September 21, 2004

Follow-up



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All the major news organizations are now featuring the CBS story about the Bush documents as their top story.

Pop quiz: can you name any other time when a story that broke big, was found to be in error, and the story of it not being accurate got pushed to the top of the headlines? Zzzzt. Time's up. Neither can I. News orgs always push these stories down--the story breaks big, the news that it was all wrong gets buried. Except for Bush.

Damned that liberal media, at it yet again.

The impression that Bush & Co. are rejoicing at now is that Bush's Guard scandal is as false as the CBS docs, which of course is a completely false impression in itself. The CBS docs would have simply been more nails in the coffin, and did not represent the coffin itself. The evidence that Bush (a) used family influence to get into the Guard and get special treatment there, (b) went because he wanted to weasel out of the war which he approved of and told others they should go fight, and (c) went AWOL and never completed his tour of duty--these facts are well-evidenced completely independent of the Killian memos. The forged Killian docs simply would have been further confirmation, and drew attention simply because they would be new.

And one should not forget: Col. Hodges, who worked with Killian, and Killian's secretary, both stated that (a) they didn't think the memos were authentic, BUT also that (b) they reflected real memos from that time, and they reflected what Killian spoke about during that time.

Not that many people will get this. Most people will hear, "the claims about Bush during Vietnam are fake," and will go on believing that Bush's character is not in question. Which is the grand disservice that Rather and CBS did, not to mention this Burkett fellow.

Posted by Luis at September 21, 2004 02:53 AM
Comments

Where was the outrage when Republicans broke into Senator Jay Rockefeller's computers and stole Democrat memos and then leak the memos to Fox News Channel. This is Watergate. Was Fox News Channel trying to bring down Democrats and protect the President? The Fox News Channel even denied that their sources broke into Senator Rockefeller's staff computers. Did Scarborough do a town meeting against Fox News Channel? How many hours did media cover this story? Did Fox News Channel check the background of their partisan's source motives and how he got the memos. Of course not.

Please send this message to all Democrat blog and Democrats leaders. This show Republican hypocrisy.

Posted by: sb at September 21, 2004 02:14 PM

I'm going to go a bit against the grain here... like it or not, this IS a news story. It's looking more and more possible that the documents were faked, and that's news.

Now, does this mean people should vote for Bush? Of course not. What it DOES mean is that people are going to take the wrong lessons from W's little ANG adventure.

If I were the Kerry campaign, I'd have stayed as far away from this as possible... and just stick to a more basic tactic- take W on, head-on, when it comes to Vietnam. Clobber him with it in one of the debates.

I'd just say something really basic, like "I think it's pathetic that your campaign has tried to paint me as some kind of wimp. I was wounded while fighting in Vietnam while you were skipping out on your Guard committment to work on political campaigns in Alabama. Unlike you, I know what real combat is, and that's why I take the President's obligations seriously."

Or words to that effect. Bush's team has got to be sweating like mad, trying to figure out a response to a slam like this.

That said... the CBS debacle *is* news. Karl Rove will try and ride it as long as possible; best bet is to recapture the initiative with something else.

For example, Kerry's released-today statement on Iraq is an excellent start. It lays out his position clearly, points out how Bush messed it up, and is overall extremely well written.

Email me, Luis, if you don't already have it.

Paul

Posted by: Enumclaw at September 21, 2004 03:10 PM

I'm going to go a bit against the grain here... like it or not, this IS a news story. It's looking more and more possible that the documents were faked, and that's news.I don't argue that. What I would argue is its prominence. I can't count the times when Bush and his people made statements that were false and got major headlines for being true at first, but when it was found that they were false, the story got buried in the back pages. This time, the story was at the top of every news site. It's not the story, it's the proportion I'm grumbling about.Now, does this mean people should vote for Bush? Of course not. What it DOES mean is that people are going to take the wrong lessons from W's little ANG adventure.Which is what I'm saying.If I were the Kerry campaign, I'd have stayed as far away from this as possible... and just stick to a more basic tactic- take W on, head-on, when it comes to Vietnam. Clobber him with it in one of the debates.Which is mostly what Kerry has been doing--I don't recall the Kerry campaign making any official statement about this. But everyone assumed that since it helped Kerry at first, that by association the docs being fake somehow reflects badly on him. And change the topic Kerry has, having successfully brought Iraq into the limelight now; with this, Bush's errors will stand out.For example, Kerry's released-today statement on Iraq is an excellent start. It lays out his position clearly, points out how Bush messed it up, and is overall extremely well written.

