Accuracy in Media

Dr. Arthur B. Robinson, Research Professor at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, points out that people in America die and get injured in large numbers from a variety of causes. For example, he notes that the number of deaths per month from the use of all-terrain vehicles, ATVs, had been about the same as Marine and Army deaths in combat in Iraq. He adds, “The deaths in Iraq are, however, helpful to the media in their campaign to defeat George Bush. Deaths that do not serve media purposes are, of course, irrelevant and unreported.”

MSNBC-TV, now under the direction of its new president, former Clinton associate and former CNN president Rick Kaplan, took the lead, running repeated stories about “the coffin photo controversy” after an employee for a military contractor took and released some photos of flag-draped caskets and the Air Force mistakenly released others. Most news media quickly published or aired them.

Although the photos showed honor and respect for the war dead, they had been withheld because repatriation ceremonies were considered private affairs for the families.

“Pictures of flag-draped coffins could kill Bush re-election hopes,” declared The Guardian of Britain. 

MSNBC hyped the controversy, running a “Question of the Day” on April 23 that was, “Should the Administration allow pictures/video of returning [military] coffins to be shown in the media?”

Then, MSNBC showed Marvin Kalb, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, claiming the government was “trying to control the image of the war” by not publicizing the ceremonies. On the other hand, he said that “we all know people are being killed in Iraq.”

Yes, we know that brave soldiers are giving their lives. So media exploitation of the photos is clearly designed to undermine support for the war by emphasizing the cost in blood. Kaplan, who left CNN when the network came under fire for smearing U.S. military personnel in the infamous “Tailwind” controversy, knows exactly what he is doing.

MSNBC’s assault continued on April 25, when anchor Alex Witt returned to the “casket-photo ban” and interviewed Sue Niederer, the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq who has become an anti-war activist and wants an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. She wants the military casket photos publicized because “This hits the American people harder.”

Witt failed to mention that Niederer was part of an April 14 press conference, sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, a group led by Leslie Cagan, a Marxist activist who co-chairs a group associated with the old Communist Party USA, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. By contrast, Blue Star Mothers, who have or have had children serving in the military, says the best way to bring the troops home is to give them full support so their mission is ultimately victorious.

The media were so anxious to get the caskets on the air that news organizations misrepresented some of the photos that had been obtained and released by an Internet website. Victims from the space shuttle Columbia explosion last year were confused by some media as American war dead from Iraq.

The media demanding the “right” to show the coffins were noticeably silent about the government withholding pictures of the dead body of former Clinton White house lawyer Vincent Foster. In that case, most of the media (with the notable exception of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) took the side of those arguing that releasing the photos would violate the privacy of the Foster family. The Foster photos were part of a crime-scene investigation and could have shed light on whether Foster was murdered or committed suicide.

If the media are truly interested in injury and death, what about the alarming figures on ATV accidents and deaths? Between 1982 and 2001, at least 4,541 Americans were killed while riding ATVs. Robinson notes that, in 2002, there were about 110,000 emergency-room-treated injuries from ATV accidents. Or consider that more than 40,000 Americans are killed every year in the U.S. in car accidents and that 3.5 million more are seriously injured in crashes. But showing dead or injured bodies from car or ATV accidents doesn’t serve the anti-Bush political agenda of the media. There is no political payoff in that coverage.     

Kerry Beats The Press

While President Bush was criticized by many for his appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert, New York Times reporter Jodi Wilgoren was satisfied with John Kerry’s appearance on April 19. Her article in the Times declared that, “He appeared well prepared for the forum and avoided verbal stumbles, correctly pronouncing the name of the United Nations’ envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, which he had mangled three times in recent days. Hours later, at the University of Miami, Mr. Kerry goofed again, referring to the envoy as ‘Brandini.’” So Kerry on at least four occasions has mispronounced the name of a top U.N. official? If President Bush had made such a series of bloopers, would the Times still say that he was “well prepared?”

Kerry Defends Bogus Charges

At the very end of the story, the Times mentioned an “awkward moment,” when host Tim Russert confronted him about his claim during a TV appearance 33 years ago that U.S. commanders and troops in Vietnam were guilty of war crimes. The Times said that Kerry wore an “odd grin” when he responded by asking why his dark hair had turned gray. The Times ignored another awkward moment?when Kerry called himself stupid for once saying that U.S. troops should only be deployed at the directive of the U.N.

Kerry told Russert that “a lot” of stories about U.S. troops committing atrocities in Vietnam had been “documented.” But Kerry didn’t name one, and Russert didn’t ask for any documentation. The Washington Post admitted on February 21?in a story back on page 5?that many of the stories “have never been verified?and some have been disproven.” The story noted that Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley calls the atrocity stories “greatly exaggerated.”

Why did Kerry make such charges against his fellow soldiers? The Boston Globe reported that Kerry came back from Vietnam and turned against the war when he thought it could benefit him politically. It said that Kerry “found that being a veteran could be a drawback?” when he was looking for a congressional district in Massachusetts to run for Congress.

