It appears that the original media game plan with respect to the Swiftvets was to ignore them and hope they would go away. However, with the advent of polls showing that their ads are having some effect the Kerry Camp and their good buddies in the media have gone to Plan B.
"Plan B", of course, is not to cover the story, rather it is to cover the reasons why the story isn't true. This means that the major media is running stories attacking the credibility of the Swiftvets, when these same media outlets didn't cover the Swiftvet allegations in the first place. I don't think I am being unfair, the Washington Post had a front page article attacking the credibility of Larry Thurlow (a Swift boat commander who is a member of the Swiftvets), when as near as I can find the paper had never before mentioned him in a news story.
Now, as an attorney I am all in favor of cross-examination, but generally a witness gets to tell his story first before being crossed on it. The reverse is happening here, the papers are explaining why these veterans who served their country are not worthy of being believed, and only then (sometimes) getting to what it is that they must be lying about.
For example, we have the Los Angeles Times, which covered the Swiftvets story by--essentially--covering the Kerry camp's attack on the story. Its really remarkable, the paper spends 16 paragraphs discussing all the reasons why you shouldn't believe a word of the Swiftvet allegations, and only then talks (a little bit) about what they have to say. I could go on about the story in significant detail, butPatterico has already done it.
The article accomplishes something that I would have thought impossible just two days ago. It makes the L.A. Times's coverage of the Swift Boat Vets look (almost) like responsible journalism.
Again, read Patterico to get an idea of just how biased this article is.
But if you really want to see "foaming at the mouth" rage at the Swiftvets, you really have to turn on "Hardball" and take a look at Chris Matthews. Michelle Malkin, who was a guest on the show, described it as an absolutely bizarre experience.
Matthews' first guest was Larry Thurlow, who as a commander of a Swif boat during the period that Kerry served, witnessed some of the actions that are in controversy. One would think that a real journalist would start out by asking Thurlow for his side of events, what he saw, what he heard, that sort of thing. Not Matthews, he conducted the entire "interview" by shouting "have you beat your wife" style questions at Thurlow, and letting Thurlow get about two words into answer before interrupting him with more questions.
Think I am exaggerating? Here is some of the transcript:
MATTHEWS: Do you know for a fact that it was John Kerry‘s words or account that led to your—the language in your citation? Do you know it for a fact? Would you swear to it? This is what we‘re getting into here. We need clear accounts of what happened with John Kerry and whether he really did deserve to get a Bronze Star or not.
THURLOW: The fact of the matter...
MATTHEWS: Can you say for a fact that he wrote himself up, that he got credit because he gave himself credit and that‘s why you got credit for taking the action you did, the brave action you did to save the men and save that boat, that fellow swift boat? You both benefited, you‘re saying to me now, because of his after-action report. You both benefited in the citations.
THURLOW: Well, actually...
MATTHEWS: You‘re saying that.
THURLOW: His after-action report reported none of the action I took about saving the men or the boat. His after-action report...
MATTHEWS: But do you know now—right now that the testimony that you were both under fire, intense enemy fire...
THURLOW: Came from his report.
MATTHEWS: ... you say that was not the case—you know for a fact it was his report that led to the language in your citation? That‘s all I want to know.
After this, Matthews had Malkin on. As she notes in her piece, she came on the show to talk about her new book. Matthews was well aware of that, he had a copy of her book sitting in front of him. Nonetheless, he starts grilling her about the Swiftvets story. More remarkably, he stated in his introduction of her appearance that she is there representing the Bush administration:
I‘m asking if you‘re speaking on behalf of President Bush, why doesn‘t he make a phone call to these veterans, including Mr. Thurlow and say stop running the ads. Why doesn‘t he do that?
This is just out-and-out deception, Matthews had to have known that Malkin doesn't have an official position and wasn't speaking for the Bush Administration.
Then Matthews deliberately misinterprets what the Swiftvets mean by stating that one of Kerry's Purple Hearts was improperly awarded for a "self-inflicted" wound (i.e. a wound that was due to his negligence, not enemy action) and finishes the interview by shouting at Malkin for daring to accuse Kerry of shooting himself on purpose (again without giving her a chance to respond):
MATTHEWS: And they said he shot himself on purpose to avoid combat or take credit for a wound?
MALKIN: These people have cast a lot of doubt on whether or not...
MATTHEWS: That‘s cast a lot of doubt. That‘s complete nonsense.
MALKIN: Did you read the section in the book...
MATTHEWS: I want a statement from you on this program, say to me right, that you believe he shot himself to get credit for a purpose of heart.
MALKIN: I‘m not sure. I‘m saying...
MATTHEWS: Why did you say?
MALKIN: I‘m talking about what‘s in the book.
MATTHEWS: What is in the book. Is there—is there a direct accusation in any book you‘ve ever read in your life that says John Kerry ever shot himself on purpose to get credit for a purple heart? On purpose?
Of course, if Matthews had bothered to read the book before attempting to debunk it, he would know there was no allegation that Kerry "shot himself on purpose", only that his wound was caused by fragments from his own grenade launcher, in a non-combat situation. But Matthews hadn't read the book, Malkin reports how, during the break in the show, he appropriated her copy of the book (apparently not having one of his own) to see what it really said:
As the show broke for commercials, Matthews scrambled for his producers to see if what he said was true. And I'm irresponsible? One staffer ran to the office where I had left my copy of the book, and handed it to Matthews, who--for the first time, apparently--started flipping through it. I asked for my book back and politely said thank you. After I left, he trashed me again on the air and his scurrilous charges were repeated by his MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann, who called me an "idiot."
All I can say is thank heaven for the Blogosphere. In the bad old days, nobody would call these jerks on any of this, and the only recourse would be for me to yell at the TV (which always scares the cats).