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Networks Dissatisfied, Complain Bush "Refuses to Condemn the Ad" --8/24/2004


1. Networks Dissatisfied, Complain Bush "Refuses to Condemn the Ad"
Aligning themselves with the Kerry campaign spin line, ABC and NBC were dissatisfied Monday night with how President Bush condemned all 527 groups and not specifically the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. "President Bush today condemned the ads," ABC anchor Charles Gibson noted before he fretted, "but he only condemned the way such ads are financed, paid for by independent groups. He avoids condemning the specific content of the ads, and that infuriates Democrats." NBC's Tom Brokaw complained: "The President praises Kerry's Vietnam service, but refuses to condemn the ad." The CBS Evening News aired a story which recounted previous negative campaign TV ads, and Bill Plante, naturally, highlighted the 1988 Willie Horton ad which "played the race card." Plante soon charged the accuracy of the ads from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth doesn't matter since they are playing to the "fears" of people."

2. Focus Is on Pro-Kerry Vets; CNN's Brown: "Kerry Was a War Hero"
Though those who signed onto Swift Boat Veterans for Truth far outnumber the pro-Kerry veterans the media are highlighting, the media seem far more interested in showcasing any veteran who contradicts the swift boaters than in pursuing holes in Kerry's story. ABC on Monday night focused a story on three swift boat veterans who back Kerry and CNN's Aaron Brown fretted about how "we've all been a bit slow in our business to look at the facts, enjoying the tussle over the story a bit too much," and he declared that "the available official record is unambiguous: John Kerry was a war hero." In a Sunday Washington Post story on the March 13, 1969 Jim Rassmann incident, however, reporter Michael Dobbs asserted "that both sides have withheld information from the public record and provided an incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, picture of what took place."

3. ABC's "The Note" Scolds Media for "Embarrassing" Hype of Rood
ABC's "The Note" apparently took at shot at CBS News, describing its swift boat coverage as "embarrassing," but they didn't identify the media outlet they were criticizing. Monday's edition of the daily Web report written by the political unit at ABC News, contended that "undermining ONE of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth charges -- such as William Rood did -- does not undermine them all. The reporting on Rood by many news organizations over the weekend -- painting him as repudiating all the charges being made after 'dramatically breaking his silence' -- was embarrassing." Who was ABC talking about? Well, CBS Evening News anchor Sharyl Attkisson trumpeted at the top of Saturday's newscast: "Breaking the silence. A swift boat commander who fought with John Kerry speaks out for the first time."

4. Longing for "Integrity," Actress Marcia Gay Harden Praises Kerry
Add actress Marcia Gay Harden to the long list of Hollywood celebrities who are backing John Kerry. In an interview with the Boston Herald published on Monday, Harden, who vacationed on Cape Cod last week, yearned for "honesty and integrity in our political process," praised Kerry as "extremely intelligent," said that "I like that he was in the military...and that he spoke out against what he thought was wrong," and she admired how "he seems to be a diplomat and the world needs that right now."


Networks Dissatisfied, Complain Bush
"Refuses to Condemn the Ad"

ABC anchor Charles Gibson Aligning themselves with the Kerry campaign spin line, ABC and NBC were dissatisfied Monday night with how President Bush condemned all 527 groups and not specifically the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. "President Bush today condemned the ads," ABC anchor Charles Gibson noted before he fretted, "but he only condemned the way such ads are financed, paid for by independent groups. He avoids condemning the specific content of the ads, and that infuriates Democrats." NBC's Tom Brokaw complained: "The President praises Kerry's Vietnam service, but refuses to condemn the ad."

Unheard Monday night: Any concern for having high government officials, prodded by the news media, intimidate citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to express their views.

