Tuesday, March 1 2005
Maureen Dowd's column on Sunday was full of the usual hyperbole and ridiculousness, but one phrase in particular stood out:

"This White House seems to prefer softball questions from a self-advertised male escort with a fake name to hardball questions from journalists with real names..."

I'm confused. Every day Scott McLellan steps into a room filled with big-name journalists - some, like the now-retired Helen Thomas, with political leanings every bit as far to the left as Gannon's were to the right - who ask their "hardball questions." It may be a bit of an overstatement to say the White House press room is a hostile environment, but it certainly isn't a Bush-friendly one.

Dowd's remark brought to mind a recent observation made by Thomas Sowell that "media bias does not consist in having liberal or conservative opinions but in how you do your job -- or don't do it."

Sowell went on to outline the most egregious case of softball journalism we've seen in a while (of which Ms. Dowd and her well-respected paper played a big part): the pass given to John Kerry for not fully releasing his military records.

Here is how the game of softball has been played. In April of last year, Tim Russert asked Senator Kerry about releasing his military records:

MR. RUSSERT: Would you agree to release all your military records?
SEN. KERRY: I have. I've shown them--they're available to you to come and look at.
MR. RUSSERT: But you'll make all your records public.
SEN. KERRY: They are. People can come and see them at headquarters and take a look at them.

Both of these responses were demonstrably untrue. Yet Kerry was never called to account on these falsehoods by members of the press, nor was he pressured into signing Form 180 (the document that gives the government permission to release all military records to the public) even after the Swift Boat Veterans raised questions about about Kerry's service later in the year.

On January 30, 2005 Kerry pledged on national television he would sign Form 180:

MR. RUSSERT: Would you sign Form 180?
SEN. KERRY: But everything, Tim...
MR. RUSSERT: Would you sign Form 180?
SEN. KERRY: Yes, I will. But everything that we put in it, Tim--everything we put in--I mean, everything that was out was a full documentation of all of the medical records, all of the fitness reports. And I'd call on those who have challenged me, let's see their records. I want to see the records of each of those people who have put up a challenge, because some of them have some serious questions in them, and it hasn't been appropriate..
MR. RUSSERT: So they should sign Form 180s for themselves as well?
SEN. KERRY: You bet.

What you didn't see reported by the "journalists with real names" is that the day after Kerry appeared on Meet the Press and called for "those who have challenged me" to release their records, John O'Neill executed a Form 180 and released it to the media authorizing the "total voluntary release of all records to anyone interested" (click here to enlarge image):

Jerome Corsi, the co-author of Unfit For Command, did not serve in the military and thus has no records to release. Senator Kerry's office didn't return phone calls asking for the names of other people Kerry would like to see release records.

But the point is moot. On February 7 Senator Kerry not only repeated his pledge to sign Form 180, he said he would do so irrespective of whether others released their records. "I’ll sign it anyway" Kerry told radio show host Don Imus.

Kerry has been stalling for more than a month now, using the canard that he needs extra time to get things "clarified with the military." Not a single "journalist" has thought to question this patently bogus excuse. Executing Form 180 is so simple even a witless columnist from the New York Times could do it in less than 10 minutes.

What conclusions can we draw from all of this? First, Kerry's unwillingness to sign Form 180 means it most likely contains damaging and/or embarrassing information. Second, it is inconceivable that the mainstream press would stand for such behavior if John Kerry was a Republican. Anyone who can't admit that is fool or a liar (or both). And last but not least, we can safely conclude that Maureen Dowd doesn't know the difference between hardball and softball. - T. Bevan 2:32 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend


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