Email me, Luis, if you don't already have it.There you go. And yes, I plan to start concentrating more on Kerry now. I will post news of all of his new speeches, with excerpts from each, and will focus more on his policy points.

Posted by: Luis at September 21, 2004 04:22 PM

Okay, I'll be more direct.

You sound like a stereotypical whiny weenie liberal when you complain that Bush's faux pas get less media attention than Kerry.

If you sit and complain about how the possibly-fake documents get more media coverage, more prominently, than anti-Kerry stuff that turns out to be false, it only hurts the cause. Just ignore it and drive onward; otherwise, you've allowed the bad guys to take control of the media cycle.

Short, direct complaints of things that're true (like CNN posting cruddy pictures of one candidate but not the other) are one thing, but getting sucked into the accusation-reaction-complaining about the reaction kind of cycle is the kind of thing that will kill a campaign.

And make no mistake about it- you're part of a campaign. People read your stuff, and they think about it, and talk about it. If just a couple of undecided voters are swayed, well, that's what really matters.

Getting my vote doesn't matter for a couple of reasons. First, it's already going to Kerry; second, I live in Washington, which is going to go to Kerry. What matters is reaching the fence-sitters in Ohio or Florida, or ensuring that California stays on Kerry's side.

And I think those people are okay with a brief dismissal of the document controversy. Why get into the whole "the media is giving bigger coverage to the notion that they're false" argument when you've got a MUCH BETTER one.

"Whether these particular documents are true or false doesn't matter; what matters is that while John Kerry was getting shot at in Vietnam, George W Bush was skipping his flight physical, a drunken frat partyboy in Alabama."

POW. That's what you need.

Paul

Posted by: Enumclaw at September 22, 2004 03:40 AM

Paul, I appreciate your bluntness and you probably have a good point there. But I would see that as more of a problem in my expressing the point rather than making the wrong point altogether. I've got more than enough "POW" on Bush in this blog, and the intent of this entry was to drive home the point that the media is indeed biased in favor of Bush--less willing to point out things that go against him, more willing to jump on things that go against Kerry. Whining about the mythical "liberal media" is what gave the entire nation the impression that there was such a thing, as opposed to the conservative media we have today. I am without question biased, but I don't think it would be too hard for anyone with an objective eye, when pointed to note certain things, to conclude that the media plays in Bush's favor far more than it does not.

Posted by: Luis at September 22, 2004 07:58 AM

[i]I am without question biased, but I don't think it would be too hard for anyone with an objective eye, when pointed to note certain things, to conclude that the media plays in Bush's favor far more than it does not.[/i]

See... I don't think it necessarily does. I think that the media is actually reasonably fair- it's neither "liberal" (although the folks making up the media, being smart, questioning, thinking people, tend to lean liberal or progressive) nor is it particularly "conservative".

Hence, I have little patience for anyone's complaints about the media. :)

In any case, this is a story that the rest of the media loves- one of their own getting caught with their pants down. When it's that blowhard Dan Rather, it's especially vicious, because he's kind of a jackass in the past. I have no doubt that's a big part of why this has been a big story.

Add that to his/CBS's initial reaction to the possibility of the documents being fake- "even if the documents are false, the sentiments in them are not"- and it's a pretty Big News Story. CBS just blew it; they should have done a few things differently. They should have had more experts verify the documents; they should have reported it with a grain of salt, they should have done a better job of poking into the background of the guy that brought them forward, and when questions were raised, they should have been open and invited anyone that wanted to give their opinions about the documents.

Instead, they chose to stonewall at first and insist they were true; then they chose to say that they might not be 100% true but that everyone's missing the point, that Bush was a drunken drugged fratboy weasel during that time and probably was covered for by his daddy's rich/powerful buddies.

Well, as soon as they said *that*, they left themselves wide open to charges of being... liberal media influenced by their own opinion. And with good cause.