Back from a month-long vacation, Dan Rather, surprisingly, did not follow the Kerry script: "President Bush denounces those anti-Kerry swift boat ads and says they should be pulled." CBS, however, aired a second story which recounted previous negative campaign TV ads, and Bill Plante, naturally, highlighted the 1988 Willie Horton ad which "played the race card." Plante soon charged the accuracy of the ads from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth doesn't matter since they are playing to the "fears" of people: "Some of the claims made by veterans in the Swift Boat ad have been contradicted by service records and by the recollections of other Vietnam vets, which confirm Kerry's account. But that may not diminish their effectiveness, since advertising tends to work by appealing to peoples' beliefs and fears."

ABC's World News Tonight, unlike the CBS or NBC newscasts, pointed out the disparity in outside spending as Jonathan Karl reported: "$145 million has been raised by independent groups tied to Democrats, compared to just $9 million by those tied to Republicans."

Will the ads hurt or help Bush? CBS's Byron Pitts warned: "David Gergen has served as an image advisor for both Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He says this episode could also hurt President Bush." But over on NBC, David Gregory maintained: "Political analysts say the Bush team is in no hurry to soften the blow from these ads, which only help the Bush campaign redefine Kerry."

(ABC's World News Tonight and CNN's NewsNight, which both discovered the swift boat story only after John Kerry denounced President Bus over the ads, on Monday night both dedicated stories to the smaller number of Kerry defenders in the swift boat corps who are coming forward to defend him. "Three more veterans who served with Kerry have come forward to contradict what the group has been saying," ABC's Gibson relayed in setting up a piece from Jake Tapper. CNN's Aaron Brown asserted that the "facts raise a lot of questions about the accuracy of the attacks." See item #2 below for more.)

President Bush's remarks, made as he stood outside his ranch house in Texas, were prompted by a reporter off-camera whom he identified as "Deb," who accused Bush of having supporters who are "re-fighting the Vietnam war" when it was Kerry who made it the centerpiece of his convention acceptance speech. She also suggested the criticism of Kerry may be "un-American" as she asked: "Some of your supporters are re-fighting the Vietnam War with their comments about Kerry's war record. Do you think that these attacks of this nature are unpatriotic, un-American, seeing as we're sending young people to war at this time?"
Bush replied: "Yeah, I think we ought to be debating who best to be leading this country in the war against terror, and that's what I continue to try to convince the American people of, is that I'm the right person to continue to lead the country in the war on terror. I think we ought to be looking forward, not backward, and that's the kind of campaign I'll continue to run."
The reporter was unsatisfied: "But why won't you denounce the charges that your supporters are making against Kerry?"
Bush: "I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV, all the 527s. That's what I've said. I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process. And I asked Senator Kerry to join me in getting rid of all that kind of soft money, not only on TV, but to used for other purposes as well. I, frankly, thought we'd gotten rid of that when I signed the McCain-Feingold bill. I thought we were going to once and for all get rid of a system where people could just pour tons of money in and not be held to account for the advertising. And so, I'm disappointed with all those kinds of ads."
A male reporter then asked: "This doesn't have anything to do with other 527 ads. You've been accused of mounting a smear campaign. Do you think Senator Kerry lied about his war record?"
Bush: "I think Senator Kerry served admirably and he ought to be proud of his record. But the question is who best to lead the country in the war on terror? Who can handle the responsibilities of the commander in chief? Who's got a clear vision of the risks that the country faces?"

(This morning, Tuesday, CBS's Early Show became the first broadcast network morning show to air an interview segment with anyone affiliated with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Harry Smith spent 5 minutes and 30 seconds of the 7:30am half hour with John O'Neill, author of Unfit for Command, and Paul Alexander, a filmmaker who has just finished a pro-Kerry documentary, Brothers in Arms. For the MRC's August 23 Media Reality Check, "TV Focuses on Kerry's Spin, Not Kerry's History: ABC, CBS & NBC Morning Shows Have Failed to Interview a Member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," see: www.mediaresearch.org )

A full rundown of the Monday, August 23 broadcast network coverage of Bush and the swift boat ads, as complied by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Charles Gibson teased: "On World News Tonight, the campaign controversy. President Bush denounces all attack ads by independent groups, including those criticizing John Kerry's war record."

