Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Swift Boat Vets and the media: Maybe it will improve over the next few days and weeks as reporters have the opportunity to really do some serious digging into the claims made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but thus far the reporting has been abysmal.
Last night's highly touted "Nightline" episode was perhaps the very epitome of shallow reporting. The first part of the broadcast just had a variety of veterans taking sides. It should come as no surprise that a group of San Franciso-area veterans belonging to a group called something along the lines of "swords into plowshares" was staunchly supporting Sen. John Kerry -- no matter what.
The opposing side was given roughly equal time, but theirs was more of a call to find out the truth. Are these charges against Kerry true or not?
The show concluded with veteran journalist/author David Halberstam and a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor addressing various issues. The reporter was quick to point out that the reason this was an issue was that Kerry had made his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign. It's unlikely that this would be even the marginal story that it is in the mainstream press if Kerry had made his Senate record the focus of his campaign.
The thing that troubled me about the whole report was an off-hand zinger made by Halberstam regarding Vice President Dick Cheney. Halberstam claimed that Cheney had questioned John Kerry's patriotism.
It's the standard charge made by Democrats, but it always ends right there: "Republican X has questioned my patriotism."
If the claims were really true, then a more appropriate charge would be: "Republican X questioned my patriotism when he said 'Y'."
But all of this is merely a distraction. The issue is: What is the truth? That's what this story should be all about, and thus far it's a question the media is ignoring.