Sunday, January 28, 2007

Reverse swift-boating

The MSM is spasming to the defense of Barack Obama and the relatively minor news coverage suggesting he may have had much more of a Muslim upbringing than originally thought.

The thunder of the denouncements far outweigh the story's initial coverage. That's about par for the course for the MSM and brings to mind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth saga in 2004.

The MSM mythology of that episode continues to be that the anti-Kerry veterans were largely discredited. To this day, wording to that effect is inserted into nearly every story that mentions the Swifties in major media outlets. The truth is that very few of the Swift Boat charges were effectively rebutted and John Kerry, the man who could have shed light on the matter, refused to release his military records to do so.

MSM members initially ignored the Swift Boat story despite having a large contingent of Kerry's colleagues in Vietnam who bitterly opposed him. That's a story, folks, because Kerry was making his Vietnam service a centerpiece of his campaign. Only after being ignored by the media did the Swift Boat veterans buy TV time and then the MSM entered the fray as Kerry's defender.

The height of that defense was reached in a memorably laughable segment of Nightline where ABC found some Vietnamese official who claimed to have witnessed events in such a way that rebutted a small part of the Swift Boat allegations. The only problem was that John O'Neill, the leader of the Swift Boat Veterans, told Ted Koppel in a live interview that Kerry's own account of the battle in a sympathetic biography contradicted the communist's claims. O'Neill repeatedly pointed this out to a flustered Ted Koppel and chided him for spending millions of dollars finding an obscure Vietnamese official while not once interviewing the Swift Boat veterans.

I'm not comparing the substance of the Swift Boat allegations to the Obama allegations. But I'm not buying as sincere the MSM's overheated reaction to the barely aired Obama story.

I suspect part of the fervor is an opportunity to criticize Fox News, which aired the Obama story on a few of its least watched shows. The MSM meme is that Obama never attended a radical Muslim school and that Hillary Clinton's researchers never dug up this information. The MSM evidence that says the original story is false, especially the Hillary part, is less definitive than is being portrayed. That said, if the story is indeed false, it should be rebutted by the news media. But, the real question is, does the media swiftly rebut flimsy allegations against conservatives?

Where was the MSM in 2004 in the months leading to the election when every outrageous anti- George Bush charge was paraded through the morning news shows and "responsible" press day in and day out. If it was irresponsible for Fox News to report the Obama story in a minor segment, what level of fairness did NBC News display, for example, by putting Kitty Kelley on the Today Show two months before the election showcasing the charge that GWBush snorted cocaine at Camp David during his father's presidency based on a source who publicly denied saying it?

The amount of false and skewed reporting on George Bush on a daily basis dwarfs any false reporting done so far on Obama. Anybody who watches David Shuster's reports daily on MSNBC can attest to that. If the MSM wants to go on a jihad against sliming and smearing, it ought to look around, the evidence is everywhere.

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