With "Ad Wars" on screen, Gibson opened the broadcast: "Good evening. We start tonight with political ads. More is said about such ads these days than is actually said in them. At issue again are the ads from a veterans group that attacked John Kerry's war record. President Bush today condemned the ads, but he only condemned the way such ads are financed, paid for by independent groups. He avoids condemning the specific content of the ads, and that infuriates Democrats. ABC's Jonathan Karl is with the President at his ranch in Crawford, Texas."

Karl began: "When pressed by reporters, the President specifically included the ad criticizing John Kerry's war record."
George W. Bush, outside at his ranch: "I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV."
Unidentified reporter: "When you say you want to stop all-"
Bush: "All of them. That means that ad, every other ad."
Louis Letson, Medical Officer/Lieutenant Commander [in Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad]: "I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart-"
Karl: "President Bush did not denounce the content of the ad, as the Kerry campaign demanded."
John Edwards: "He failed to condemn the specific attacks on John Kerry's military record. We didn't need to hear a politician's answer. But unfortunately, that's what we got. That's what the American people got."
Karl: "The veterans group running the ad said it would continue regardless of what the President says. 'It would make no difference if John Kerry were a Republican, Democrat or independent,' they said in a statement."
Roy Hoffmann, Rear Admiral [in ad]: "John Kerry has not been honest."
Karl: "The group is an independent organization not affiliated with the Bush campaign and not bound by campaign finance laws. Such groups have become big players in this election, most of them attacking President Bush"
Clip of ad: "The Bush administration gave Dick Cheney's old company no-bid contracts for Iraq on a silver platter."
Karl: "$145 million has been raised by independent groups tied to Democrats, compared to just $9 million by those tied to Republicans. The President has repeatedly condemned these groups, but when it comes to Kerry's war record, Republicans have offered mixed messages."
George W. Bush: "I think Senator Kerry served admirably, and he ought to be, he ought to be proud of his record."
Karl: "Just yesterday, the party's elder statesman suggested Kerry didn't deserve his purple hearts."
Bob Dole on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday: "With three purple hearts, and never bled, that I know of. I mean, all superficial wounds. Three purple hearts and you're out."
Karl: "The Bush campaign refused to criticize Dole's comments. Today, John Kerry called Bob Dole and told him he did bleed. Dole told Kerry that he respects him and he didn't mean to be mean-spirited, but, Charlie, he stands by his criticism. Dole said this is hardball."

See item #2 below for ABC's next story highlighting pro-Kerry vets.

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather teased: "President Bush denounces those anti-Kerry swift boat ads and says they should be pulled. We'll look at the impact of the controversy on both campaigns."

CBS led with the new overtime pay rules, but then Rather arrived at the campaign: "For days now the Kerry campaign has been reeling and has been demanding that President Bush condemn those television attack ads criticizing and questioning John Kerry's war record. Today for the first time, President Bush responded directly as CBS's Byron Pitts reports."

Pitts explained: "Today President George W. Bush went on the record in hopes of distancing himself from these attacks ads bashing Senator John Kerry's war record, put out by the Republican-backed veterans group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth."
Bush: "I think Senator Kerry served admirably, and he ought to be proud of his record."
Pitts: "The President avoided calling the group by name, but denounced its ads and all advertising from outside political groups on both sides."
Bush: "That means that ad, every other ad. [edit jump] I think they're bad for the system."
Pitts: "Accusing the Bush campaign of ties to the veterans' group, Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, said the President did not go far enough."
Edwards, in front of the campaign plane: "Today George Bush faced his moment of truth and failed. He failed to condemn the specific attacks on John Kerry's military record."
Pitts, over Kerry bicycling: "While some Democrats privately criticize Kerry for keeping too low a profile as the attacks on his record gained momentum, the Senator has reached out to fellow veterans to speak up on his behalf."
Del Sandusky, date unknown: "I was there when he got wounded. I saw the blood."
David Gergen: "In the short term, these ads have harmed John Kerry."
Pitts: "David Gergen has served as an image advisor for both Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He says this episode could also hurt President Bush."
Gergen: "In the long term it may backfire against the White House, especially if Americans decide that the ads are incorrect, they're lies, they're smears, they're part of a dirty tricks campaign."
Pitts: "In a speech tomorrow, Senator Kerry will try and shift the focus to President Bush's political record to keep from losing any more ground before the Republican convention next week. One Democratic strategist calls this controversy over Kerry's war record a defining moment in the campaign. Defining for whom, we still don't know. Byron Pitts, CBS News, Boston."

