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Saturday, August 21, 2004

WaPo and NYT see the blood in the water, but still won't look for its source; can't they remember the "five Ws and an H"?

In Saturday's mainstream media papers, NYT reporter Adam Nagourney serves up "Kerry Might Pay Price for Failing to Strike Back Quickly," while WaPo's Jim VandeHei brings us "Group to Air Ad Attacking Kerry's 1971 Testimony."

Both seem surprised and puzzled that the SwiftVets vs. Kerry controversy has proved, at least, that it "has legs."  Writes NYT's Nagourney,

A CBS News poll found that support for Mr. Kerry among veterans has declined markedly since the convention, and some Democrats said they believed that the attacks had at the least slowed whatever momentum Mr. Kerry enjoyed after his convention.

The question now is whether his response came in time.

Mr. Kerry's aides said the candidate's decision to confront the questions had undercut the accusations and put the White House on the defensive by forcing Mr. Bush's political aides to deny that he had orchestrated the attack.

Still, more than a few Democrats expressed surprise on Friday that a campaign that has made such a point of presenting itself as aggressive and fast-footed had let this story go on unattended for so long.

And from WaPo's VandeHei:

Yesterday [Friday], Kerry did not respond to the new allegations [in the SwiftVets' second ad], although aides said his testimony was directed at military leadership, not the soldiers fighting in Vietnam. The Kerry campaign filed a legal challenge against the veterans group, alleging it is illegally colluding with the Bush campaign. Aides denounced the president and his aides for what they called a smear campaign.

Debate over war and protests three decades ago drowned out discussion of issues such as Iraq, terrorism, the economy and health care. It is dominating the strategy sessions of the two campaigns and changing the political calculations of both parties.

Kerry hoped to focus on domestic matters but finds himself plotting a response to a veterans group that did not even exist a few months ago over an issue he thought had died. He has been forced to spend money and valuable time responding. Kerry talked with aides throughout the day about a strategy to put the issue of his Vietnam service and protests to rest.

Now, I'm no professional journalist.  But I seem to recall something from my distinguished service on the Lamesa High School newspaper staff in 1974 about "five Ws and an H" — with none of those Ws being the sitting President's middle initial. 

Specifically, Messrs. Nagourney and VandeHei might have found something newsworthy — something that would help cure their puzzlement — if they'd asked, and found the answers to, this "W-question": 

Why is the Democratic Party's nominee bleeding so profusely over a story that has been almost ignored by WaPo and NYT?  Why haven't our efforts to pooh-pooh and ignore this whole controversy carried the day?

Or maybe another related "W-question":

What are the prospective voters who are changing these polling numbers coming to understand that the mainstream media has missed?

And then there's this "W-question" that might shed some light on the controversy:

Who wrote up the reports upon the basis of which Navy brass awarded those five medals to young Kerry in a four-month tour on the Swift Boats?  Who was promoting Kerry's medal prospects, and was it in fact the same person to whom the medals ended up going (at least before those/someone's medals/ribbons went over a Capitol fence)?

Or this "W-question":

When did young Kerry enter Cambodia — to drop off guns or SEALs or spooks or special forces — if, as his campaign has admitted, if it wasn't on the Christmas Eve that he'd so long claimed was "seared — seared into [his] memory"?

That leaves the last "W-question": 

Where is Sen. Kerry's signed Standard Form 180, which would allow the release of the remaining source documents (full backup from the citations, full medical records, full after-action reports, full performance evaluations) from the Navy, and where can the press and the public find young Kerry's war diaries that have heretofore been available only to his pet biographer Douglas Brinkley?

Finally, of course, there's the "double-H-question," which Messrs. Nagourney and VandeHei ought to direct to themselves and their fellow professionals at NYT, WaPo, LAT, etc.:

How the hell did we mainstream media outlets get left so far behind on this issue that's obviously having a major influence on the 2004 Presidential election?

I've lost my original notes from my high school newspaper staff days, but I'm pretty sure I'm remembering this journalistic guideline correctly.  Five Ws and an H.  Mr. Nagourney, Mr. VandeHei, you should feel free to print out this post and tuck a copy in each of your respective wallets if it'll help you remember them.  While you have your printer on, you might also want to print out these three questions from Captain Ed to take with you to your next Kerry press conference.

Posted by Beldar at 12:35 AM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to WaPo and NYT see the blood in the water, but still won't look for its source; can't they remember the "five Ws and an H"? and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Swift Boat Vets: Tales from parallel universes from CenterFeud

Tracked on Aug 21, 2004 11:10:09 AM


(1) Birkel made the following comment | Aug 21, 2004 1:49:24 AM | Permalink

That's why I read this site. You're (generally) on point and (mainly) funny. Keep on keepin' on...

(2) Lola Lee made the following comment | Aug 21, 2004 5:55:21 AM | Permalink

I can confidently state that I was taught the five W's and one H back when I was going to University of Maryland at College Park, studying for my degree in journalism. No, I never worked as a journalist. Too nervewracking, I guess. I don't think I would have been able to live with the compromises they must make in their effort to get on the front page and stay in favor with the editors and those holding the purse strings.

(3) cjg made the following comment | Aug 21, 2004 7:43:40 AM | Permalink

There is a guestion that keeps coming to me,
where are the screamers, Kennedy, Polusi, Gore,
the clintons, Moore, Franknen and more?

The group who have taken turns screaming out
the drivel of blaming Bush for everything that
happens in loud, strident voices to the world.
Name calling and lies about the president that
make them look like idiots?
Why are they not yelling outrage now? Why
are they quiet? What sneaking nasty action
are they thinking about? How are they going
to bash the president next?

It is strange no venom has been spewed out by
these people to whom nothing is sacred, where
no integrity is the norm?
Any ideas?

(4) Roofer made the following comment | Aug 21, 2004 9:58:05 AM | Permalink

1) Senator, I believe that the federal government takes too much of my money and spends too much of the GDP; I believe, as you apparently do (for the moment, at least) that the United States did the right thing by going into Iraq; I have (and have always been able to find) employment at wages that I believe to be commensurate with my education and skills; and I really don't care what the French and Germans think of the United States. How will a Kerry presidency make my life better?

2) Senator, given the (pick one: contradictory or nuanced) statements or positions you have made or taken on the Iraqi invasion, funding the troops in Iraq, troop withdrawals from South Korea and Europe, the relationship of life and abortion, etc., how can I be sure that the statements upon which you are basing your request for my support will govern your actions after January 20?

3) If, as your supporters are now claiming, you were merely parroting the claims of others in your Senate testimony in 1971, in hindsight, do you believe it appropriate to testify under oath to events of which you have no personal knowledge? Do you stand by those 1971 statements today?

4) Do you stand by your previous statement that you committed atrocities in Viet Nam? Should that statement bear on my decision as to whether you should be the commander-in-chief of the armed forces?

(5) Al made the following comment | Aug 21, 2004 10:20:30 PM | Permalink

They can't find the source of the blood because it is their own flank being gored.

Similar to the brontosaurus, the signal just hasn't reached a competent decision maker yet.

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