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.
When Sen. John Kerry arrived in Boston for the last Democratic convention, the TV news stars thought they’d died and gone to political heaven. Dan Rather said Kerry’s speech drove the crowd in Boston into “a three-thousand-gallon attack about every three minutes,” and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham was comparing Kerry to Abraham Lincoln on MSNBC. If media liberals can get that excited over Kerry, viewers may have to worry about the anchors lapsing into diabetic comas over Barack Obama’s ascension convention in Denver.
It’s easy to forget just how “tick tight,” as Rather once put it, the primary race was between Obama and Hillary Clinton. It ended up with a vote gap of just one tenth of a percentage point. The real difference-maker in the 2008 race was the Obama favoritism of the national media, led by the television networks. It was his margin of victory.
Four years ago when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made his “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” remark, the CBS Evening News instead ran a soundbite of Kerry promising “we're going to build an army of truth-tellers” as it took the newscast six months (!) to finally air the vote for/voted against clip and the NBC Nightly News didn't play it for nine days. Yet on Thursday night, both newscasts led with what NBC's Lee Cowan declared is “John McCain's personal housing crisis.”
ABC, which in 2004 aired Kerry's comment a day later when Dick Cheney raised it, didn't lead Thursday with McCain's failure Wednesday to say how many homes he and his wife own, but devoted a full story-plus to it with Jake Tapper deciding “it could be a seminal moment” in the campaign before George Stephanopoulos relayed how the Obama camp thinks “this is one of those metaphorical moments.” He recalled 1992, “when it seemed like President Bush didn't know what a supermarket scanner was.”
Fill-in CBS anchor Maggie Rodriguez led: “John McCain couldn't answer a question most Americans would find simple, how many homes do you own?” NBC's Brian Williams, back in Manhattan from Beijing, opened with how though “reporters are busy chasing down all available clues” on Obama's VP pick:
This was not the biggest political story of the day. That came from John McCain in response to a question about how many houses he owns. He didn't answer. The actual answer is a sizable number.
Deborah Solomon, reporter for the New York Times Magazine, conducted her weekly Q&A this Sunday with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, ostensibly discussing his plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by harnessing wind power.
But Solomon, who admitted voting for Al Gore in the 2000 election, also posed hostile questions about Pickens's involvement in the 2004 campaign against Democrat John Kerry:
Solomon: You helped re-elect Bush in '04 when you gave $3 million to the Swift Boat campaign to discredit John Kerry's Vietnam service. Do you regret your involvement?
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:
During the roundtable discussion on Sunday's This Week on ABC, when host George Stephanopoulos asked why Barack Obama had not talked about the economy more in his campaign ads, ABC political analyst Mark Halperin argued that taxing the wealthy should be a strong issue for Democrats this year, although he conceded it failed when tried by Al Gore and John Kerry. Without making any mention of the case that lower taxes on all Americans is beneficial to the overall economy, Halperin merely talked about President Bush's tax cuts that "disproportionately benefitted the wealthy," and seemed to suggest that eliminating those tax cuts may help the economy. Halperin: "That's one issue, again, Gore and Kerry went up against George Bush whose tax cuts disproportionately benefitted the wealthy, one of the best issues the Democrats could have. Neither of them made it stick. I think Obama, again, compared to the last two Democrats to run, has a real chance to make that case on taxes and fairness and how to grow the economy in a way that, I think, could be one of the decisive issues in this race."
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange between Stephanopoulos and Halperin from the Sunday, July 6, This Week on ABC:
For months, the mainstream media has obsessed with the evils of the "right wing attack machine." Recently, CBS bizarrely labeled attacks on Obama’s campaign financing flip flop "swift boating." ABC’s George Stephanopoulos even defended the Obama campaign’s discrimination against Muslims to "combat the issue" of false rumors that Obama is a Muslim.
While much of the mainstream media frets about the alleged GOP slime machine, they ignore the much larger, more heavily financed true smear machine from the left. The Politico reports that far left blogger John Aravosis, who also humiliates those who do not fit his brand of liberalism, is now attacking McCain’s Vietnam War record (ironically is exactly the outrage directed at the "swift boat" veterans)
The New York Times published an article Monday about the anger some Vietnam veterans feel over the vessel they used to serve on, Swift Boat, now being synonymous with "the nastiest of campaign smears."
In dredging up this issue, Times' writer Kate Zernike not only misrepresented many of the facts surrounding the claims made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but also completely ignored the mainstream media's role in turning the name of this patrol craft into a political pejorative.
In fact, something the Times conveniently chose not to share with its readers was how one of its own columnists, Frank Rich, wrote one of the earliest and most prominent pieces recharacterizing this nautical term as a smear tactic in his August 21, 2005, article "The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan."