Later in the program, Rather intoned: "Those anti-Kerry ads by forces supporting President Bush are just the latest negative attack ads to surface during presidential campaigns. Despite all the criticism of such ads, you see them campaign after campaign -- and for one very good reason: They usually work. CBS's Bill Plante has the 'Inside Story.'"

Bill Plante, over "Daisy ad": "1964: The first TV attack ad in a presidential campaign aimed at convincing voters Barry Goldwater was dangerous. It ran only once, but news coverage of the unprecedented ad raised questions about Goldwater's finger on the nuclear trigger. Fast-forward 40 years: The Swift Boat Veterans ad, produced independently of the Bush campaign, challenges John Kerry's war record."
George Elliott, Lieutenant Commander, in ad: "John Kerry has not been honest."
Plante: "It ran in only three states, but the controversy has pushed its charges to the center of attention."
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Annenberg Public Policy Center: "The ad was given extensive coverage on cable and political talk radio in an environment in which there wasn't a counter-ad that was rebutting it."
Plante: "During the 1988 campaign, another unofficial attack ad targeted presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, then Governor of Massachusetts."
Clip of ad: "He allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison. One was Willie Horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him 19 times."
Plante: "Factually accurate, the ad played the race card and made Dukakis seem soft on crime, and it reinforced an official campaign ad showing criminals streaming in and out of prison."
Though Plante called the ad "factually accurate," Jamieson referred to how Dukakis saw it as "ludicrous": "Dukakis didn't effectively rebut the charge. He thought it was too ludicrous to be believed. It was believed."
Plante: "Some of the claims made by veterans in the Swift Boat ad have been contradicted by service records and by the recollections of other Vietnam vets, which confirm Kerry's account. But that may not diminish their effectiveness, since advertising tends to work by appealing to peoples' beliefs and fears."
Jamieson: "Veterans traditionally support the Republican candidate. What you saw was something unusual: Some veterans had moved to the Democratic candidate. It was easier for the Republicans to move them back."
Plante: "Attack advertising works. The Kerry campaign is now rebutting the Swift Boat ads with money it had planned to save for later. The question is whether they have acted quickly enough. Bill Plante, CBS News, the White House."

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw teased: "Message wars: That anti-Kerry television commercial. The President praises Kerry's Vietnam service, but refuses to condemn the ad."

Brokaw led his show: "Good evening. It's not even September, and already the presidential campaign is at full throttle with the President appearing today to comment on the Vietnam record of Senator John Kerry, and the ad campaign designed to discredit that service, which does include a Silver Star for Kerry. The ad campaign is paid for by so-called soft money, not officially a part of the Bush campaign. And as NBC's David Gregory reports tonight, the President made soft money the issue today."