What's really ironic is that the point is even more clear- people were willing to believe these documents because everyone *knows* that Bush was a drunken drugged fratboy weasel at the time, and everyone *knows* that his daddy's influence and power got him a cushy National Guard slot that kept him safe at home.

The only people who believe that isn't true are the stone-cold idiots who are going to vote for the "Republican" side of the ticket no matter what happens or what anyone says. They'd happily vote for a clone of Adolf Hitler, if the Hitlerclone were running as a tough-on-terrorism Republican.

But... the people in the middle are the ones that matter. They are ALWAYS the key to the election. Capture them to win.

And I think Kerry's side is right; if Kerry and the Dems get a bit more blunt, then every time Vietnam is brought up the simple truth will pop up in people's minds:

While Bush was skipping out on his commitment, even while he was living up to his commitment and flying jets safe and sound stateside, Kerry was getting shot at and dodging shrapnel in the hot, sticky jungle river deltas, winning medals and getting wounded and putting his life at risk.

As long as (on the Vietnam issue, anyway) Kerry and the Dems stay "on message", they win EVERY time it's brought up.

Paul

Posted by: Enumclaw at September 22, 2004 10:59 AM

See... I don't think it necessarily does. I think that the media is actually reasonably fair- it's neither "liberal" (although the folks making up the media, being smart, questioning, thinking people, tend to lean liberal or progressive) nor is it particularly "conservative".Sorry, you're dead wrong on that one. The bias it shows is pretty damn clear, and I've evidenced it quite a bit here on this site and in the past at Ornery. Call it names if you like, it doesn't change the facts. Remember the 2000 election? Bush told huge whoppers about his past (lied outright about his criminal record), his relationship with Ken Lay, obvious contradictions about his tax plans and Medicare solutions--and the media called him "plainspoken," refusing to call him out on obvious mistruths and self-contradictions. Meanwhile, the same "unbiased" press did not hold back a bit in calling Gore an "exaggerator," "embellisher," and even a "liar" for things like saying that he'd visited a forest fire with James Witt (he was mistaken, it was with one of Witt's deputies), or for the famous "created the Intenet" misquote in which Gore did not say he created the Internet but that he helped create it (which he did, with vital legislation--Gore helped create the Internet and with it the 90's boom, and as thanks he got ridiculed). The media let Bush's whoppers pass, and jumped on Gore.

You think that this is just a biased perception? Studies show that's wrong. An unbiased study that can be found on Journalism.org shows that a comprehensive survey, with honest methodology, of major media organizations found that in the final weeks of the 2000 campaign, 24% of news stories on Bush were positive, as compared with 13%--almost half Bush's amount--for Gore. Negative stories made up 49% of the coverage on Bush, as opposed to 56% for Gore. In stories that covered them both, 50% more were negative on Gore than on Bush, and more than 50% more were positive on Bush than on Gore.

Furthermore, press stories on Bush focused more on his statements on the issues, while stories on Gore focused less on his issues and more on negative stories about his campaign and how it was being run. In short, the study found that in nearly all areas, the media was clearly biased towards Bush.

And compare Bush with Clinton--imagine half the things Bush has done being done by Clinton, and imagine what the media reaction would have been. Do I really have to list them for you? Aren't they glaringly obvious?

And how about commentators? The list of conservatives with their own radio and TV shows is as long as your arm, but try naming the ones with only liberals, with no conservative counterweights? Short list--at least before Air America Radio went on the air, and they hardly count--they're not financed by the mainstream media.

When I speak of the "conservative media," I partially mean the expressly conservative media--the right-wing pundits that dominate the airwaves and organizations like FOX and ClearChannel--as well as the media in general, which, while perhaps is not as stridently conservative, still gives a conservative slant in the belief that this is what the audience wants. When FOX News overtook CNN, CNN tilted notably to the right in an effort to chase them, and other news organizations have done the same.

But there is another reason for this bias: Bush is stridently in favor of allowing fewer people to dominate ownership of media organizations; Gore, Kerry and most Democrats are not. The media has an incredibly strong vested interest in seeing Bush stay in office, one which affects their bottom line significantly.

Posted by: Luis at September 23, 2004 12:13 AM