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CBS: Kerry Offers "Impassioned" Retort, Bush Message "Undercut" --8/27/2004


1. CBS: Kerry Offers "Impassioned" Retort, Bush Message "Undercut"
The campaign on Thursday through the lens of the CBS News eye: John Kerry fought back nobly against unfair attacks on a subject on which the public is tired, Vietnam, while the new poverty numbers were a setback for President Bush which makes his message about an improving economy "hard to see." Without citing any evidence, Byron Pitts maintained there's "growing evidence voters are frustrated over the bickering about his war record." Pitts trumpeted how Kerry delivered "an impassioned response" to critics. Pitts insisted that "around the country, it's policy positions, not the past, voters want." Setting up the next story, Dan Rather highlighted how a new Census Bureau report revealed that in 2003 "fewer Americans had health care insurance, and more Americans fell below the poverty line. The timing of this report could not have been much worse for President Bush." John Roberts proceeded to emphasize how the Census numbers "undercut" Bush's message as he complained about how "Mr. Bush carefully avoided any mention of the Census report, but it was a rich target for John Edwards."

2. NBC's Falsehood: "Increasing Number of Americans Live with Less"
The poverty rate in Ohio remained unchanged in 2003 and stood at 10.3 percent, well below the national rate of 12.5 percent, according to new Census Bureau statistics released on Thursday. Nonetheless, on NBC Nightly News, Ron Allen went to Ohio to highlight food lines at a Lions Club. He asserted that "heavy job losses, especially at factories paying good wages and benefits, are a big part of the problem. And many workers say what new jobs they're finding leave them struggling to pay the bills." In a non-sequitur, Allen relied on an anecdote from a self-interested advocate as he insisted: "While the poverty rate remained unchanged in Ohio, need still is increasing." Despite the Census Bureau finding that "real median income for the nation remained unchanged between 2002 and 2003 for all types of family and non-family households," to say nothing of the improving economy this year, Allen concluded that for people in Coolville, Ohio, "like an increasing number of Americans, the poor live with less."

3. Jennings: Judge Denounces Partial-Birth Abortion as "Barbaric"
What happened to Peter Jennings during his month-long vacation? Back anchoring World News Tonight on Thursday for the first time since July 29, in reporting on how a federal district judge ruled unconstitutional the law banning partial-birth abortions, Jennings, unlike CBS's Dan Rather or NBC's Tom Brokaw, quoted how the judge nonetheless described the procedure as "gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilized."

4. Ben Ginsberg Fights Back, Confronts ABC's Bury With His Bias
Ben Ginsberg, the Bush campaign counsel who resigned Wednesday, fought back against the media's double standard on the subject of legal counsel overlaps between campaigns, parties and 527 groups. When Nightline anchor Chris Bury on Wednesday said "hold on, Mr. Ginsberg. Jake Tapper in his report just laid out many of those ties" between Democrats, Kerry and Bush-bashing 527 groups, Ginsberg fired back: "Yeah, and this was the first time and they've been running those ads since March, Chris. Where were you?" Near the end of the contentious interview in which Bury pounded away about how the Bush campaign left its "dirty work" to the anti-Kerry veterans, Ginsberg asserted: "I think that's a double standard involved in this, and frankly the questions in this interview are indicative of that double standard."

5. FNC Examines Circumstances for Kerry's First Purple Heart
While all the rest of the media are working to discredit Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and undermine their memories of John Kerry's record in Vietnam, FNC on Wednesday night decided to check the accuracy of Kerry's claims. On Special Report with Brit Hume, Major Garrett examined the circumstances under which Kerry got his first purple heart, relaying evidence his minor injury was "self-inflicted."

6. "Top Ten Ways NY City is Preparing for Republican Convention"
Letterman's "Top Ten Ways New York City is Preparing for the Republican National Convention."