Gregory: "At his Texas ranch today, the President again stopped short of condemning the anti-Kerry Vietnam ads, instead calling for an end to all attack ads by outside interest groups, the so-called 527's."
George W. Bush: "I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV of the 527's. That's what I've said. I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process."
Gregory: "Again today, Mr. Bush wanted to appear above the fray."
Bush: "I think Senator Kerry served admirably, and he ought to be proud of his record."
Gregory: "But at the same time, Bush allies, like former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, are helping to fuel the charges that Kerry exaggerated his service in Vietnam."
Bob Dole on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday: "He can't extricate himself because not every one of these people can be Republican liars."
Gregory: "Fearful the ads questioning the Senator's war record are having an impact, the Kerry campaign has responded with a new TV ad of its own to be broadcast in three battleground states."
Clip of anti-Bush ad: "George Bush's campaign supports a front group attacking John Kerry's military record."
Gregory: "The Bush campaign denies being behind the ads, but Senator John Edwards said today, that's not enough."
John Edwards in front of campaign plane: "Today, George Bush faced his moment of truth and he failed."
Gregory: "Political analysts say the Bush team is in no hurry to soften the blow from these ads, which only help the Bush campaign redefine Kerry."
Stuart Rothenberg, political analyst: "As someone who has been a flip-flopper, a liberal, and has embellished his personal record over the years."
Gregory: "This issue may be a growing distraction for Senator Kerry, but his campaign's hope is that by keeping the issue alive, voters will ultimately punish the President for going negative. David Gregory, NBC News, the White House."

Focus Is on Pro-Kerry Vets; CNN's Brown:
"Kerry Was a War Hero"

Though those who signed onto Swift Boat Veterans for Truth far outnumber the pro-Kerry veterans the media are highlighting, the media seem far more interested in showcasing any veteran who contradicts the swift boaters than in pursuing holes in Kerry's story. ABC on Monday night focused a story on three swift boat veterans who back Kerry and CNN's Aaron Brown fretted about how "we've all been a bit slow in our business to look at the facts, enjoying the tussle over the story a bit too much," and he declared that "the available official record is unambiguous: John Kerry was a war hero."

Missing from network coverage, how possible inconsistencies and contradictions in the stand pushed by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth does not make Kerry's story accurate. In a Sunday Washington Post story, for instance, on the March 13, 1969 Jim Rassmann incident, reporter Michael Dobbs asserted: "An investigation by The Washington Post into what happened that day suggests that both sides have withheld information from the public record and provided an incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, picture of what took place. But although Kerry's accusers have succeeding in raising doubts about his war record, they have failed to come up with sufficient evidence to prove him a liar....The Post's research shows that both accounts contain significant flaws and factual errors." For the August 22 Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

And on Monday's Special Report with Brit Hume, Fred Barnes pointed out how nine days after Kerry's first purple heart incident, he wrote in his diary "that he had never been under fire, and as a result he and his men were 'cocky' because you knew you could be cocky if you were an American at war and hadn't been shot at yet. If you believe that from Kerry's journal, and it's in Doug Brinkley's book, then he shouldn't have gotten the purple heart."

Nonetheless, on Monday's World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson announced: "The charges by this group that calls itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are being challenged again today. Three more veterans who served with Kerry have come forward to contradict what the group has been saying. Here's ABC's Jake Tapper."

