Swiftly Slanted, Part 3: Evolving to Half-Truths
WorldNetDaily has downgraded some of its blatant lies about John Kerry -- but not all of them. Plus: A not-completely-ringing endorsement of the Swift Boat Veterans book at NewsMax, the book's coauthor makes dubious statements in defending himself, Then and Now, and more.
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily is evolving a bit.
Led by Joseph Farah, WND has been so eager to smear John Kerry with the accusations of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and take everything said by the group at face value that it has rushed outright lies about Kerry into digital ink -- i.e., Farah's claim that group leader John O'Neill is a "long-time Democrat."
An Aug. 21 WND story, written by Farah, combines these two tendencies. Farah takes the potentially bad (for him, anyway) news that another former swift boat commander backs up Kerry's version of events that resulted in his Silver Star and massages it with an interview with Jerome Corsi, coauthor with O'Neill of the Kerry-bashing "Unfit for Command," who claims that the former commander's statements do not "substantively contradict his findings about John Kerry's Silver Star."
Missing here, and anywhere else on WND, is Corsi's history of inflammatory anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim statements he has made on the conservative Free Republic board. You'd think a reporter with an interest in providing a full accounting of the swift boat story would want to mention that at some point. Of course, Farah is not that reporter.
Farah also notes that another news organization's story on the issue "attributed the Swift Boat Veterans' criticism of Kerry to "Republicans." In fact, the vets have said repeatedly many in their ranks are Democrats and independents." Farah not only offers no proof of this, he fails to note O'Neill's history of donations to Republican candidates.
Remember, this is the head of WND writing this article, so you know WND's Kerry smears come from approval the top. If an article like this that is so insufficiently documented and fact-check can go out under the boss' name, imagine what the rest of the organization is capable of.
The answer, as it turns out, is a poorly reported history lesson. An Aug. 23 WND article -- again, under Farah's byline -- states that Khmer Rouge forces could not have fired on Kerry in late 1968/early 1969, as Kerry has claimed, because "The Khmer Rouge were unheard of in 1968 and 1969 and began their guerrilla campaigns to topple the Cambodia government in 1970 ... according to a variety of historians who have chronicled Pol Pot's eventual genocidal reign." Farah offers no names of these "historians."
It could be because they don't exist. Jim Boyd, a writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, did some fact-checking on a letter to the paper making similar claims. His response: "The Khmer Rouge, military wing of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, began its armed combat against the government of Prince Norhodom Sihanouk in 1967."
Somebody's lying here. Farah has a history of telling lies about Kerry and his wife. We'll go with Boyd.
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While we're on the subject of WorldNetDaily's lies about Kerry, WND still can't get the facts straight about Teresa Heinz Kerry's philanthropy.
"An anarchist group planning disruptions at next week's Republican National Convention in New York gets funding from ... a foundation chaired by Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of the Democratic Party presidential nominee," an unbylined Aug. 23 story states.
As ConWebWatch has demonstrated previously, that's a lie. The story leaves the impression that Heinz Kerry is the chairman of the Tides Foundation when she's not. And even if you generously interpret it otherwise, saying that she has funded an "anarchist group" is a lie because all of the Heinz endowment money given to Tides has been earmarked for specific environmental projects in Pennsylvania.
Poor Joseph Farah just doesn't get it. For all of his years in journalism, he still hasn't grasped the most basic rule of all: if your news organization continually presents lies as fact -- and easily refuted lies at that -- people will stop trusting you and stop reading what you have to offer. You'd think that WND's Alexa ratings plunge from No. 419 less than a year ago to No. 1,600 at this writing would be a sign of that for him.
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Another WND tactic endorsed by Farah -- declare your non-support for George W. Bush, then lay into Kerry. Columnist Vox Day tries that approach in his Aug. 23 WND column.
"I believe George Bush is a traitor to the American people and their Constitution. I believe he should be impeached for sacrificing American sovereignty to supra-national organizations and I suspect that he would be perfectly content to establish a neo-fascist corporatist state in which the government was allowed to trample individual liberties," he starts. "Now, have I sufficiently established my anti-Bush bona fides to write about John Kerry without being accused of being a Republican lapdog?"
Day then goes on to smear Kerry as "Krazy John."
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NewsMax's Dave Eberhart delivered an Aug. 16 endorsement of "Unfit for Command" that, surprisingly, is less than ringing.
Sure, Eberhart delivers may of the breathless goods we expect from NewsMax, with overheated prose like: "After putting down the book, letting the cordite clouds clear, and waiting for the ringing in the ears to stop, some readers will certainly be left shell-shocked and wondering perhaps if Kerry is a good bet for dog-catcher, much less the Leader of the Free World." He also can't figure out how to spell John O'Neill's name.