CBS: Kerry Offers "Impassioned" Retort,
Bush Message "Undercut"

The campaign on Thursday through the lens of the CBS News eye: John Kerry fought back nobly against unfair attacks on a subject on which the public is tired, Vietnam, while the new poverty numbers were a setback for President Bush which makes his message about an improving economy "hard to see." Without citing any evidence, Byron Pitts maintained there's "growing evidence voters are frustrated over the bickering about his war record." Pitts trumpeted how "his past and audience questions about Republican ads accusing him of flip-flopping and challenging his Vietnam War record...launched an impassioned response from the Senator." Leading into soundbites from a Kerry supporter and a Bush backer, Pitts insisted that "around the country, it's policy positions, not the past, voters want" since "it's jobs, health care, and terrorism they care about most, not Vietnam."

Setting up the next story, anchor Dan Rather highlighted how a new Census Bureau report revealed that in 2003 "fewer Americans had health care insurance, and more Americans fell below the poverty line. The timing of this report could not have been much worse for President Bush." John Roberts proceeded to emphasize how the Census numbers "undercut" Bush's message as he complained about how "Mr. Bush carefully avoided any mention of the Census report, but it was a rich target for John Edwards, hot on the President's heels today in New Mexico." Roberts noted that "the Bush campaign was quick to point out that the Census report is based on data from last year, and that there's been a lot of good news since," but Roberts countered that "with one in five Hispanics now living in poverty and one in three without health insurance, that good news may be difficult to see."

The two August 26 CBS Evening News stories in full, as collated by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth from the closed-captioning:

Rather: "In this country, the presidential candidates say they want to talk about the issues voters care about, but campaign '04 is still fixated on those Swift Boat Veterans ads, the ones questioning and criticizing Democrat John Kerry's combat service record in Vietnam. CBS's Byron Pitts reports Senator Kerry tried again today to change the subject."

On screen at the start of Pitts' story: "Combat Fatigue"

Pitts: "With growing evidence voters are frustrated over the bickering about his war record, today Senator John Kerry sought to talk about jobs and health care."
John Kerry at a campaign event: "America deserves a serious discussion about its future."
Pitts: "But it was his past and audience questions about Republican ads accusing him of flip-flopping and challenging his Vietnam War record that launched an impassioned response from the Senator."
Man in audience: "Do you waffle on the issues? Are you telling the truth on Vietnam?"
Kerry: "I am absolutely telling you the God's honest truth about what happened and what took place over there. [edit jump] It's standard Republican play book. It's the same thing they said about Al Gore. It's the same thing they said about John McCain down in South Carolina. They just say it, and if you spend enough money and say it enough, people like you are going to ask the question."
Pitts: "And today John McCain said he too had had enough. The Republican Senator told the Kerry campaign not to use his name in an ad critical of President Bush, and the ad was dropped. McCain has also asked the Bush campaign to denounce the Swift Boat ads, and he's called on both sides to quit talking so much about Vietnam. It was Kerry who first made his Vietnam record an issue, a strategy to bolster his national security credentials."
Kerry at Democratic convention: "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty."
Pitts: "And continues to do so wherever he campaigns. However, around the country, it's policy positions, not the past, voters want. Jonathan Berg just lost his job."
Jonathan Berg, Kerry supporter, on park bench: "It's ridiculous, you know? We've got serious issues in this country to talk about. Why is John Kerry's military service from 34 years ago the top story? It's obscene."
Pitts: "Iowa's Joe Picchiotti supports President Bush."
Joe Picchiotti, Bush supporter: "I think it might be important for the people on the right and the people on the left, but the people in the middle don't really care."
Pitts: "And those voters in the middle are the ones Senator Kerry must win over if he has any chance in November. It's jobs, health care, and terrorism they care about most, not Vietnam. Byron Pitts, CBS News, Minneapolis."