Tapper outlined the cases: "Patrick Runyon was with John Kerry the night in 1968 when Kerry won his first Purple Heart."
Patrick Runyon, former Kerry Swift Boat crew mate: "It was the scariest night we ever spent over there."
Tapper: "In June, Runyon told the story of that night to a private investigator who said he worked for a Vietnam veterans group. The investigator wrote up the conversation in this affidavit and asked Runyon to sign it. Runyon refused."
Runyon: "He didn't, I hate to say, capture what occurred there, and he added stuff like, 'I do not recall Kerry firing,' which I know I definitely, I said Kerry was firing."
Tapper: "The investigator, it turns out, worked for the anti-Kerry veterans group sponsoring this latest ad. The group says there was a mis-communication between Runyon and the investigator. John O'Neill, a leader of the anti-Kerry veterans, characterizes the incident when John Kerry won his Silver Star this way."
John O'Neill, co-Author of Unfit for Command: "The kid was wounded in the legs by machine gun fire. And as he ran off, John Kerry jumped off the boat and shot the kid in the back."
Tapper to O'Neill: "Why do you call a Viet Cong sniper a kid?"
O'Neill: "I can call him a Viet Cong sniper if you want me to."
Tapper: "Jim Rood, today an editor with 'The Chicago Tribune,' was with John Kerry that day in 1969. In Sunday's newspaper, Rood writes O'Neill's description is 'wrong' and 'untrue,' and says the sniper was a 'grown man,' not a kid. The group also disputes Kerry's Bronze Star, contradicting official Navy records, saying Kerry was under enemy fire when he saved the life of a Green Beret. Jim Russell was on a nearby boat that day."
Jim Russell, former Swift Boat officer: "People who said that there was no enemy fire on that river that day when we were attacked must've been on a different river."
Tapper: "Senator Kerry has refused to refute the group's charges point by point. His campaign says he doesn't have to since Pentagon records, and an increasing number of eye witnesses, confirm his accounts. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington."

Later, CNN's Aaron Brown opened NewsNight: "At some point it has to be about the truth. Veterans groups who have launched attacks against John Kerry have every right to claim he is not fit to lead. They can claim he's a jerk. They can claim he dishonored fellow soldiers after the war. That is the stuff of opinion and they, like everyone else, are entitled to have their own opinions and entitled to have them respectfully heard. But, as the late Senator Daniel Moynihan said, you are not entitled to your own facts and facts are where this whole messy affair gets dicey for those who launched the attack.
"In my view, we've all been a bit slow in our business to look at the facts, enjoying the tussle over the story a bit too much. But the Washington Post, the New York Times, Knight Ridder and perhaps others have done a lot of looking at the facts and those facts raise a lot of questions about the accuracy of the attacks."

Brown soon narrated his own summary of the evidence: "Well, what they also didn't get and won't get from either side is an answer to the question that tends to get lost in all the back and forth: Namely, what are the facts here? Not necessarily the whole gospel truth, given that memories fade and records don't tell an entire story. But the facts as best we know them, and nothing more. Here are a few facts that seem to matter most. The available official record is unambiguous: John Kerry was a war hero. The citation that accompanies his Bronze Star speaks of his, quote, 'professionalism, great personal courage under fire, complete dedication to duty.' If you go by some of the witnesses to those events, like the young Special Forces soldier Kerry pulled from the river, there is no argument."
Jim Rassmann, Served with John Kerry in Vietnam [from DNC film]: "All these rounds kept coming in, and John ran up and dropped down on his hands and knees and pulled me over. And had he not come out on that bow like that, I'd be dead."
Brown: "But others, as you now know, testify to a different John Kerry."
Roy Hoffmann, Rear Admiral [in ad]: "John Kerry has not been honest."
Adrian Lonsdale, Commander [in ad]: "And he lacks the capacity to lead."
Larry Thurlow, Lieutenant J.G. [in ad]: "When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry."
Brown: "Larry Thurlow, a fellow swift boat skipper back in '68, has claimed there was no enemy fire, there was no danger, and there were no heroic actions by John Kerry."
Thurlow: "I distinctly remember we were under no fire from either bank."
Brown: "But Thurlow also received a Bronze Star for the same battle, and his citation mentions enemy bullets flying around him. When confronted with this, Thurlow insists it is not accurate and that Kerry wrote up the after-action report. But there are no documents, none, that indicate John Kerry wrote that report. George Elliott now criticizes Kerry for not being honest. But, according to the New York Times, while he was Kerry's commanding officer in Vietnam, he gave him excellent ratings, including, quote, 'not exceeded in moral courage.' In '96, Elliott, and Adrian Lonsdale, flew to Boston to appear with Kerry then in a tough reelection race. Lonsdale, today quoted as saying Kerry is unfit to lead, then called him 'among the finest of those swift boat drivers.' There are more documents -- John Kerry's personal diaries, for one -- that might shed more light on all of this. But they have not been released because the Kerry campaign says there is an exclusivity agreement with his biographer."