But before we get there, here's what the Times had to say Monday (emphasis added throughout, h/t NBer Bingo):
Sunday's New York Times featured a Vietnam flashback, not to 1969, but 2004, as reporter Kate Zernike once again reported for duty in defense of John Kerry, in the former presidential candidate's Ahab-like quest for revenge against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose questioning of his Vietnam War citations wounded him in the 2004 campaign.
The background: Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens issued a challenge last November -- $1 million to anyone who could disprove a single charge the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made against Sen. John Kerry. A group of Kerry's Vietnam crewmates have sent a package to Pickens (and apparently to certain media outlets as well), including a 12-page letter and a 42-page attachment of Kerry's Navy records.
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 The O'Reilly Factor, during his opening "Talking Points Memo," FNC host Bill O'Reilly responded to Scott McClellan's contention, from that day's Today show, that he "felt like we were rushing into" war with Iraq in the run-up to the invasion, by showing a clip of former CIA Director George Tenet saying that before the war he "believed it in my core" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. FNC contributor Karl Rove further quoted a number of Democrats who proclaimed in the fall of 2002 the danger posed by Saddam Hussein, as they saw it.
After O'Reilly mentioned that Saddam Hussein deceived his generals into believing he possessed WMD, Rove recounted that, according to the Duelfer report and the Kay report, Saddam Hussein "was spending vast sums of money to keep together the experts and the dual use facilities so that when the West lost interest in this and the UN sanctions failed, he could reconstitute easily."
O'Reilly played the following clip of McClellan from the Thursday, May 29, Today show:
Cindy McCain, the wife of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, released a summary of her 2006 income tax return Friday prompting media members to quickly make negative comparisons between what she revealed and what Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) wife disclosed to the public in October 2004.
Most notable was the New York Times which in characterizing Teresa Heinz Kerry's 2003 income as being less than Cindy's in 2006 completely ignored its own October 16, 2004, article revealing as much as $50 million Teresa made in "trusts of which she is the beneficiary" not included in her personal tax filing.
Isn't that convenient?
Let's begin our examination with Saturday's Times piece (emphasis added, h/t Redstate, picture courtesy AP):
On May 13, John McCain supporter John Hagee issued an apology to the Catholic League for controversial anti-Catholic comments he's made in the past. "Catholic League President William Donoghue [sic] accepted the apology," noted Washington Post's Michael D. Shear in the midst of his 8-paragraph story published the following day.
Shear closed by noting that "[n]ot all Catholics were mollified" by Hagee's letter of apology, citing "Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good." Shear failed to label Kelley nor the Alliance as liberal, although a visit to their Web site makes it pretty clear their political agenda skews in favor of liberal Democratic social welfare initiatives.
But more telling is this: Kelley used to work for the DNC during the Kerry campaign as Director of Religious Outreach. Catholic or no, it's not all that surprising that the former liberal Democratic Party staffer would refuse to let the Hagee matter drop in a tense election year when presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has his own share of problems, to say the least, with loopy clergymen in his corner.
Demonstrating how the mainstream media will view criticism of Barack Obama through the prism of past attacks on Democrats they consider illegitimate, Dean Reynolds concluded a Sunday night CBS Evening News story on Barack Obama by suggesting Democrats are well-justified in fearing Republicans will succeed in portraying Obama as “out of the mainstream,'” which Reynolds described as “code for 'unpatriotic'” in forwarding the red-herring, since it has worked “even against those who've received the purple heart.” To make his reference clear, as he spoke viewers saw video from the 2004 campaign of John Kerry.
Reynolds had relayed how Obama has “been mocking suggestions that he's out of the mainstream.” CBS then played a clip of Obama, in a stump speech, repeating the questions about him: “'We're not sure he shares our values.' 'We haven't seen him wear a flag pin lately.' 'His former pastor said some terrible things' and so, you know, 'can we really trust this guy?'”
Next, Reynolds ended his May 4 story from Indianapolis:
But 'out of the mainstream' is a charge Republicans habitually make against Democrats. It's code for 'unpatriotic.' And it worries Democrats that it's been so effective against their candidates in the past -- even against those who've received the purple heart.
When's the last time you heard the MSM talk about a Republican being hit by the "Democrat attack machine"? Scratch that. Have you ever heard the MSM talk about a Republican being hit by the "Democrat attack machine"? Neither have I. But fretting about impending Republican "swiftboating" of the Dem presidential candidate is an MSM staple, and we saw a good example of it this morning, right down to an image of John Kerry in uniform.
Oh, and Hillary Clinton sees herself as a modern-day Ginger Rogers.
