: “Never mind Vietnam's and Laos's 're-education' camps; never mind Cambodia's killing fields. It is as if one visited West Germany in 1960, found a prosperous democracy, and reached positive conclusions about the 'aftermath' of Nazi rule. It misses the point by a light-year.”
In the wake of President George W. Bush's reminder Wednesday about how the “killing fields” of Cambodia followed the 1975 U.S. pullout from Vietnam and the region, a look back at a study, by William C. Adams and Michael Joblove, which documented how from 1975 to 1978 the three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as the New York Times and Washington Post, virtually ignored the ongoing massacre of millions by the Khmer Rouge. Below is an excerpt, fairly lengthy since I can't imagine this is online anywhere else, from the MRC's 1990 book, “And That's the Way It Isn't: A Reference Guide to Media Bias.” The excerpt starts with a summary and then key findings from the study published in 1982:
The xenophobic reign of terror by the Marxist Khmer Rouge from April 1975 to January 1979 in Cambodia was as brutal as that of any in history. Up to three million Cambodians died of starvation, torture or execution. But despite what George Washington University professor William Adams and research associate Michael Joblove called "the barbarism and the magnitude of the tragedy," major media outlets in the U.S. paid little attention to the tragic events.
The broadcast network evening news shows on Wednesday night pounced on President Bush's reminder that the U.S. pullout from Vietnam led to millions being killed, as all three shows featured historians to discredit Bush's parallel to what may happen if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, and NBC portrayed Bush as hypocritical for raising Vietnam after earlier rejecting comparisons to Iraq as a Vietnam-like quagmire. Only ABC, leading into Bush recalling “killing fields,” showed a picture of stacks of skulls and ABC also uniquely featured two Vietnam vets who backed Bush's case.
NBC anchor Brian Williams asserted that “after years of rejecting any comparisons to Vietnam, today President Bush invoked the Vietnam War as a way of saying the U.S. must stay the course and not pull out.” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell noted that “after years of pushback rejecting the Vietnam-Iraq comparison, today in Kansas City, before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the President made a turn and embraced his own Vietnam analogy.” O'Donnell insisted: “Mr. Bush's comments to the VFW today contrast with what he said last year when asked if he saw an Iraq-Vietnam connection.” Viewers then got just this very short soundbite from Bush at a June 14, 2006 press conference: “I don't see the parallels.” Contrary to NBC's implication, there is no conflict between scorning of a liberal comparison of Iraq to a Vietnam-like quagmire and suggesting other lesson about Vietnam.
The New York Times front-page "News Analysis" by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Rutenberg delved into President Bush's dissatisfaction with Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and his failure to bring Sunnis and Shiites together politically -- and strangely finds Bush "already facing skepticism" about the troop surge in Iraq (um, didn't that surge start some months ago?)
"It was not quite the vote of no confidence delivered by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who on Monday said Mr. Maliki should quit. But it was a striking attempt by the White House to distance itself from the Maliki government before September, when the president’s troop buildup faces an intense review on Capitol Hill.
The media love comparing Iraq to the Vietnam War. So why didn't Reuters relate Iraq to this July 31 story about a joint Cambodian-UN tribunal that charged one of Pol Pot's top henchmen with crimes against humanity related to the deaths of 1.7 million people in that country's “Killing Fields?”
They also like to link America's actions to unpleasant world events. So why not even mention how the US pulling out of Vietnam and Congress halting aid to Vietnam and Cambodia, allowed the rise of Pol Pot's brutal and deadly communist Khmer Rouge regime that killed, tortured and displaced millions? Maybe take it a step further and connect it to what might happen if the US follows the wishes of many Democrats and withdraws from Iraq too soon?
The tribunal charged Duch with the deaths of 1.7 million people after confessing to “committing multiple atrocities during this (sic) time as head of the capital's notorious Tuol Sleng or S-21 interrogation center.” (emphasis mine throughout):
THIS is CNN in 1998; the link is to a story debunking the network's Peter Arnett and April Oliver, who accused Vietnam soldiers of war crimes in Operation Tailwind.
This is from 2003. The network's Eason Jordan confessed that the network twisted the news out of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, thereby giving false impressions of the regime to the world so that it could maintain its access to the country (the article is posted at the author's web host for fair use and discussion purposes).
Then there's this from 2005. Eason Jordan accused the US military in Iraq of targeting journalists, and ultimately resigned in the wake of the outcry. "Somehow" the actual video footage of Jordan's accusations, made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, never surfaced.
Friday's CBS Evening News plugged its special on Walter Cronkite with a story, as introduced by Katie Couric, about a "journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief" during a time of "another unpopular war," as Couric was transitioning from a story about the debate over Iraq War funding. Couric was referring to Cronkite's decision in February 1968 to declare on the air that America would have to negotiate without victory to end the Vietnam War.
