Thomas Sowell

 As if Dan Rather's use of forged documents to try to discredit President Bush shortly before the election was not enough of a clue to the mainstream media's political agenda, ABC News has now joined CBS News in the political spin game.

 What ABC News has done was too elaborate to be called a "mistake." Now that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have become too well known for the mainstream media to continue ignoring them, ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel has broadcast its "investigation" of one of the Swift Boat veterans' charges against John Kerry.

 The charge was that Kerry received a medal for an incident in Vietnam that he falsely reported. How did ABC's Nightline try to establish the truth? Interview crew members who were on Kerry's boat at the time? No! Interview veterans who were in other boats near John Kerry's boat at the time? No!

 Nightline went to Vietnam to interview people whom they had been told were among the Communist guerrillas involved in the disputed incident.

 It would be an unwarranted insult to Ted Koppel's intelligence to believe that he does not understand the unreliability of what is said publicly by people living in a totalitarian society, especially when it is said in the presence of a Communist official who took Nightline to the people who were to be interviewed.

 What is the Communist government's stake in all this?

 In recent years, high officials of the Vietnamese government have openly admitted that they were losing the Vietnam war on the battlefields but hung on, waiting for a political victory, based on their belief that the anti-war movement in the United States would eventually force American withdrawal.

 When much of the American media became part of the anti-war movement, the gamble obviously paid off. One of the Vietnamese Communists' museums pays tribute to the American anti-war movement in general and features a picture of John Kerry in particular.

 Against that background, how surprising is it that what was said in the interview backed up John Kerry's version of the disputed incident? Yet Ted Koppel described the people interviewed as "witnesses" who "have no particular axe to grind."

 The clincher, according to Mr. Koppel, is that the interviewee's version of what happened matches the combat report and the official Navy citation with the medal. Surely ABC News knows that the combat report was written by John Kerry and that the Navy citation was based on what Kerry said in his report.

 Nevertheless, according to Koppel, John Kerry's awards "should have been the most unassailable part of Kerry's record."


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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