Ann Curry had a chance to interview both Dem candidates recently, and Today ran an extended clip during this morning's first half-hour, the two interviews being artfully edited into a back-and-forth. Overall, I'd say Curry gave Hillary the tougher time, but be that as it may, let's focus on two snippets. First, Curry fretting to Obama about those mean Republicans. Check out the screencap. Kerry in uniform, decorations on display. Beneath, the graphic ominously asks: "Can Obama Handle Republican Attacks?" Again I ask: have you ever, EVER, seen the mirror-image graphic in the MSM?
AP's Laurie Kellman reported an entire story Wednesday night on "Abortion-rights lawmakers to receive communion," but nowhere in the story was an American quoted in opposition to granting communion to pro-abortion politicians. The angle for the story was that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others planned to receive communion at the Papal Mass in D.C., when Pope Benedict has been supportive of denying the sacrament to abortion supporters. This paragraph stuck out:
Benedict's stance on abortion and Communion has been painful for elected officials who inhabit the troubled zone where Catholicism and their political beliefs intersect.
It would be just as true to state "Pelosi's stance on abortion and Communion has been painful for church officials," but that's not the ideological flow coming out of AP. Instead, Kellman quoted John Kerry plugging the opportunity of the papal trip to foster discussion on "poverty, disease, and despair," which in his mind probably doesn't include despair over pro-abortion politicians ever considering whether their position needs to better reflect their chosen faith.
The "Reliable Source" gossips at the Washington Post reported Wednesday morning that not only will Speaker Nancy Pelosi attend several White House events around the papal visit, but also "Look for Pelosi and Sen. John Kerry, who plan to take Communion along with 46,000 faithful at the service." Liberals in the media won't see this as scandalous news, but traditional Catholics do.
Politicians who vote and speak out in support of abortion and homosexuality are promoting sexual sin and are dramatically opposed to Church teaching. The American Life League made a newspaper ad asking Pope Benedict to deny Communion to 21 of the "most egregious offenders" on abortion, including Pelosi and Kerry on their list.
A common complaint of most media watchers is that investigative journalism, despite the tools available in today's Internet Era, has become a lost art.
Take for example the media's fawning over Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday, with many of the usual suspects calling it "extraordinary," "worthy of Abraham Lincoln," "the best speech ever given on race in this country," and a "definining cultural moment in America."
In the midst of all this sycophantic praise, mightn't someone have uncovered a speech given sixteen years ago by one of Obama's key supporters that expressed similar concerns about how affirmative action stokes resentment in the white community?
If media would have taken the time, they would have found that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) actually spoke about this issue in far greater detail during a rather controversial address given at Yale University on March 30, 1992. As reported the following day by the Boston Globe (subscription required, emphasis added):
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith did a segment on the effectiveness of television ads in presidential campaigns, in which he gave credit to Ronald Reagan’s ‘optimistic’ "Morning in America" ad, which he incorrectly said was run in the 1980 campaign rather than 1984, but he followed quickly by condemning more recent Republican ads: "There's a high road and a low road. Remember Willie Horton? The ads played to racial fears and portrayed Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis as soft on crime...And an ad showing John Kerry's wobbly windsurfing helped sink his presidential bid."
Prior to describing this "low road," Smith discussed Hillary Clinton’s recent 3 A.M. phone call ad and highlighted it’s effectiveness:
Most of the ads won't be remembered by anyone, but some of them are not only effective, they become part of our culture. And a new contender is this campaign ad for Hillary Clinton...But the tactics seem to work. Clinton did win Texas where the ad ran.
Bumiller, who took over the McCain beat from Marc Santora in January, quoted a 2004 story in which McCain said the Kerry meeting never happened, according to ABC News. McCain, whose temper does flare up at times, told Bumiller that everyone already knows this story, despite her persistent questioning.
Republican Sen. John McCain, showing a flash of the temper he is known for, repeatedly cut off a reporter Friday when asked whether he had spoken to Democratic Sen. John Kerry about being his vice president in 2004.
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."
Earlier, I noted how the New York Times barely touched on adultery rumors about John Kerry four years ago, and how the morning shows lurched into McCain-in-crisis mode at the first shaky Times "romantic relationship" story on Vicki Iseman. The same pattern followed on network TV coverage of the Kerry rumor. It barely surfaced, and never for more than a sentence or two. All three networks heavily suggested to viewers it was bunk, not a crisis. This shows either (a) the trust of the networks in the New York Times or (b) the lust of the networks for Republican dirt or (c) both. Here's how a quick check of the Nexis data-retrieval system looked.
ABC. Peter Jennings was first in raising it and dismissing it on the February 13, 2004 World News Tonight. "Just one other note about Senator Kerry, several times today, including on a national radio program, the Senator was asked whether rumors about him and a young woman had any substance. The Senator denied it categorically. There is nothing, he said, to report."