Rather introduced the next story: "Health care and jobs got back into the presidential campaign today when the government reported that, with the economy still struggling last year, fewer Americans had health care insurance, and more Americans fell below the poverty line. The timing of this report could not have been much worse for President Bush. CBS's John Roberts is traveling with the Bush campaign."
Roberts: "President Bush brought a bite of the Big Apple to New Mexico today, the man who wrote the book on leadership serving up a strong endorsement."
Rudolph Giuliani at Bush event: "A President who has had to guide this country through some of its most difficult days, and now America is stronger than it's ever been."
Roberts: "But the message was undercut today by new signs of lingering weakness in the economy: The annual Census Bureau report, which found 1.3 million more Americans living in poverty and 1.4 million more without health insurance. What's more, median income was flat, except among Hispanics, where it actually decreased by close to three percent [2.6 percent]. That's bad news in a state like New Mexico, where Hispanics make up almost a third of the vote."
Jaime Chavez, Southwest Voter Project: "The critical issues are jobs, education, health care, even more so of a priority than the issue of even the war."
Roberts: "Those priorities were reflected last election when Hispanics voted Democrat by a more than two to one margin [66 to 32 percent]. So President Bush came here to change minds, pledging he's the one to create jobs and tame the high cost of health care, holding up John Kerry's opposition to medical liability reform as a reason why Democrats cannot."
George W. Bush at campaign event: "I don't think you can be pro-patient and pro-doctor and pro-trial lawyer at the same time."
Roberts: "Mr. Bush carefully avoided any mention of the Census report, but it was a rich target for John Edwards, hot on the President's heels today in New Mexico."
John Edwards at outdoor rally: "One of the things he said to this community today is to reelect him for four more years so he can continue the good that he's doing. I don't know about you, but I don't know how much more of this good the American people can take."
Roberts concluded: "The Bush campaign was quick to point out that the Census report is based on data from last year, and that there's been a lot of good news since. But with one in five Hispanics now living in poverty and one in three without health insurance, that good news may be difficult to see. John Roberts, CBS News, Albuquerque, New Mexico."

NBC's Falsehood: "Increasing Number of
Americans Live with Less"

The poverty rate in Ohio remained unchanged in 2003 and stood at 10.3 percent, well below the national rate of 12.5 percent, according to new Census Bureau statistics released on Thursday. Nonetheless, on NBC Nightly News, Ron Allen went to Ohio to highlight food lines at a Lions Club. He asserted that "heavy job losses, especially at factories paying good wages and benefits, are a big part of the problem. And many workers say what new jobs they're finding leave them struggling to pay the bills." In a non-sequitur, Allen relied on an anecdote from a self-interested advocate as he insisted: "While the poverty rate remained unchanged in Ohio, need still is increasing." Despite the Census Bureau finding that "real median income for the nation remained unchanged between 2002 and 2003 for all types of family and non-family households," to say nothing of the improving economy this year, Allen concluded that for people in Coolville, Ohio, "like an increasing number of Americans, the poor live with less."

For the Census Bureau's press release, with the finding quoted above about median income, on its August 26 report: www.census.gov

For the full report: www.census.gov

See "Figure 9" in the PDF of the report for how Ohio is one of the states with an unchanged poverty rate: www.census.gov

Tom Brokaw introduced the August 26 NBC Nightly News story: "A new report from the Census Bureau tonight shows that the number of poor and uninsured Americans rose last year for the third year in a row. There are now almost 36 million people living in poverty in the United States, with children and blacks worse off than other groups. NBC's Ron Allen tonight looks at just a few of the real-life stories behind those numbers."

Allen began, over video of people eating at tables and food being unloaded from a truck, apparently in Coolville, Ohio: "At this Lions Club in Southern Ohio, the food line forms as soon as the doors open. Hot meals once a week, before shopping the food pantry. A community where nearly a third, like Hazel Life [spelling phonetic], a volunteer, live below the poverty line."
Hazel Life: "They're working poor. They don't make enough to get by. They barely get by when they do get by, like I barely get by."
Allen: "Life, a single mother of three, works for minimum wage, $5.15 per hour, at a convenience store. Today's Census report says an additional 1.3 million people, like her, fell into poverty last year, with a big increase in the number of poor children. The poverty level is defined as income less than $18,810 for a family of four. [standing in front of a Columbus factory that looked abandoned] Here in Ohio and other Midwestern states, heavy job losses, especially at factories paying good wages and benefits, are a big part of the problem. And many workers say what new jobs they're finding leave them struggling to pay the bills. Even two-income families in larger cities. Lori Cesaire teaches part-time. Her husband works nights as a security guard. They're still below the poverty line."
Lori Cesaire: "You know the circle. First, gas go up, then the taxes go up, then transportation go up, then food go up, then this go up, but your pay don't go up."
Allen incoherently asserted: "While the poverty rate remained unchanged in Ohio, need still is increasing."
Lisa Hamler-Podolski, Ohio Second Harvest food bank: "We have seen over a 40 percent increase in demand for food assistance just since the beginning of this year."
Allen concluded by assuming widespread misery: "Meals, especially for seniors and children, who frequent the Lions Club most, in a rural corner of Ohio, where, like an increasing number of Americans, the poor live with less. Ron Allen, NBC News, Coolville, Ohio."

