NYT (Finally) Mentions Kerry's Flip-Flop on Use of Vietnam Footage - July 30, 2004 - TimesWatch.org

Times Watch for July 30, 2004

NYT (Finally) Mentions Kerry's Flip-Flop on Use of Vietnam Footage

Reporter Jim Rutenberg files "New Skirmish Over Images From Vietnam in a Kerry Video," a story that includes details of a Kerry flip-flop (with an NYT angle) over Kerry's use of his personal Vietnam footage in the campaign, a controversy first highlighted yesterday on Times Watch.

Back in September 2002, Kerry told then-Times columnist (now executive editor) Bill Keller "I have no intention of using" his Vietnam home movies, which Kerry shot with an 8-mm camera, for campaign purposes. Yet the Kerry campaign indeed employed the footage in a nine-minute biopic which aired before Kerry's acceptance speech Thursday night, and in some previous campaign commercials as well. The Times has apparently not mentioned this flip-flop before Rutenberg's story, judging from the results of a Nexis database search.

Rutenberg adds: "Even before Senator John Kerry's biographical video was shown to convention delegates at the FleetCenter on Thursday night, voters in swing states had already seen plenty of images of the Democratic presidential candidate trekking through the jungle in his combat fatigues during the Vietnam War. The images have been featured prominently in many of his commercials. But conservative and Republican groups used Mr. Kerry's new video as an opportunity to question his motives for filming himself during the war and his decision to use the images so heavily in his campaign."

He details how the Drudge Report stoked the controversy earlier in the week: "The attacks began Wednesday, when the online Drudge Report posted excerpts from a coming book published by Regnery recounting a claim that Mr. Kerry had pulled out his camera after firefights to re-enact them."

Later Rutenberg cites Times Watch's parent organization: "Tim Graham, a director at the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, said the issue of Mr. Kerry using the Vietnam film was important because 'it's another flip-flop.' He cited an article in The New York Times in 2002 in which Mr. Kerry said he had 'no intention of using it' for campaign purposes. Asked why his group was making an issue of Mr. Kerry's statements now when he has been using the images in his commercials since the fall, Mr. Graham said, 'Tonight's going to be Vietnam night at the convention, so there's no time like the present.'"

For the rest of Rutenberg's mention of the Kerry footage flip-flop, click here.

" Campaign 2004 | Democratic Convention | Bill Keller | Sen. John Kerry | Jim Rutenberg | Vietnam

Kerry's Got a Little of the "Reagan Glow"

In "The Nominee Seems a Happy Warrior," TV reporter/critic Alessandra Stanley gives Kerry's performance a thumbs-up: "Kerry looked happy. Really happy. It showed in the way he raced, half-crouched, up the stairs to the lectern, the way he pumped his arm in the air and, especially, his opening words and jaunty salute: 'I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty.' And his somewhat goofy, bridegroom radiance lit up the screen, lending his performance energy and spirit. He spoke well, after a few minor stumbles, and without either his usual torpor or the stiffness of President Bush."

Stanley even suggested Kerry was a bit Reaganesque: "Mr. Kerry had a little of the glow [ed. note: perhaps that was just sweat] that Ronald Reagan transmitted in almost every television appearance, and that Mr. Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, wears every time he is on stage or in a crowd. On his good days, President Clinton beamed it up and down the rope line. It is not an emotion Mr. Kerry shows often, or easily, and his natural reserve and reticence are only enhanced by his gloomy good looks. He was helped by a powerful, well-written speech that wove his boyhood into strong, simple phrases about war, peace and patriotism".Last night, his good mood, as much as the importance of the moment, lent him extra grace. When he blew a kiss to his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, dressed in bridal white, then put out his arms to mime an embrace, he looked natural."

For the rest of Stanley's review of Kerry's performance, click here.

" Campaign 2004 | Democratic Convention | Sen. John Kerry | Ronald Reagan | Alessandra Stanley

Did Kerry "Turn Corner" With Voters Last Night?

Has John Kerry turned a corner with the electorate? Todd Purdum's front-page analysis of Kerry's performance suggests so. In "Strong Show of 'Strength,'" Purdum writes: "After a year in which he has been borne along more by the Democrats' lust to defeat Mr. Bush than by any special passion to elect him, Mr. Kerry may well have turned a corner on the path toward inspiring his party, and inviting swing voters to put him in the White House. He perspired visibly in the overcrowded hall, but his delivery was fluid, relaxed and assured, and he smiled often."

Purdum insists Bush's attempts to paint Kerry as liberal aren't working, though concedes the "flip-flop" charge just might: "All year, Mr. Kerry's advisers have expressed confidence that Mr. Bush will never be able to turn Mr. Kerry into Mr. Dukakis, whom the elder Bush managed to paint as a weak and wobbly liberal unfit to be commander in chief. Despite harsh television advertisements from the Republicans, that has so far proven true. But Mr. Kerry, whose long Senate career has left a string of sometimes contradictory votes, is more vulnerable to charges of inconsistency. So he took trouble to cast himself as a determined skeptic, one who 'will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence' and make sure that 'policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics.'"

For the rest of Purdum's analysis, click here.

" Campaign 2004 | Democratic Convention | Sen. John Kerry | Todd Purdum

Krugman Sees Pro-Bush Media Bias

Paul Krugman is in usual form in his Friday column, "Triumph Of The Trivial," complaining of pro-Bush bias: "Since campaign coverage as celebrity profiling has no rules, it offers ample scope for biased reporting."A Columbia Journalism Review Web site called campaigndesk.org, says its analysis 'reveals a press prone to needlessly introduce Senators Kerry and Edwards and Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, as millionaires or billionaires, without similar labels for President Bush or Vice President Cheney.' As the site points out, the Bush campaign has been "hammering away with talking points casting Kerry as out of the mainstream because of his wealth, hoping to influence press coverage." The campaign isn't claiming that Mr. Kerry's policies favor the rich-they manifestly don't, while Mr. Bush's manifestly do. Instead, we're supposed to dislike Mr. Kerry simply because he's wealthy (and not notice that his opponent is, too). Republicans, of all people, are practicing the politics of envy, and the media obediently go along."

By going along with campaigndesk.org's pro-Kerry analysis (which itself is rather thin on data), Krugman ignores the hypocrisy angle: The fabulously wealthy Kerry-Edwards ticket railing against wealth and privilege.

For the rest of Krugman on that pro-Bush media bias, click here.

" Campaign 2004 | Democratic Convention | Columnists | Paul Krugman