Friday, March 18, 2005
"There has been," he said, "a profound and negative change in the relationship of America's media with the American people. . . If 77 percent of the people who voted for George Bush on Election Day believed weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq--as they did--and 77 percent of the people who voted for him believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11--as they did--then something has happened in the way in which we are talking to each other and who is arbitrating the truth in American politics. . . . When fear is dominating the discussion and when there are false choices presented and there is no arbitrator, we have a problem."
Mr. O’Rourke does an excellent job of deriding Kerry’s argument and so it needn’t be done again here, but we did want to suggest that this article should be read (or reread) specifically in the context of the recent interview John O'Neill gave to American Enterprise Online. Most of us know the highlights of the Swiftboat Vets' campaign to counter Kerry's self-aggrandizing account of his military career. What's new in the interview is the details of what the Swiftboat vets had to overcome to get their story out, details that cast an ironic light on Kerry's pronouncements about the mainstream media and, by implication, himself.
TAE: At the Swift Boat veterans' May 4 press conference you had an open letter calling Kerry unfit to be Commander in Chief. It was signed by virtually all of John Kerry's commanders in Vietnam. Yet the story fell flat. The media ignored it. How did your group react to the media blackout?
O'NEILL: We were shocked. We couldn't believe it. I haven't been involved in politics or media relations, and I thought the job of the media was primarily to report the facts. It was obvious to me that many hundreds of his former comrades coming forward to say that he lied about his record in Vietnam and that he was unfit to be President would be important information for Americans. I only then became aware of the bias of the media.
TAE: How do you explain the media's response?
O'NEILL: The establishment media was very pro-Kerry. They were opposed to any story that was critical of Kerry, and I believe that they were captured by their own bias. We met with one reporter around that time. We told a story to him relating to Kerry's service. He acknowledged it was true and terribly important. And he told us he would not print it because it would help George Bush. That's when we began to realize we had a real problem on our hands.
Would this be an example of "a pretty good job of discerning?"
TAE: Did your group consider giving up?
O'NEILL: We couldn't give up because in the end our objective was to get our facts out. We had to be able to look at ourselves the day after the election and know we had done everything we could. If we were simply shouting in the desert, we would still have to shout.
And as with Number One bestsellers by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, the Times failed to review the book during its whole climb up the list. But in their discerning fairness, they did eventually deign to review it:
TAE: The New York Times didn't get around to reviewing your book until October although it had been at the top of the Times bestseller list since August?
O'NEILL: They began the review by saying if Kerry loses the election it will be because of this book. You would expect that declaration would be followed by an in-depth review of the book that would indicate whether it was true or not true. But the review is very short. No fact is refuted other than the outcome of my debate with John Kerry in 1971. I said I thought I'd beat him. I quoted from the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the San Antonio Express & News, all of which concluded that he lost. The Times review claimed that debate was the launching point for Kerry's entire career. The fact is, before the debate John Kerry was a major national figure. After the debate, his career declined. He was defeated for Congress and he disappeared from public view. Only in the New York Times would that debate be the launching point for Kerry's career. When you have a guy who's very famous in 1971 and then no one hears about him again until 1984, how could this be a launch?
TAE's interviewer, David Isaac, was curious about Kerry's election strategy:
TAE: Were you surprised when Senator Kerry focused so much on his
O'NEILL: I think he thought that he had good control over the mainline media, that they were sympathetic, that they would kill the story. And I think he was very confident that was the case with the New York Times and the three major networks and CNN, and that he could intimidate the portions of the media not already friendly to him. And so he thought the story would never come out. That had been his experience over and over again in
Read this passage and compare it with Kerry's remark that "there's a subculture and a sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information. And that has a profound impact and undermines what we call the mainstream media of the country."
To listen to Kerry, one would never guess that the mainstream media (and its darlings) have the power and will to fight ruthlessly against being "undermined":
TAE: The media establishment finally took notice when Senator Kerry attacked you publicly on August 19. Then they seemed to see their role as proving your charges false.
O'NEILL: Yes, that's exactly what occurred. The New York Times functioned as a newsletter for the Kerry campaign. The Times purported to show that I was a Republican. I would have been happy to be a Republican if I really was. The article was ridiculous. It had me married to the wrong person. It was really a sad article to see from a great newspaper. It should win the Jayson Blair award. There's never been a piece in the New York Times examining the factual basis of the Swift Boat vets' charges.
TAE: How did the Kerry campaign react when your story gained traction?
O'NEILL: In terms of attacks by the Kerry campaign, I resented deeply the picketing at my own house during my daughter's wedding.
So when Kerry says, "The question is, what are we going to do about it?," it seems he's already answered his own question: Anything and everything.
Read both the articles cited above. Between them they paint us a portrait of Kerry and his beloved mainstream media that is far more transparent than their usual opaque self-justifying verbiage.