In a report earlier this year on poverty in America, the Heritage Foundation's Robert E. Rector and Kirk A. Johnson, observed, an excerpt:

If poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the 35 million people identified as being "in poverty" by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor. While material hardship does exist in the United States, it is quite restricted in scope and severity.

The average "poor" person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines. The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

- Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

- Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

- Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

- The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

- Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.

- Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

- Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

- Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher....

END of Excerpt

For Heritage's report: www.heritage.org

Jennings: Judge Denounces Partial-Birth
Abortion as "Barbaric"

What happened to Peter Jennings during his month-long vacation? Back anchoring World News Tonight on Thursday for the first time since July 29, in reporting on how a federal district judge ruled unconstitutional the law banning partial-birth abortions, Jennings, unlike CBS's Dan Rather or NBC's Tom Brokaw, quoted how the judge nonetheless described the procedure as "gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilized."

Rather and Brokaw couldn't have missed the judge's assessment since the Thursday afternoon AP story featured it in its lead. The AP's Larry Neumeister began his article about the federal judge in New York: "A federal judge declared the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitutional Thursday in the second such ruling in three months -- even though he called the procedure 'gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilized.'
"U.S. District Judge Richard C. Casey -- one of three federal judges across the country to hear simultaneous challenges to the law earlier this year -- faulted the ban for not containing an exception to protect a woman's health, something the Supreme Court has made clear is required in laws prohibiting particular types of abortion.
"The law, signed last November, banned a procedure known to doctors as intact dilation and extraction and called partial-birth abortion by abortion foes. The fetus is partially removed from the womb, and the skull is punctured or crushed...."

For the AP story in full, with a picture of Judge Casey: story.news.yahoo.com

On Thursday's World News Tonight, Jennings reported: "Here at home, on the subject of abortion, there's an item today. For the second time in three months, a judge has struck down an unconstitutional -- they struck it down as unconstitutional, a law that banned a controversial procedure sometimes referred to as 'partial-birth abortion,' at least by its critics. In today's decision, a federal judge called the procedure, 'gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilized.' But he faulted the law, which was passed last year, for not containing an exception to protect a woman's health."

Rather avoided the judge's condemnation of the procedure, but on the CBS Evening News he still made sure viewers realized "partial-birth" is not a neutral term: "A victory in court today for a women's right to choose abortion groups. In the second of three cases around the country, a federal judge in New York struck down the new law banning a type of late-term abortion opponents call 'partial-birth.' The court said the law is unconstitutional because it makes no exception for the health of the mother. A San Francisco court has already issued a similar ruling. The justice department said today it will appeal both rulings. The third case is still pending in Nebraska."

On the NBC Nightly News, Brokaw skipped the judge's words, but he also avoided the "partial-birth" terminology: "There's an important federal court ruling on a controversial issue that could have an impact on the campaign: abortion. A second federal judge now, this one in New York state, ruled a federal law banning late-term abortions is unconstitutional. In San Francisco, a federal judge issued the same ruling less than three months ago. The issue likely will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court."

Ben Ginsberg Fights Back, Confronts ABC's
Bury With His Bias

ABC's Nightline Ben Ginsberg, the Bush campaign counsel who resigned Wednesday, fought back against the media's double standard on the subject of legal counsel overlaps between campaigns, parties and 527 groups. When Nightline anchor Chris Bury on Wednesday said "hold on, Mr. Ginsberg. Jake Tapper in his report just laid out many of those ties" between Democrats, Kerry and Bush-bashing 527 groups, Ginsberg fired back: "Yeah, and this was the first time and they've been running those ads since March, Chris. Where were you?" Near the end of the contentious interview in which Bury pounded away about how the Bush campaign left its "dirty work" to the anti-Kerry veterans, Ginsberg asserted: "I think that's a double standard involved in this, and frankly the questions in this interview are indicative of that double standard."