Then why not call upon Kerry to release those documents?

Brown failed note that those he accused of hypocrisy say they were not aware in 1996, or the time of their reports, of the exploits Kerry claimed.

But Brown didn't forget about Cambodia. Setting up an interview with New York Times reporter Kate Zernike, who was co-author of the Friday Times story about the swift boat vets' "web of connections to the Bush family," Brown proposed: "The one issue the Senator has some problems on I think in this is Cambodia, fair?" She agreed.

ABC's "The Note" Scolds Media for "Embarrassing" Hype of Rood

ABC's "The Note" apparently took at shot at CBS News, describing its swift boat coverage as "embarrassing," but they didn't identify the media outlet they were criticizing. Monday's edition of the daily Web report written by the political unit at ABC News, contended that "undermining ONE of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth charges -- such as William Rood did -- does not undermine them all. The reporting on Rood by many news organizations over the weekend -- painting him as repudiating all the charges being made after 'dramatically breaking his silence' -- was embarrassing." Who was ABC talking about? Well, CBS Evening News anchor Sharyl Attkisson trumpeted at the top of Saturday's newscast: "Breaking the silence. A swift boat commander who fought with John Kerry speaks out for the first time."

Monday's "The Note" also maintained: "There is no evidence that the Bush campaign is orchestrating the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the known ties between them are significantly less close than between John Kerry's campaign and the 527s supporting him."

For the full list of their observations about swift boat coverage, which also included some shots at the anti-Kerry vets, see: www.abcnews.go.com

Longing for "Integrity," Actress Marcia
Gay Harden Praises Kerry

Add actress Marcia Gay Harden to the long list of Hollywood celebrities who are backing John Kerry. In an interview with the Boston Herald published on Monday, Harden, who vacationed on Cape Cod last week, yearned for "honesty and integrity in our political process," praised Kerry as "extremely intelligent," said that "I like that he was in the military...and that he spoke out against what he thought was wrong," and she admired how "he seems to be a diplomat and the world needs that right now."

An excerpt from the August 23 "Inside Track" column item by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa about the actress who has starred in Mystic River, Pollack and Welcome to Mooseport:

....Harden said she has a soft spot for Mooseport, which stars Gene Hackman as a beloved former president who runs for mayor of Mooseport, Maine, against the town's plumber, played by Ray Romano. Rip Torn and Hyde Park homegal Maura Tierney also star. Harden plays the ex-prez' loyal assistant.

"It's a silly little movie but it has a message," she said. "It's about honesty and integrity in our political process. And I hope that we have that in this election."

Like many of her Tinseltown brethren, Harden is backing Sen. John Kerry's bid for the White House.

"It's not just a reaction against George Bush," she said. "I feel that John Kerry is extremely intelligent, I like that he was in the military -- my dad was a military officer -- and that he spoke out against what he thought was wrong. He seems to be a diplomat and the world needs that right now."...

END of Excerpt

For the August 23 "Inside Track" column in full: thetrack.bostonherald.com

For the Internet Movie Database page for Harden, who starred a couple of years ago as the love interest for Richard Dreyfuss in CBS's The Education of Max Bickford series: www.imdb.com

# Late night viewing tonight, Tuesday:

-- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is scheduled to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman to plug her Bush-bashing book. (Letterman will also have a "Top Ten" list from the USA women's Olympic softball team and an interview with the very liberal actor/comedian Denis Leary.)

-- John Kerry will be on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. The Daily Show airs four times, starting tonight at 11pm EDT/PDT, 10pm CDT. Then it repeats at 1am EDT/PDT, 12am CDT; Wednesday at 10am EDT/PDT, 9am CDT and 7pm EDT/PDT, 6pm CDT. Those in MDT zone are on your own to figure out which feed your cable system gets.

-- Brent Baker