It now appears, as predicted by yours truly two weeks ago today, that Hillary Clinton will not be our next president, and that Barack Obama is going to be Democratic Party's presidential nominee.
This means that it must be time for Old Media to start playing robust defense on his behalf.
Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press got Old Media off to a "great" start in that regard this morning, as she linked criticism of Obama's patriotism strictly to conservatives, rewrote the history of the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry, played a game of misdirection regarding the candidate's failure to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem, and made excuses for Michelle Obama's quarter-century gap in her pride in being an American.
Pickler's report, entitled "Conservatives Say Obama Lacks Patriotism," starts thusly:
A story that mildly resembles today's McCain "scoop" came four years ago, the charge that young AP reporter Alexandra Polier may have had an affair with John Kerry. No proof emerged. How did the New York Times cover that charge?
On February 17, 2004, on page A-19, the Times ran a 434-word piece by reporter Jim Rutenberg, one of the four reporters on the McCain story today. The rumor had a "vibrant life on the Internet," but not in the New York Times. Here it is:
Someone should tell Chris Matthews to go pick on someone his own size . . .
Matthews enjoyed himself at the expense of a local legislator during last night's MSNBC coverage of the primaries. Kirk Watson [shown in a clip from today's Morning Joe] is a state senator from Texas and an Obama supporter. Matthews cornered Watson at length over his inability to name specific accomplishments by Barack. Credit Kirk for keeping a smile on his face, but there's no denying he was put badly on the spot [HuffPo speaks of Matthews having humiliated the guy].
In MSM circles, "swiftboating" is shorthand for false attacks on Democrats, even though John O'Neill and other members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth stand adamantly behind their allegations about John Kerry's war record.
In an interview of Barack Obama conducted yesterday and aired on this morning's Today, Matt Lauer employed the "swiftboating" code to ask whether the candidate is prepared for the Republican onslaught. For good measure the NBC anchor wondered if Obama is ready for Republican racism.
Lauer, introducing the issue, stated that "Senator Clinton has questioned whether he can withstand negative attacks from Republicans in the fall."
Joy Behar warned of the imminent "Republican attack machine" and of course it’s "lethal." On the February 12 edition of "The View," the co-hosts discussed, surprisingly, that Obama has been getting excellent press. They must have gotten the permission from the Clinton campaign to say that. Sherri Shepherd then noted, if Obama wins the Democratic nomination "it’s going to be unleashed with force."
Joy Behar then jumped in on the "Republican attack machine" and alluded to some attacks against Vietnam veterans such as Max Cleland and John Kerry and promised Obama will get "swift boated." Behar maybe missed the point that John McCain is the Vietnam veteran in the race and Barack Obama has no military service. Who could literally get "swift boated?"
In an issue dominated by rehashing early and modern American campaign history, U.S. News & World Report’s January 28/February 4 issue devoted sympathetic pages to the losing campaigns of two Massachusetts liberals, John Kerry and Michael Dukakis. The cover promised stories on "The Dirtiest Campaigns Ever," and inside the "Down & Dirty" section included reporter Danielle Knight’s story charging the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made allegations about Kerry’s medals had "little or no merit," according to...The New York Times. In an interview with reporter Bret Schulte, Dukakis claimed that it’s all his fault we’re under the worst administration he’s ever lived under, since he failed to beat "old man" Bush in 1988, but he claimed he was the victim of negative ads that he said he failed to rebut.
Yesterday, the Obama campaign put out an email from John Kerry condemning the "Swiftboating" of Barack. Today it's Michelle Obama's turn, and the candidate's wife has come out swinging. Here's the text of an email from Michelle Obama just received from the Obama campaign [emphasis added]:
In the past week or two, another candidate's spouse has been getting an awful lot of attention.
We knew getting into this race that Barack would be competing with Senator Clinton and President Clinton at the same time.
We expected that Bill Clinton would tout his record from the nineties and talk about Hillary's role in his past success. That's a fair approach and a challenge we are prepared to face.
What we didn't expect, at least not from our fellow Democrats, are the win-at-all-costs tactics we've seen recently. We didn't expect misleading accusations that willfully distort Barack's record.
With less than a year to go until the November elections, it seems a metaphysical certitude any media outlet addressing the campaign efforts of a Republican candidate is going to figure out a way to reference the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
After all, supposedly impartial press representatives in 2004 did everything within their power to discredit the claims against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) made by this organization, so much so that "Swift Boat" has become both a verb and an adverb in political parlance.
Such was the case Wednesday when the Los Angeles Times published an article about Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Even though the piece dealt with an organization opposing the former New York City mayor, it did so by grossly misrepresenting some pertinent facts about Kerry's detractors (emphasis added throughout, h/t Patterico and NBer Bingo):