[The MRC's Jessica Anderson submitted a draft of this item for CyberAlert]

The night before, in the "Closing Thoughts" on Tuesday's Nightline, Bury lectured about the irrelevancy of Kerry's Vietnam record: "You'd think the two campaigns, and the pack that covers them, might want to focus more attention on the war that's still claiming the lives of young American men and women, and less on the one that ended nearly 30 years ago."

On Wednesday, Bury opened the August 25 program with his judgment that "presidential campaigns like to have it both ways" and "they'd prefer to have their candidates take the high road and leave the dirty work of slinging mud to others. That allows the candidates to claim clean hands, even if it's sometimes done with a wink and a nod."

After Bury fretted about the "loophole in campaign finance laws" which allowed the ads from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to which Ginsberg had provided legal advise on how to comply with the law, reporter Jake Tapper reminded viewers in a taped piece: "For weeks, now, the Bush campaign has been denying any involvement at all with the anti-Kerry veterans running those harsh ads....So late last night, when the Bush campaign's valued national counsel Ben Ginsberg disclosed he'd been giving legal advice to the group, it became a problem. By lunchtime today, Ginsberg had offered his resignation."

Tapper, however, as he had done earlier on World News Tonight, actually shined the spotlight on the lopsided financial support of anti-Bush 527s: "Whether this opposition to 527s is principle or politics or both, President Bush is far more victim than beneficiary of these ads. While the Bush campaign is slightly ahead in fund-raising overall, according to Federal Election documents, $145 million has been raised by independent groups tied to Democrats, compared to just $9 million by those tied to Republicans." Tapper also pointed out that although Ginsberg is the third person affiliated with the Bush campaign who's been linked to SBVT, the Democrats hypocritically have their own 527 connections: "MoveOn.org's lawyer, Joe Sandler, also works for the Democratic Party, which works directly with the Kerry campaign. Former Clinton White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Harold Ickes, advises both [America Coming Together] and the Democratic National Committee. Attorney Bob Bauer works for ACT, did work for the Kerry campaign, and is now paid by the DNC to give legal advice to the Kerry campaign. And Bill Knapp made TV ads for The Media Fund and now makes them for Kerry....The Kerry campaign says, unlike Ginsberg, none of these Democrats with ties to outside groups are current senior Kerry staffers."

In spite of Ginsberg's attempts to defend his actions during his interview with Bury, explaining that "the law is very specific about those types of work that cannot be done by campaigns in 527 groups" and "legal services, which I do, is not among those prohibited coordinated activities," Bury made clear his position that Ginsberg was completely in the wrong through his questions, exemplified by the following exchange in the pre-taped session with Ginsberg, who appeared from New York (with Bury in DC):

Bury: "So why did you not then inform, presuming that you did not, inform a top member of the Bush campaign or the White House that you were, in fact, advising this outside group?"
Ginsberg: "Well, three reasons. Number one is that I'm a lawyer in a private law firm and I have multiple clients."
Bury: "Yeah, but this client is the campaign. Let me just interrupt, you have multiple clients, but not every client is the President of the United States or his campaign, and there's a legal question and a political question. Politically, I'm just curious why you wouldn't have informed the campaign that you were, in fact, working for this outside group."
Ginsberg: "Well, Chris, because of the legal reasons, and the legal reasons are that as a lawyer you have an element of, or a vow of confidentiality, so that you can't tell one client about the activities of a second client. Number two, is that the law also requires that there not be improper coordination between the campaign and a 527 group, so that I would be putting both clients in risk if I told them that information. And number three was that my Democratic counterparts, the attorneys for both the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee, were, long before I started, representing both -- precisely the same situation that I was in."
Bury continued to protest: "But with all due respect, even given your fine reputation as a lawyer, there are a lot of lawyers in Washington and you could easily have said no when you were asked for this advice."
Ginsberg: "I could have, but as my Democrats counterparts, there are, in fact, only a few of us who do practice this sort of law. [Ginsberg explained how he was "approached by decorated military veterans" who wanted help to comply with law] I was honored to be asked and absolutely would do it, and frankly, Chris, despite any insinuations in your questions, I'd do it again."
Bury insisted: "No insinuations intended, but the question I have is are you and were you entirely comfortable with the message that that group put out in its TV ads?"
Ginsberg: "My job as a lawyer is to be sure that they're complying with the law. I'm not a political consultant. I don't do message. I don't do strategy. What I was convinced of was the sincerity and indeed the honesty of those men, who have now been libeled and their speech threatened because the Kerry campaign and the Democrats don't like it and frankly I think it's shameful that decorated veterans who want to express their views in a campaign should be been vilified and smeared by the Kerry operation."