Eberhart calls one part of the book "Not exactly the stuff of 'incontrovertible and conclusive evidence' as promised by the authors." Another place he writes, "the reader wants to know more more particulars, more facts."
Fortunately for O'Neill, Corsi and NewsMax, Eberhart devises an excuse for the latter: "If the authors come up short in that department, they blame it on Kerry for not signing a blanket authority for those concerned to be able to view all his records, not just a selected few."
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NewsMax also allowed "Unfit for Command" coauthor Jerome Corsi to defend himself. The problem is, like many suspect bout his book, he seems to be making up a few things.
Corsi "was trashed by the big media as an anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic bigot," an Aug. 24 story claims, despite the alleged fact that "he's a Catholic himself who once tried to create a fund for Israel."
"I'm Catholic and I'm a longtime supporter of Jewish causes," Corsi added. "Can you blame me for getting tired of hearing I'm anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic?"
Well, when you call the pope "senile" and priests boy-buggerers, people will tend to think you're anti-Catholic. But where's Corsi getting this anti-Semitic stuff from?
Not from Media Matters for America, which first broke the news of Corsi's extreme statements. The only reference to at all to Jews in Media Matters' report is in one statement Corsi made: "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal gradparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?" And that was intended much more as a smear of Kerry than of Jews. (Full disclosure: I am an employee of Media Matters.)
The NewsMax article continues in Corsi's tradition of dubious statements by claiming that the attack on him was "based on a few brief comments posted to the web site FreeRepublic.com" and were, of course, "taken out of context, and were meant as satire that was designed to provoke a response."
The Media Matters article collects 35 examples of Corsi's extreme statements, not "a few brief comments." And Corsi has yet to explain for us uninformed folks the proper context and subtleties of the satirical form for calling the pope "senile," or spewing names like "John F*ing Commie Kerry" and "Chubbie Chelsea" or making a statement like "Too bad the plane didn't crash into the TV set of the NBC show 'THE LEFT WING' -- especially when Martin Sheen was 'acting.'"
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An interesting idea of "balance" at CNSNews.com. An Aug. 19 article by Susan Jones ostensibly about John Kerry releasing an new ad to counter the Swift Boat Veterans includes a transcript of the entire text of the Swift Boat Veterans ad, though Jones doesn't offer a similar transcript of Kerry's ad.
Jones also sticks at the end the following vaguely written statement: "A recent study indicated that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad has struck a nerve among some independent voters who had been leaning toward Kerry." Jones is presumably referring to a study by HCD Research/Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.
That study, as Media Matters discovered, has a big flaw: the total sample was just 371 people, and only 62 of them were the "independent voters" that Jones cites. Of those 62, eight people "definitely" changed their mind about Kerry, and seven fewer people were defined as "leaning" toward Kerry. Hardly a scientific sample.
No wonder Jones wrote it so vaguely.
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Then and Now, Swift Boat Veterans edition:
"The Heinz Foundations say all grants were issued for environmental and economic development projects in western Pennsylvania, where Teresa Heinz Kerry has spent much of her adult life. However, donors to the Tides Foundation pay approximately 10 percent above and beyond the amount grant recipients get for administrative fees and overhead to Tides. Therefore, critics say, it is accurate to say that donors to Tides are indeed supporting all of its causes."
--WorldNetDaily, Aug. 10
"The Kerry campaign said the flyer indicates a rally in Gainesville this weekend is sponsored in part by 'Swift Boat Vets for Truth.' The format of the flyer gives that impression, but it does not mention sponsorship and only specifies that the event will include readings from 'Unfit for Command.'"
-- WorldNetDaily, Aug. 21
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"If proven charges of trying to murder someone in 1987 -- 13 years ago -- should "stay in the past," why shouldn’t unsubstantiated allegations about a more minor offense, which supposedly took place twice as long ago, also be forgotten? ... So, will CBS News prove what journalists have so far "failed to corroborate" or just publicize a reckless allegation?'
-- Brent Baker, Media Research Center, Feb. 12, 2000, on J.H. Hatfield, author of "Fortunate Son," a book critical of George W. Bush
"CBS on Tuesday night tried to discredit some Vietnam veterans critical of John Kerry by impugning them as partisan activists tied to the Bush campaign, though the only link seems to be a public relations firm involved in the 2000 campaign, and tarring all of them with the supposed dirty work for Richard Nixon of one. Very McCarthyistic."
-- Brent Baker, Media Research Center, May 5,