Friday, August 20, 2004
Bad journalism gets worse: Sen. John Kerry finally forced The New York Times' hand. America's alleged "newspaper of record" finally acknowledged the existence of a substantial number of John Kerry's fellow veterans who believe that he is unfit to serve as commander in chief.
But the Times hasn't spent the last two weeks investigating the claims of these 200+ men. It hasn't spent that time pouring over their signed affadavits. It hasn't spent that time searching for the truth.
Nope, it's spent that time preparing a hit piece -- complete with graphics -- that doesn't dig into the veracity of the charges, but instead attempts to dismiss the charges by impugning motives.
The Times' "investigation" consists mainly of innuendo and comparing many Kerry-authored documents to the the Swift Boat Veterans signed affadavits. When those two are shown to conflict, the Times repeatedly sides with the Kerry version. It is amusing to see the Times, which often lauds whistleblowers and discounts official, contradictatory documentation, place so much faith in records based on what the Swift Boat Vets claim are Kerry lies.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Times coverage is incredibly one-sided and unfair. Does public editor Daniel Okrent really need to wait until after the election to see if the paper treats Bush and Kerry differently.
A week after the Kerry campaign backed off Kerry's long-held "seared" fantasy that he had spent Christmas 1968 in Cambodia, the Times notes the backtrack in today's piece -- near the very end of the story -- in just one paragraph.
Even then, the Times tries to offer support to Kerry's position by offering up Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley's belief that Kerry was "probably there shortly afterward." There is no mention of the fact that no one -- including members of Kerry's "band of brothers" -- has been found to back up this particular claim. That's right, the guys that support Kerry, the ones that the Times report gives deference to, reject that claim -- and the story makes no note of it.
For several months, other shadowy groups with ties to big-time liberal money men like George Soros have been funding attack ads against President Bush. In fact, a recent one by the MoveOn PAC once again, without any evidence, accuses Bush of being AWOL while in the Texas Air National Guard. If you're worried that you missed the Times piece on the ties between MoveOn, the Kerry campaign and his wife's philanthropic organizations, fret not. It hasn't done one.
Those of you who are interested in journalists who ask tough questions of candidates should take note of something else that is lacking in the Times extensive coverage -- no questions are asked of John Kerry. The Times referenced his public statements, but was apparently unable to interview him.
If you're one of those people who live in what is sometimes disdainfully referred to as "flyover country" and wonder why the New York Times coverage matters, then a look at other newspapers, including my own, is all you need to prove that the Times
work opinion is felt far and wide.
The real journalistic tragedy in this whole situation is the fact that many American newspapers today picked up the Times report -- sort of. You see, the Times story is approximately 100 column inches long. That's nearly an entire newspaper page of text -- no ads, no photos, no graphics. Most newspapers don't have the space to dedicate that much to a single story.
So what happens?
They use a much shorter version of the story, sent over the wires with "ABRIDGED" in the slug and trimmed down to a much more manageable 30-something inches by a Times editor.
And this abridged version contains nothing on the Cambodia kerfuffle -- not one word.
The major media is not doing its job. It will suffer because of it.