In May, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth held a press conference at the National Press Club to express their opposition to Kerry's war stories and his presidential campaign. ABC and NBC ignored them. Guess which reporter arrived to besmirch them? None other than CBS reporter Byron Pitts, the man passing on whispered tales of Kerry family integrity.
Pitts claimed: "the press conference was set up by the same people who tried to discredit John McCain's reputation in Vietnam service when McCain faced George W. Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000." Unsurprisingly, that language echoed perfectly a Kerry press release from Campaign Manager Mary Beth Cahill: "This attack was organized by the same pro-Bush group that smeared John McCain in 2000."
Then, Pitts connected the anti-Kerry veterans to a presumed nefarious "strategy" they had nothing to do with implementing: "It's the same strategy used to go after Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam." Bingo: another favorite Kerry Democrat attack line.
There's an obvious pattern here. Print the legend about the Democrat, and don't investigate. When the Democrat's critics try to object, denounce them in personal terms, and investigate them and their dastardly plots instead.
Now, many months after Kerry began touting his Vietnam adventures as proof of his qualifications for the White House, the Swift Boat vets have released a book and have made an ad full of Kerry's Vietnam comrades suggesting his stories are false. Are they right? If these soldiers -- and there are over 200 of them -- are telling the truth, Kerry is a national disgrace who shouldn't be allowed a visitor's pass to the White House, never mind the presidency.
What's depressing here for the American people is that the "mainstream press" is so relentlessly partisan that they have so utterly failed to see it as their job to explore the full biography of a man who stands a very decent chance of becoming the next president.
Since 1999, this national press corps devoted weeks to unproven charges and shadowy assertions that George W. Bush was hiding things about his service in the Texas Air National Guard. This national press corps has treated every nasty Democratic soft-money group and Michael Moore in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign as just a sign of great liberal vigor. The Kerry war stories were their test to see if they're reliable watchdogs or if they're just another coordinated part of the Democratic campaign machine. The results are in.