After correspondent Jim Axelrod filed a report on the latest effort by Congressional Democrats to put conditions on Iraq War funding, which ended with Axelrod opining that President Bush has an incentive to reach a deal soon because of the President's low approval rating over the "unpopular war," Couric drew a comparison to the Vietnam War by introducing the Cronkite piece referring to "another unpopular war." Couric: "And now we want to take you back 40 years to another unpopular war and to a journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief. It was Vietnam, the President was Lyndon Johnson, and that journalist? CBS News correspondent Walter Cronkite." (Transcript follows)
Pham Xuan Am served on the staff of Time magazine during the Vietnam War – and he also served as a communist spy for the Viet Cong. This should have been the cause of great embarrassment for liberal media outlets like Time. Instead, in 1990, former Time reporter H.D.S. Greenway wasn’t irate at his colleague, but expressed his anger in the Washington Post at the "right-wingers [who] seized on the An story to say that the press had fallen victim to a fiendish disinformation plot."
On Saturday’s Weekend Edition, NPR anchor Scott Simon interviewed Larry Berman, author of a new book on Pham Xuan Am called "Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent." Simon might have been trying to help the author out, but the question he asked seemed like a no-brainer: "Did he give information that resulted in the deaths of South Vietnamese or American soldiers?"
It was a Vietnam flashback in Thursday's news pages, as New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg deployed 2004-era Times language to attack the veracity of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the Vietnam veterans group that successfully challenged John Kerry's Vietnam war record. The story concerned Sam Fox, Bush's nominee for ambassador to Belgium, who was forced to withdraw from consideration after Sen. John Kerry made a stink that Fox donated $50,000 to the Swifties. Bush took advantage of the Congressional recess to install Fox as ambassador without waiting for Senate approval.
On the March 26 edition of "The View," co-host Rosie O’Donnell discussed the Iranian seizure of British sailors. Rosie again gave out false information on national television and implied that this may be a hoax so to provide the president with an excuse to go to war.
"But interesting with the British sailors, there were 15 British sailors and Marines who apparently went into Iranian waters and they were seized by the Iranians. And I have one thing to say: Gulf of Tonkin, Google it. Okay."
Rosie may have missed the news that not only do the United States and Britain insist they were not in Iranian waters, but Iraq and France do as well. Veteran journalist Barbara Walters did not bother to correct Rosie.
On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams unintentionally slammed Chris Matthews on his own show. Discussing Walter Cronkite's famous declaration of U.S defeat in Vietnam, Williams claimed it was a watershed moment because the former CBS anchor had earned the "credibility" of his viewers but warned today's anchors can't have the same effect because: "People do Cronkite-esque statements on topics every day now. On, on cable, you can see one an hour." Williams was probably referencing Matthews' competitors but as any regular viewer of Hardball knows the charge is easily applied to his NBC colleague as Matthews is constantly making his own "Cronkite-esqe" declarations of U.S. defeat in Iraq.
Talk about creating a false dichotomy geared to discrediting a policy! The AP has generated a doosie in theirs titled "Rural America bears scars from Iraq war" and subtitled "Nearly half of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq came from a small town".
Their main thrust is that small towns are somehow seeing their sons fall on the field of battle in "unfair" numbers.
Across the nation, small towns are quietly bearing a disproportionate burden of war. Nearly half of the more than 3,100 U.S. military fatalities in Iraq have come from towns like McKeesport, where fewer than 25,000 people live, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. One in five hailed from hometowns of less than 5,000.
At first blush this might seem to be alarming. But, when one lets that first emotive rush fade and allows a little common sense to be applied to the situation, it doesn't seem so outrageous. The fact is, youngsters from rural areas are simply far more prone to joining the military in the first place and always have been. So it is a natural matter of strict statistics that more from those areas would fall in battle. After all, there are more of them.
So, what we are left with is a naked, emotive effort to cause some sort of outrage over the perceived unfairness of this statistic, even as there is no "fair" or "unfair" component to it. It is simply a fact.
Holy Cross College Professor Jerry Lembcke's 1999 column, "We Are What We Remember" (HTML link), was originally published in the April edition of Holy Cross Magazine (original PDF of the entire magazine is here; Lembcke's column is on Page 74).
Lembcke's core claim is that "the image of the spat-upon veteran is mythical ....." This is a narrative that at least two Greater Cincinnati-area bloggers appear to have fallen for hook, line, and sinker (here and here; BizzyBlog's "debunk of the debunkers" post from earlier today is here; be sure to read the Updates and the comments). Apparently others around the country have also been taken in.
Lembcke's fallback position is that:
But while I cannot prove the negative, I can prove the positive: I can show what did happen during those years and that that historical record makes it highly unlikely that the alleged acts of spitting occurred in the number and manner that is now widely believed.
There's a teeny tiny problem with Lembcke's claim. As Former Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bill Sloat notes at his Daily Bellwether blog, Jerry Lembcke's "search for evidence" apparently overlooked a couple of contrary items that were very close by -- so close that he would not even have had to leave his easy chair after reading the article he wrote. That's because Lembcke is debunked in the VERY SAME issue of the VERY SAME Holy Cross Magazine -- not once, but twice, by two separate Holy Cross alumni who served in Vietnam!
The first alumni vet is Jim McDougald '51. The second is Steve Bowen '65. The story, along with its individual portrayals, covers Pages 18-31 of the original publication. Extracts with the two spitting stories are these:
While the rest of the press played up liberal-minded comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War and brought up old and unsubstantiated claims about Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, Sanger finds a different anti-Bush angle, one he’s used before – the president’s evidently disturbing lack of curiosity about the world.