Accuracy in Media

Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler has tried to explain why the paper for several days ignored the controversy over the rumor about Senator John Kerry having a bimbo. The Post ignored the story even when Kerry issued a denial. Getler’s column was published in response to a reader who wondered about the handling of the Kerry story in contrast to the relentless pounding of Bush over questions about his service in the National Guard. Ironically, on the same day Getler’s column appeared, the Post published yet another story about Bush and the National Guard. The story dealt with rumors and speculation. So the Post policy is clear: there is one standard for Bush, another for Kerry.

In the Kerry matter, the Post waited a week before publishing anything about the rumor. By contrast, stories about Bush’s National Guard service 30 years ago, some of them on page one, have been running for weeks, carrying such headlines as, “Many Gaps in Bush’s Guard Record.”

Meanwhile, on February 21 the Post finally published a story?back on page 5?about how Kerry came back from Vietnam and accused his fellow soldiers of war crimes. The Post noted that many atrocity stories told by Kerry before a Senate committee “have never been verified?and some have been disproven.” The story noted that Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley calls the atrocity stories “greatly exaggerated” but a Kerry spokesman refused to admit they were false. 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.

Vietnam veteran Larry J. O’Daniel has challenged Kerry to “come clean” about those phony atrocity stories. O’Daniel, a decorated combat veteran and Director of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition, says that, “On the surface, he seems to be the exact type of rival needed to run against a popular President?On the surface, Kerry would seem to be able to cut into the military vote that has become increasingly one-party over the past 30 years?However, thirty-three years ago, Kerry charged decorated war veterans with unspeakable crimes. Those charges were false and the Senator knew them to be false.”

Concerning President Bush’s service in the National Guard, O’Daniel says that, “National Guard service is a necessary service and someone has to fill the slot. Reserve time is necessary and someone has to fill the slot. All is honorable?”

That honorable service continues to be scrutinized by the Post on a regular and ongoing basis. By contrast, the paper stonewalled the Kerry bimbo rumor and glosses over the matter of Kerry making false allegations against his fellow soldiers while they were fighting and dying on the battlefield. The pattern has been established: the Post will seize on anything to use against Bush but will tread lightly when it comes to Kerry’s lack of credibility.




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