On the other hand, Russert did bring up the charge by one of Kerry’s commanding officers in Vietnam that Kerry’s first Purple Heart wasn’t earned. The Boston Globe disclosed that retired Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibbard said that Kerry’s wound “resembled a scrape from a fingernail.” Hibbard said that he couldn’t even be certain whether Kerry actually came under fire. Kerry told Russert the controversy was all “politics” and that the Navy had decided he earned the Purple Heart. 

Russert dropped the ball on several other occasions. He had a good question about Kerry’s criticism of Bush and the Iraq policy in view of Kerry’s statement that he would quit issuing complaints about the war once Americans were on the battlefield. Kerry had said that similar criticism had undermined the morale of U.S. troops fighting in the Vietnam War. Kerry responded that his statement about refraining from criticizing Iraq policy was only good until U.S. troops “had taken control of the country.” But Russert then let the matter slip away, not pointing out that U.S. troops are still fighting and dying to take control of the country and that inflammatory rhetoric continues to hurt troop morale.

Russert also ignored the explosive release of FBI documents showing that Kerry lied about participating in a meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) where some discussed assassinating members of the U.S. Congress.

This is the group, represented by anti-American activist Ramsey Clark, which worked to end the war on the terms advanced by the communist enemy in Hanoi. Demonstrating that neither person has changed much over the years, Clark told AIM that he would vote for Kerry for president.

Medical Records Cover-Up

On April 26, a minor controversy emerged over Kerry having said that he threw his military medals away when he actually discarded the ribbons. ABC’s Charles Gibson pressed Kerry on his conflicting statements on the matter. More serious, however, was Kerry’s continued concealment of his military medical records. He let a few selected reporters traveling with him on the campaign trail examine them for only 30 minutes.

As the New York Times admitted, “Just 19 reporters, the reporters who cover the campaign and not medical writers, viewed the documents. No photographs were allowed.” A sanitized summary was given to everyone else.

Dr. Gerald J. Doyle, Kerry’s doctor for the past 18 years, had summarized 35 pages of “Kerry’s personal copies of his military medical records.” When this summary was released, the AP story led with the report that, “John Kerry has a piece of shrapnel in his left thigh from an injury he suffered in the Vietnam War?”

But that wasn’t the issue. The most controversial wound that he received was for that first Purple Heart. The doctor describes it this way: “December 1968, U.S. Naval Support Facility Cam Rahn Bay RVN FPO. Shrapnel in left arm above elbow. Shrapnel removed and appl bacitracin dressing. Ret To Duty.”

Purple Hearts are supposed to be awarded for being wounded in action by enemy fire and requiring medical attention. But this wound looks so superficial as not to require medical attention. It’s not clear if the “shrapnel” was identified by medical personnel or Kerry himself. No stitches were required. 

Jay Leno on The Tonight Show ridiculed “Republicans [who] are suggesting John Kerry actually tried to win three Purple Hearts in Vietnam because he knew when he won three, he could get to go home early. What an easy way to get out of combat, to let yourself get shot three times…” But, of course, the controversy is whether Kerry actually got shot in getting that first Purple Heart.

Release The Records!

On the website HanoiJohnKerry.com, a petition is available for signing which seeks release of Kerry’s complete military medical records, noting that “there is legitimate reason to inquire regarding the seriousness of those wounds; how and under what circumstances were they received; and who (what qualified medical service personnel) verified and described the wounds into the medical record.”

The petition goes on to say, “Perhaps most significantly, it was by virtue of the three Purple Heart medals that Lt. (jg) Kerry was able to employ an obscure option in Naval regulations that allowed him to cut short his Swift Boat tour in Vietnam to an extraordinarily brief four months. Vietnam Veterans who served their full tours, or whose tours were necessarily shortened by much more severe wounding, are quite entitled to know the nature of the wounding that allowed a possible future Commander in Chief of the United States to so glaringly abbreviate his own tour of duty.”

Kerry’s Curious Collaborators

The FBI documents, posted by Judicial Watch on its website, also show that members of VVAW were close to the Communist Party USA and collaborated with communist North Vietnam.
The FBI documents refer to the “possible violence-prone posture” of VVAW and how the group is coming under “subversive influence or control.” Critics might say this is just heated rhetoric from an FBI that was determined to discredit the anti-war movement, but the facts in the documents demonstrate why this group came under surveillance.

The documents on several occasions report that Kerry believed that one of the founders of VVAW, Al Hubbard, who claimed to be a decorated Vietnam vet, had never served in Vietnam and had never been a member of the military. One document says, “John Kerry again attempted to have Al Hubbard voted off the executive committee as Kerry stated he did not think Hubbard ever served in Vietnam or was ever in service.” But the FBI reported that “Hubbard has strong backing in the VVAW organization since he is one of the original founders and is friendly with most of the executive committee members.” Kerry and Hubbard appeared together on Meet the Press on behalf of the VVAW.

