Who are the 'brainwashers'?

Brent Bozell

10/20/2004 12:00:00 AM - Brent Bozell

The decision of Sinclair Broadcasting to air an anti-Kerry documentary in late October is a nightmarish recipe of "creeping fascism, state propaganda, Big Brother and brainwashing." So says the unhinged Molly Ivins, giving voice to the outrage felt by her colleagues in the news media.

 Liberals are positively panicked at the idea that somewhere, on some station, at some late date, someone will say something negative about John Kerry without a moment for balance on the other side. Let's be blunt: Welcome to our world, liberals. You're all for propaganda and brainwashing when it's Dan, Peter, Tom & Co. spinning wildly in your direction. In your world, a free press is defined as what happens when so-called "news" professionals sell liberalism relentlessly like a kitchen gizmo on a late-night infomercial.

 Conservatives are used to seeing our leaders hounded and our ideas pounded without any quaint notions of balance or fairness on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, PBS and so on. This does not occur on one night every four years. It happens on a daily, even hourly basis. TV news stars have foisted Microsoft forgeries on President Bush (CBS), framed his face next to the letters "I LIE" (NBC), and composed internal memos declaring that the Bush campaign is a cavalcade of liars and must be exposed as such (ABC).

 For most of this year, these left-wing journalists have portrayed John Kerry's war years as if he were a combination of Private Ryan, Sergeant York and G.I. Joe. They have touted his "chestful of medals" and swooned over every replay of his military home movies (yes, the ones he vowed he'd never use for political gain). Those who remember him differently -- as a man who went to battle to polish his political resume and then returned home to smear his comrades in the war effort as vandals, rapists and murderers -- are not to be defined as "newsworthy." Their views are sometimes questioned, usually condemned, parceled out in half-teaspoons of Swift Vet ad clips. They are never invited to sit for extended interviews with Ted Koppel or Dan Rather.

 The film Sinclair has ordered its stations to air, "Stolen Honor," interviews Vietnam prisoners of war and their wives at length about the wounds they feel over Kerry's infamous 1971 Senate testimony. It is a powerful film. It's a devastating story. It's no wonder the liberals want it blacklisted before it can be located on television.

 But with all the one-sided boosterism of Kerry the war hero, we must ask: Is "Stolen Honor" a blatant offense against balance? Or can it qualify, at least in a few media markets, as a limited but razor-sharp contrast to the liberal media monoculture, as the arrival of balance? "Stolen Honor" critics ought to shut up, sit down and watch before they condemn it.

 For the latest example of the liberal media's extreme revulsion to the views of anti-Kerry veterans, see ABC's "Nightline" on Oct. 14. In four previous shows on Kerry's war history and Swift Boat veteran ads, Ted Koppel never granted an anti-Kerry veteran an extended interview. But this time, Koppel's show did the incredible, traveling all the way to Vietnam and interviewing self-proclaimed soldiers for the communist regime, soliciting their viewpoint. In aiming to determine what happened on the day Kerry put in for his Silver Star medal, Feb. 28, 1969, Koppel said these old enemies had "no particular ax to grind for or against John Kerry." The spokesmen for a regime that tortured and killed countless American POWs were more trustworthy than American POWs.

 After a parade of unsubstantiated hearsay from these Vietnamese peasants, interviewed with an official minder from the communist regime standing around, Koppel sat down with an anti-Kerry veteran on live television for the first time this year. John O'Neill was so shocked by the audacity of ABC's "news" judgment that he kept returning to the objection that Koppel had been used: "You've been had, Ted."

 Koppel framed the show as a "chance to set the record straight" -- against John O'Neill . Kerry's G.I. Joe narrative must be upheld, even if it requires traveling around the world and looking up the "independent" Viet Cong to "confirm the essence" of the Kerry mythmakers.

 How dare these partisan hacks at ABC and elsewhere sit pompously in their studios and condemn Sinclair! They have no gauntlet of objectivity to toss at anyone. They accuse others of trumped-up, slanted propaganda? In this Kerry-coddling campaign cycle, the pot has never been blacker before rebuking the kettle.