Thomas Sowell

The recent resignation of CNN's news director, Eason Jordan, after his outrageous remarks about our military at an international forum were reported on the Internet, is only the latest in a series of media scandals, of which Dan Rather's forged documents were just one. Media bias does not consist in having liberal or conservative opinions but in how you do your job -- or don't do it.

 One document whose authenticity is not likely to be questioned by the mainstream media is the honorable discharge on Senator John Kerry's web site. Yet who in the major media has investigated why that honorable discharge is dated during the Carter administration, when Kerry's military service ended years earlier?

 This is the same media that spent months investigating George W. Bush's military record and, even after key allegations were revealed to be based on forgeries, continued publicizing rumors and innuendoes. They didn't stop even after the President signed Form 180, opening all his military records to the public.

 But who in the major media has asked why John Kerry would need to be issued an honorable discharge during the Carter administration, years after leaving the navy, unless his original discharge was less than honorable?

 One of Jimmy Carter's first acts as President was to issue an order granting amnesties to draft dodgers who had fled the country during the Vietnam war and also allowing an upgrading of military discharges that had been less than honorable.

 There is more to this than simply a strange date on an honorable discharge. The covering memo refers to U.S. Code Title 10, sections 1162 and 1163. Anyone who bothers to read those sections will discover that they are about unusual circumstances for issuing discharges from the military services.

 Senator Kerry never signed Form 180 to make all his military records public, as President Bush had done -- and the media didn't press him to do so. Even after Kerry's widely publicized role as a war hero was challenged by numerous men who had served with him in Vietnam, the media remained totally uninterested in checking out his record.

 This gross double standard is the real media scandal, even more than the forged documents, which were after all the responsibility of just one network and one program.

 Maybe there is a perfectly innocent explanation for Senator Kerry's late-dated honorable discharge during the Carter administration. But no explanation has been asked or given, even though there may also be a not so innocent explanation.

Thomas Sowell

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

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