Posted by Curt on 4 June, 2006 at 8:50 pm. 1 comment.

Thomas Lipscomb knocks another one out of the park in his rebuttal to Kate Zernike’s story in the New York Times entitled:

Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss

This story was published on Memorial Day and as Thomas documents, is so full of holes a libel suit is warranted by one of the principals involved:

Kate Zernike’s story on the front page of the Memorial Day Sunday New York Times, “Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss,” is an unfortunate reminder of the Times’s embarrassingly poor coverage of Kerry in the face of the Swift Boat Veterans’ for Truth charges in the 2004 election. Now as then, the Times acts as if the issues involved were between Kerry’s latest representations of his record and the “unsubstantiated” charges of the Swift Boat group. The Times used the term “unsubstantiated” more than twenty times during its election coverage and continues to make no discernable effort to examine any of the charges in detail.

But there was plenty of evidence in the work of other news organizations that some of the charges, and the Kerry military records themselves, were worth examining seriously. I found numerous problems with Kerry’s records on his website in my own reporting for the Chicago Sun-Times: a Silver Star with a V for valor listed that the Navy stated it had never awarded in the history of the US Navy, three separate medal citations with some heavy revisions in Kerry’s favor signed by former Navy Secretary John Lehman who denied ever signing them, to name two.

Additionally I found by examining the message traffic with experts that when the Swift Boat Vets charged that Kerry had written the Bay Hap after action report, by which he received his bronze star and the third purple heart that was his ticket out of Vietnam, the evidence showed that it was indeed probably written by Kerry himself. Zernike seems to have totally missed this in her reporting. Zernike is content to refer to Kerry’s claim that “original reports pulled from the naval archives contradict the charge that he drafted his own accounts of various incidents,” none of which she cites, provides, or analyzes.

Zernike appears to have made no effort to look at any record besides listing Kerry’s latest assertions with obligatory quotes from the usual Swiftie suspects to provide “balance.”

He goes on to detail the inconsistencies in Kate’s writing regarding the “hat” incident. You know the one where he pulls out a hat and shows it to a reporter (Laura Blumenfeld) stating it was given to him by the CIA. This time, and a few years later he shows it to Kate and says it was given to him by “special operations team” member while on a secret “mission that records say was to insert Navy Seals” in February.

[…]The mission Kerry described to Laura Blumenfeld was the famous “Christmas in Cambodia” trip since disproved by Kerry’s own log. Zernike ledes with “showing the entry in a log he kept from 1969: ‘Feb 12: 0800 run to Cambodia'” and swallows it unquestioningly. The only authority that “Kerry log” has ever had is that it has been in the sole possession of John Kerry and carefully kept away from objective research that may or not have disclosed changes or heavy editing over time.

He then details the bias that most of us have know quite intimately when it comes to the MSM:

Zernike makes much of the support of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth “backed by Republican donors and consultants,” which indeed it was. But she shows no interest in who is backing “the Patriot Project” challenging the Swift Vets claims “formed by Kerry supporters” since February 2005 that is the occasion for her story. She even passes on the following at face value: “Kerry portrays himself as a wary participant in his own defense, insisting in the two-hour interview that he does not want to dwell on the accusations or the mistakes of his 2004 campaign. ‘I’m moving on,’ he says several times.”

That will certainly come as a surprise to anyone reading this story which lays down a lot of unproven statements as fact, unproven and unconfirmed by Kate Zernike, such as: “Naval records and accounts from other sailors contradicted almost every claim they made, and some members of the group who had earlier praised Mr. Kerry’s heroism contradicted themselves.” Please note this is not a statement of position from a Kerry advocate being quoted. This is a flat statement of fact by Zernike on behalf of “the newspaper of record.”

Zernike wastes most of her story simply repeating rather than weighing Kerry talking points: She defines John O’Neill as “a former Swift boat commander who was recruited by the Nixon administration to debate Mr. Kerry on “The Dick Cavett Show.” That is a pretty dramatic charge by The New York Times. But the extensive record Zernike apparently missed, including the Times’s own archives, shows it is totally untrue. If O’Neill was recruited by anyone for the Cavett Show, it was Bruce Kesler, a Marine veteran whose op-ed O’Neill had come across in the Times and whose “Vietnam Veterans for A Just Peace” O’Neill quickly joined.

Kesler nominated O’Neill for the show. In the CSPAN rebroadcast of the original 1971 Cavett debate during the 2004 campaign, Dick Cavett, who had been on the famous Nixon “enemies list,” denied the Nixon Administration had anything to do with setting up the debate or who participated. During the election Kesler gave the entire story to Todd Purdum, but nothing appeared in the Times. Kesler also outlined how the debate had come about in a commentary piece in the Augusta Free Press in August of 2004. And the Kesler challenge for Kerry to debate was carried in the June 2, 1971 New York Times.

If The New York Times fails to correct that error, O’Neill could have a pretty good libel action. How can there be “absence of malice” when a great newspaper repeatedly lists claims by eyewitnesses backed by military records as “unsubstantiated,” while its reporter ignores published records including its own archive?

Meanwhile the Kerry apologists in the media continue their onward march to support Kerry, whether his tall tales are lies or not doesn’t matter to them:

Eventually, and bizarrely, people were arguing about whether Kerry took his boat into Cambodia on one occasion. To us the story sounded quite plausible (a number of Americans made clandestine trips into Cambodia during that time), as well as irrelevant to the campaign.

No candidate should have to endure what Kerry got. Some wanted him to sue, but he is a public figure, which complicates matters, and any lawsuit would have taken too long to work its way through the courts, in the meantime highlighting the accusations.

But now Kerry and a group of supporters are seeking to disprove them. Researchers are poring over naval records; Kerry has asked that his entire Navy file be released, and other veterans are giving their recollections.

We’re glad Kerry is undertaking this effort. So many of the accusations hurled at him were demonstrably false on their face. It’s time the record were set straight.

In the end I sure hope Kerry and his crew continue on this effort to “save” his name. Thomas Lipscomb’s new piece is just one sampling that is in store for them.

Oh, by the way Mr. Kerry…..when are you going to sign your 180 with section III signed? You know that one that would release your COMPLETE military record?

Other’s Blogging:


In the end I sure hope Kerry and his crew continue on this effort to “save” his name. Thomas Lipscomb’s new piece is just one sampling that is in store for them.

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