Update: Military History = Kerry-Bashing
A group's "non-political" conference on Vietnam has speakers with a history of attacking John Kerry. Plus: The ConWeb on the Sandy Berger, WorldNetDaily figures out a way to get tax-deductible contributions, the truth about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and more.
By Terry Krepel
A July 23 WorldNetDaily story reports that "A military-history organization is sponsoring a conference in Boston during the Democratic National Convention it hopes will dispel some of the "myths" anti-war activists, including candidate John Kerry, have spread about the Vietnam War."
The story also claims that the conference is "a veteran-funded, nonprofit, multicultural and non-political event," though it's unclear how it can be “non-political” and aimed at countering Kerry, as the story’s headline indicates.
The conflict grows when one looks at a couple of the conference presenters. One session is called "Winter Soldier Investigation and the Myth of the Vietnam Veteran" and is presented by Scott Swett, director of the Free Republic Network, the conservative bulletin board’s activism arm. He also runs a site called WinterSoldier.com, dedicated to attacking Kerry; he claims that "Senator Kerry has a long history of working with individuals and organizations hostile to American interests."
NewsMax has reprinted excerpts of Burkett’s book "Stolen Valor," a book about the war. "Mr. Burkett's work has toppled national political leaders and put criminals in jail," according to the blurb for the book at the NewsMax store.
The Web site for the conference yields a few clues. It's being put on by something called the RADIX Foundation, but the site offers few clues as to what exactly the foundation is or does beyond saying that it was incorporated in April and claims a purpose to " preserve military history and lore and to promote the understanding of military history as seen through the eyes of its participants." It has an interesting fund-raising strategy -- seeking money from Vietnam veterans who are also graduates of Harvard Business School.
The whole thing seems a bit murky except for the Kerry-bashing history of the presenters.
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You know a story is important to the ConWeb when it writes stories about how the so-called liberal media is underplaying it. That happened with the mini-scandal over Sandy Berger's taking of notes and classified documents prior to the September 11 Commission hearings.
A July 20 WorldNetDaily story complains that the initial story on the "startling revelations" about Berger "was buried on page A-16 in today's edition of the New York Times."
NewsMax also attacked the Times' placement of the Berger story, calling it further evidence that the Times is "the Democrat establishment's house organ." The article adds that "The Times then compounded its embarrassment by refusing to correct on its Web site the print edition's catastrophic bias" by not promoting a link to the Berger story to NewsMax’s satisfaction.
CNSNews.com gives a rundown of the placement of the Berger story in a few papers. The July 20 story is headlined "Sandy Berger Not Front Page News in Some Major Newspapers" even though writer Susan Jones doesn't actually get to that until late in the story, spending most of it summarizing the case.
Jones dropped the rundown again in a story the next day in a story quoting former Clinton adviser and current ABC TV host George Stephanopoulos as saying that reports that Berger alleged stuffed documents into his pants and socks made the story bigger than it was.
The Media Research Center’s Times Watch site went somewhat easy on the alleged burial of the initial story -- “The Times' earlier coverage of the Berger fiasco also leaves something to be desired,” wrote Clay Waters -- in favor of criticizing its coverage the next day.
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Another month, another plea for money from WorldNetDaily.
Among the claims in Joseph Farah’s July 13 missive that “WND is constantly under siege, under attack” and “I think I speak for the entire WND team when I say we believe in the power of prayer” is his oft-repeated claim that WND is “the No. 1 independent source of news on the Net.”
Keep that “independent” claim in mind when you read Farah’s claim about the WND-published attack book "The Many Faces of John Kerry" that "This book has the potential to save the nation from disaster."
What is the American Studies Center is? We're not sure -- the Radio America site offers no link to it, and Google turns up nothing relevant. It's even more mysterious than the RADIX Foundation. It may be that the only thing the American Studies Center does is radio syndication -- which seems like a strange thing for a nonprofit group to be doing, especially if it's accepting advertising for its programming. That seems to be the case, given the suggestion in the July 12 plea that "If you have a business that could profit from exposure before this well-targeted market of freedom-loving Americans, consider sponsorship of the program."
Recurring themes at WND:
Non-disclosure of financial interest in story subject. A July 23 story quoting David Bossie on the Sandy Berger purloined documents mini-scandal links to two books Bossie published (including the aforementioned Kerry book) but failed to state that WND published them.
Factually deficient book promotion. The ConWeb has a habit of promoting book rankings at Amazon.com to promote sales at their own stores, which don't affect the Amazon list. WND does it again with a July 15 puff piece on the latest book by Mike Evans, "The American Prophecies," which it claims "replaced Bill Clinton's 'My Life' at the bookseller's No. 2 sales spot and now has advanced to No. 1."
WND doesn't say what prompted that sales jump and something, whether an ad or an attempt to game the rankings, always does preclude a sales jump like that but at this writing, "The American Prophecies" was ranked at No. 291 at Amazon.
The WND article claims that "Evans' previous book, 'Beyond Iraq,' came out of nowhere last year to knock Hillary Clinton's 'Living History' out of Amazon's No. 2 slot." That, as ConWebWatch has documented, is true only if you don't count an full-page ad in USA Today as "nowhere."
Since it worked so well last time, it would be logical to assume that another ad shot Evans' new book up the charts. Not that we can count on WND to tell us the full story.
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CNSNews.com moves up a bit they are admitting that there might be some controversy around the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth.
Way far down at the end of a July 14 story by Robert Bluey on the group, someone is actually quoted as saying that the Swift Boat Veterans have "a partisan motive" -- followed, of course, by a denial from a group member.
While Bluey refuses to actually detail the group's partisan connections -- the links of its creator, John O'Neill, to a Nixon administration campaign to discredit Kerry’s anti-war statements in the early 1970s and his business ties to Merrie Spaeth, the group's PR rep -- that's an improvement over CNS’ original coverage of the group, when Bluey and Susan Jones didn't mention it at all.