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Still AWOL, Part 3: Adding Smear to Whitewash

NewsMax continues to hide behind the skirts of the New York Times on Bush's military service, but now it's added a dose of Kerry-bashing.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/2/2004
Updated 2/3/2004

NewsMax is continuing to rely on an incomplete New York Times as the ultimate authority on George W. Bush's Bush National Guard service -- but now it's adding some similarly incomplete information about John Kerry.

As ConWebWatch has previously noted, the Times, the avatar of NewsMax's vision of the "liberal media," is now NewsMax's strange bedfellow on this issue, despite the fact that other research has proven the Times report incomplete. NewsMax has thus far refused to do its own investigation of the matter, though it was all over alleged "draft dodging" by Bill Clinton despite the fact Clinton was never drafted. (NewsMax's newfound faith in the Times, though didn't stop it from doing a little hatchet job on it Jan. 29 because it allegedly "always looked down its nose at conservatives and preferred to pretend they don't exist. After all, they don't exist in the rarefied little world of the Times' movers and shakers." That shows just how disingenuous and shallow NewsMax's faith in the Times is.)

Related articles on ConWebWatch:

Dereliction of Duty

Still AWOL After All These Years

A Jan. 31 story complains that "The campaign of presidential front-runner John Kerry is echoing the same bogus charges about President Bush's military service that destroyed the credibility of Gen. Wesley Clark earlier this month." Clark's support by Michael Moore, who called Bush a "deserter" and prompted NewsMax's refuge in the Times, hardly "destroyed the credibility" of Clark; most sentient beings understand Moore does not speak for Clark, even if NewsMax doesn't.

NewsMax, meanwhile, insists that "the Times own investigation four years ago disproved the allegation, when it uncovered records showing that Bush had made up the time he missed in Alabama with the permission of his superiors."

Yet, there is no documentation that has been released publicly that explicitly says that. The closest has been a document allegedly from Bush's Guard file that details points earned toward his service, but the document is torn and has no identifying information other than a "W."

If the specific evidence exonerating Bush is so compelling, NewsMax would have provided it to its readers by now instead of cowering behind the skirts of a news organization it has long despised.

But even NewsMax can't admit Bush's record is clean when it quotes that the Times allegedly proves that "Bush had made up the time he missed in Alabama with the permission of his superiors." NewsMax thus admist that Bush missed Guard time in Alabama, but offers no proof that he had permission to do so.

The NewsMax article then adds that "President Bush received an honorable discharge from the Guard in Sept. 1973, something military experts say would not have been possible if he had gone AWOL." Again, NewsMax puts the best possible spin on this without supporting evidence, refusing to factor in things like preferential treatment as the son of a congressman.

(Update: The Washington Post summarized the situation in a Feb. 3 article: While there is no actual, physical proof Bush showed up for any Guard duty between April 1972 and May 1973, there's also no proof he didn't, so the era remains a blank spot. If Bush was a Democrat, NewsMax would be interpreting this blank spot much differently.

And Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler summarizes the problem with the Times' reporting: The documents it relies on that allegedly document the president's Guard service have never been made public. Since NewsMax is such good buds with the Times on this issue, perhaps it can coax those documents away and post them so we can all know.)

Then, its Bush whitewash complete, "Carl Limbacher and staff" zero in on Kerry:

Some former Vietnam vets - including several who served with Kerry during the war - have complained about his depiction of them as war criminals.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, Kerry - then a leader with the radical group Vietnam Veterans Against the War - said his fellow soldiers had "personally raped [Vietnamese civilians], cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

That is an incomplete, misleading quote, the type of which we've come to expect from NewsMax by now.

As pointed out by the American Prospect's Tapped weblog, when the Washington Times' Wesley Pruden got caught doing the same thing, Kerry was paraphrasing what "over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to" some months before his Senate testimony -- none of which has been proven incorrect as far as anybody knows. NewsMax insists that Kerry's words are "outrageous," but that's only because it refuses to tell the whole story.

Again, NewsMax is deceiving its readers by not printing the complete truth, and again nobody is surprised.

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