After the commercial break, Bury continued his line of questioning, establishing that Ginsberg knew the content of the ads: "You knew about the content, and the question I want to ask, then, is President Bush has consistently and repeatedly said in this campaign that he thought the conduct of John Kerry was, to use the President's word, that he had served 'admirably' in Vietnam, and my question to you is if the President is saying one thing, that John Kerry served admirably, why would you go to work for an outfit that so clearly contradicts the President's own message?"
Ginsberg: "Well I completely disagree with that characterization....Their point of view is that they have, they served with John Kerry and they wanted to get that view out. Now, the sort of premise behind your questions is that there's some sort of speech police out there that can judge who is allowed to give their point of view and who is not....And you seem to be insinuating that somehow they should not have a constitutional right to express that and I categorically reject that."
Bury: "I am insinuating no such thing. The question I am asking is how can a senior lawyer for the Bush campaign advise a group that has a message which is so clearly contradictory to what the President himself has repeatedly said?"
Ginsberg explained the vets just had a point of view and their small $500,000 ad buy brought on the wrath of the Kerry "smear machine."
Bury: "How does the viewer, the ordinary voter, avoid the impression that the Bush-Cheney campaign is trying to have it both ways? On the one hand, to have the President take the high road and on the other hand have one of his top lawyers advise a group which is clearly advertising attack ads against John Kerry, in language that the President chooses not to use?"
Ginsberg then pointed out: "Well, first of all, again, I reject that characterization, but I find it fascinating that you're saying that towards the Republicans, yet I believe you have never questioned the Democratic lawyers who are in the same position with the ads that their 527 groups have so far put out in this campaign."
[Some talking over each other]
But Bury insisted: "Hold on, Mr. Ginsberg. Jake Tapper in his report just laid out many of those ties, but the reason that we're addressing them-"
Ginsberg: "Yeah, and this was the first time and they've been running those ads since March, Chris. Where were you?"
Bury: "The reason that we're addressing them, the reason that it's being addressed is you're the one that chose to resign a few hours after your involvement in the campaign became public, and that's why we're talking about it here with you tonight."
Ginsberg: "That's right, I did feel I had to resign, because unfortunately and regrettably, the activities that I undertook, completely legal and proper, precisely the same as Kerry's lawyers did and the DNC lawyers did, was put under a different degree of scrutiny. And the President of the United States has a forward, positive agenda he wants to get out and sadly my activities were put in a light that it got in the way of that mission and so I felt I had to resign. Now, I think that's a double standard involved in this, and frankly the questions in this interview are indicative of that double standard."

Well said.

August 26 CyberAlert item:
ABC, CBS and NBC reporters all acknowledged how the Bush team called former Senator Max Cleland's trip to Crawford, Texas a "publicity stunt," but that didn't prevent NBC Nightly News from leading with it Wednesday or the CBS Evening News from pairing it as their top story with the resignation of Bush campaign legal counsel Ben Ginsberg, a pairing ABC's World News Tonight went with after stories on the Russian plane crashes. Without offering any proof, NBC's Tom Brokaw claimed that Cleland "lost his Senate seat after an ad campaign questioning his patriotism." CBS's John Roberts asserted that "Cleland, a war hero whose Vietnam record was attacked by Republicans two years ago, claims the Bush campaign is mounting a similar smear campaign against Kerry." ABC's Terry Moran asserted: "Ginsberg's admission throws into doubt weeks of denials by the Bush campaign...that there was any link between them and the Swift Boat Veterans." Prompted by front page New York Times and Washington Post stories, on Wednesday morning's GMA, Charles Gibson mockingly contended it proved the anti-Kerry veterans are "perhaps not so independent." George Stephanopoulos agreed: "Not so independent." See: www.mediaresearch.org

FNC Examines Circumstances for Kerry's
First Purple Heart

While all the rest of the media are working to discredit Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and undermine their memories of John Kerry's record in Vietnam, FNC on Wednesday night decided to check the accuracy of Kerry's claims. On Special Report with Brit Hume, Major Garrett examined the circumstances under which Kerry got his first purple heart, relaying evidence his minor injury was "self-inflicted."

