A misdirection play

Bruce Thorton:

The Swift Boat Veterans have raised several issues regarding Kerry's service, the circumstances leading to his medals, and his claims to have been illegally in Cambodia in December of 1968. You would think that the media would be all over these claims, digging around for the evidence that either refutes or supports them. For example, on its web site the Swift Boat Vets claim that Kerry has not released all his Naval records: "These gaps include missing and incomplete fitness reports, missing medical records and missing records related to his medal awards." Is this true or not? If it is true, has anybody in the media asked the Kerry campaign to release the records and so put to rest these presumably false charges?

But in the nation's paper of record, the New York Times, this hasn't happened yet. By far the bulk of its coverage has focused instead on the alleged connections between the Swift Boat Vets and the Bush campaign. When the issue of veracity does come up, as in a story on August 25, the Times simply asserts that "almost all of the [Swift Boat Vets'] challenges to Mr. Kerry and his war record have been contradicted by official war records and even some of its members' own past statements." I think most of us would like to see evidence more compelling than merely the Times' assertions that the charges have indeed been refuted. Provide us with the specific evidence and let us come to our own conclusions.

In fact, the focus on the connections between Bush and the Swift Boat Vets at the expense of a detailed examination of the charges looks more and more like classic misdirection. After all, whether or not such connections exist says absolutely nothing about the truth of the allegations. And there's a great deal of hypocrisy in the complaints from Kerry, amplified by the Times megaphone, about the activities of a 527 group like the Swift Boat Vets (527's are organizations that face no limit on fundraising but that are not supposed to coordinate their activities with campaigns or particular parties). After all, 527's opposed to President Bush have spent so far over $60 million, and many of them are aided by people connected to the Democratic Party. Harold Ickes, for example, who sits on the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee, has helped organize America Coming Together and The Media Fund, both blatantly anti-Bush and pro-Kerry.


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