Let's give Nick Kristof credit for trying. He flacked for the "Texans for Truth" for their first ad without making any attempt to research the star of their new commercial. He gave space to a college prof who has been bashing Bush for years. But in an attempt to be "fair and balanced" he has now decided to present an even handed assessment of the claims made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
We scored a (very weak) correction with his column about Bob Mintz of the "Texans for Truth"; we have high hopes of scoring two more with this one. Let's do the corrections first:
Did Mr. Kerry deserve his Bronze Star? Yes. The Swift Boat Veterans claim that he was not facing enemy fire when he rescued a Green Beret, Jim Rassmann, but that is contradicted by those were there, like William Rood and Mr. Rassmann (a Republican). In fact, Mr. Rassmann recommended Mr. Kerry for a Silver Star.
Mr. Rood was a Swift Boat skipper who presented his viewpoint on Kerry's Silver Star incident. In fact, he said this:
I was part of the operation that led to Kerry's Silver Star. I have no firsthand knowledge of the events that resulted in his winning the Purple Hearts or the Bronze Star.
That should be one correction.
Back to Kristof:
What do those who served with him say? Some who served on other boats have called Mr. Kerry a hypochondriac self-promoter. But every enlisted man who was with Mr. Kerry on various boats when he won Purple Hearts and Silver and Bronze Stars says he deserved them. All praise his courage and back his candidacy.
What about Steve Gardner, who served with Kerry on PCF-44, and now appears in some Swift Boat ads?
Here is Douglas Brinkley's hatchet job on Gardner.
Now, we should acknowldege that Kristof may have deliberately crafted his staement in a way that is misleading, but accurate, by including the qualification about "various boats when he won Purple Hearts and Silver and Bronze Stars." The typical reader may simply read that as a highlighting of Kerry's laudable record, mentally rewriting the sentence to become, "every enlisted man who was with Kerry while he was serving heroically...". However, because Kerry never won a medal while on PCF-44, maybe Gardner has been disqualified on an odd technicality. Since the other men of PCF-44 appeared at the Democratic Convention, however, I think Kristof is being a lawyer rather than a journalist if he thinks his column is accurate on this point. I am also surprised, frankly, by the on-again, off-again research skills that could have him presenting this crafty phrase about Gardner while misplacing Rood.
My very general comment - if the liberal media had taken these Swiftees seriously from the outset, and seriously investigated their claims, the debunkings would have been more credible.
And here is the question Kristof does not ask (although Don Imus did!) - has John Kerry fulfilled his promise to release all of his military records, and why won'the sign the Form 180 that would authorize reporters to verify his claims? How long does Kristof think that Times readers can be sheltered from the truth?
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Nick Kristof : firstname.lastname@example.org
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ANOTEHR UPDATE: Props to the Captain for a NY Post piece on Kerry's Vietnam puzzles.