Who was Al Hubbard? He may have been more than a phony vet; the FBI documents refer to his travels abroad and association with the Communist Party USA.

The Communist Connection

One document discusses Hub-bard’s visit to Paris to meet with representatives of communist North Vietnam. Hubbard is quoted as saying the communists invited him and members of the then-Moscow-funded Communist Party USA. A document reports that Hubbard even said his trip to Paris “was financed by the CPUSA.” The document says that Hubbard was trying to arrange for VVAW to accept American POWs released by Hanoi.

There are two references in the FBI documents to VVAW members making propaganda tapes for Radio Hanoi. One document says, “Tapes would be sent from the United States to North Vietnam to broadcast over Radio Hanoi to get U.S. servicemen to stop fighting in Vietnam?”  One VVAW employee is said to have traveled to Hanoi in August 1971 “and talked with several North Vietnam representatives. He said the reason for his trip to Hanoi ties in with the international action of active duty people to demonstrate against the Vietnam war.”

John Kerry’s involvement in such a group is very troubling. It is far more controversial than the President’s National Guard record. As one of the FBI documents put it, VVAW had moved beyond “legitimate antiwar protest” to becoming a security threat to the U.S. And Kerry was a big part of it.

Whether he threw his medals and ribbons away or not, and whether he earned his first Purple Heart or not, the facts about anti-war activist John Kerry are quite extraordinary.

He was at a meeting where Vietnam Veterans Against the War discussed killing members of Congress. His testimony before Congress blasted fellow soldiers as war criminals who raped women and cut peoples’ heads off. He attended anti-war rallies with Jane Fonda and his group collaborated with Hanoi and the Communist Party USA. Kerry’s VVAW was instrumental in causing the collapse of the war effort and the communist victory.

CBS News Helps Kerry

But none of that was highlighted on April 22, when the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather promised the “inside story” of how Kerry had supposedly changed his views since that time. 
Thirty-three years to the day when Kerry delivered his Senate testimony opposing the war, CBS Evening News correspondent Jim Stewart said Kerry “cursed the war he fought in and the men who sent him there.” That’s only partly true. Kerry also cursed those who fought with him, accusing fellow soldiers of unspeakable crimes.

On the CBS News website, the Stewart story was headlined, “Kerry Reflects On Anti-War Past.” That captures the essence of the story?an attempt to let Kerry define himself, so that embarrassing questions about his activities are not raised by the media. Here’s how Stewart put it: “Today, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee is still chewing that day over in his mind, still trying to explain the path that led him from war hero to anti-war activist.” Stewart said Kerry “wishes he’d done some things differently.” Kerry declared, “I was young and it was an emotional time and we were all caught up in it. I wish I’d sort of paid greater tribute to some of the service of people and drawn the line in a better way.”

But Kerry did not do so. In fact, he helped bring the war to a close?on the terms dictated by Hanoi. Then, as a Senator, Kerry helped cover up the issue of   American POWS/MIAs from that war and fought to open diplomatic and trade relations with the communist regime. This is how Kerry “paid greater tribute” to those who fought and died to keep Vietnam free of communism? This part of the record was conveniently ignored by Stewart.

Kerry told Stewart that HE was the victim. “I did pay a price,” said Kerry, “and I took 10 years of my life, paid my dues, worked to help other people and ran for office ten years later.” The record shows, however, that he became an anti-war activist because he thought it would help get him elected to public office. When he initially lost a race for Congress, he persisted in his efforts to get elected.

Helping The Sandinistas

As a Senator, he repeated his horrific mistakes after Vietnam by trying to negotiate the survival of the communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and opposing President Ronald Reagan’s policy of supporting anti-communist forces throughout Central America to counter a Soviet and Cuban thrust into America’s back yard. In that case, fortunately, Reagan’s policy triumphed, and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas lost power. This, too, was ignored by Stewart.

Concluding the piece, Stewart said, “And now he surrounds himself with fellow veterans and reminds voters of his Silver Star in a bid for the office he felt once let him down.” Yes, Kerry runs on his war record, which is itself a subject of dispute and controversy, and wants the public to forget about his vile charges against his fellow soldiers.

To top it off, Stewart consulted liberal Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant, who was at the hearing 33 years ago, for his view. Kerry “was certain that whatever happened after that week he would never have a chance at a political career because of the stands he’d take,” Oliphant told CBS News.

But Kerry not only got a political career, he has an excellent chance at the highest office in the land because of the adoration and admiration that exist for him in the media.
He hopes to do this by blasting the Bush record of liberating two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, with only about 800 American soldiers dead. By contrast, Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson conceived the no-win strategy that ultimately cost 58,000 American lives in Vietnam.

Kerry, however, calls that “Nixon’s war.” The media play along with this slander of a president whose plan to withdraw the U.S. honorably from the conflict and keep South Vietnam free was sabotaged by a liberal Congress that included Kerry’s associate, friend, and mentor, Senator Ted Kennedy.




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