Brit Hume set up the August 25 story which was caught by the MRC's Negan McCormack: "John Kerry's record of combat heroism begins on December 2, 1968, when he suffered a wound that brought him his first medal, the first of three purple hearts he won that allowed him to leave the war after four months. But details of that first encounter remain murky to this day. Fox News correspondent Major Garrett reports."

Garrett began: "John Kerry's first purple heart wasn't for a wound suffered on a swift boat, but on a 15-foot unarmed skimmer and the Kerry campaign cannot say the wound was the result of enemy fire. The campaign also says it's possible it is the result of an unintentionally self-inflicted wound."
John Hurley, Veterans for Kerry: "Anything is possible. But what you have to remember is that John Kerry that night was on a small boat, a 14 to 15-foot Boston whaler with two other men going into an inlet where intelligence had told them that the VC were using as a crossing--trafficking in contraband."
Garrett: "In Kerry's war journal, excerpted in the book Tour of Duty, Kerry describes coming upon men in a fishing boat in the wee hours of morning, ordering them to stop and firing a flare. Quote, 'The light from the flares started to fade, the air was full of explosions. My M-16 jammed, and I bent down into the boat to grab another gun. A stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell.' But in another war journal entry nine days later, Kerry says this about his new swift boat crew. Quote, 'a cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky.' Under persistent questioning about enemy fire in this first purple heart, Kerry's campaign released a statement late Tuesday that said in part, quote, 'it's impossible to know what direction the shrapnel came from.' In a Kerry biography produced by Boston Globe reporters, its clear that Kerry ordered firing on the fishermen, but it is unclear if anyone fired back."
Hurley: "And there were three men on that operation, there was John Kerry, there was Pat Runyon, and there was Bill Zeldonis and they are the only ones that can comment on that operation."
Garrett: "Patrick Runyon told the Globe this, quote 'I can't say for sure that we got return fire or how Kerry got nicked. I couldn't say one way or the other. I know he did get nicked, a scrape on the arm.' The best-selling book Unfit For Command accuses Kerry of accidently wounding himself by picking up a shoulder-mounted grenade launcher and firing too close to shore. Kerry's campaign denies that, but confuses military weaponry, denying Kerry used a mortar, not a grenade launcher."
Hurley: "A mortar is ridiculous on a boat the size of a skimmer. It would blast that boat out of the water. It does not make sense."
Garrett concluded: "Purple heart regulations at the time required medals awarded for wounds suffered, quote, 'as the result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed force or as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.' Purple hearts were awarded for unintentionally self-inflicted wounds, but with verification or statements that enemy fire was present. Kerry applied for this medal and it was awarded. Kerry's wound, according to medical records required only a dressing of Bacitracin which today most people would recognize on the drug store shelf as Neosporin."

"Top Ten Ways NY City is Preparing for
Republican Convention"

From the August 26 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways New York City is Preparing for the Republican National Convention." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Special group rate on rental cars for all the visiting terrorists

9. To meet increased demand, extra muggers being dispatched to midtown.

8. Seventh avenue sidewalks have been closed to taxi traffic.

7. Neckline being raised on Statue of Liberty's robe to John Ashcrofts's specifications.

6. Hello Deli changing price of grilled cheese sandwich from twelve dollars to seventeen dollars.

5. Three words: Bomb sniffing rats.

4. City has suspended alternate side of the street hooker rules.

3. At President Bush's request, the Empire State Building is on "King Kong Alert."

2. While Cheney is in town, Waldorf-Astoria sign changed to read "Undisclosed Location Hotel."

1. Bill Clinton is showing up to the convention just to get patted down.

# New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, author of a new book which bashes President Bush, will be a guest Friday night on the Late Show with David Letterman.

-- Brent Baker