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Friday, September 24, 2004

NYT bungles description of Kerry's 1970 Paris meeting, and publishes a Brinkley gaffe

Jodi Wilgoren's article entitled "Truth Be Told, the Vietnam Cross-Fire Hurts Kerry More" on September 24, 2004, in the NYT's Washington/Campaign section, contains this statement:

Mr. Kerry's nemesis, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is spending $1.3 million in five swing states with a spot accusing him of meeting with the enemy in Paris — a reference to his trip to the Paris peace talks, where he met with both sides.

As I wrote at considerable length on Tuesday, Kerry didn't meet with "both sides," but rather with representatives of both enemy participants at the Paris peace talks, the North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong.  Ms. Wilgoren's article is also misleading in referring to this as merely an accusation by the SwiftVets.  It's not a disputed accusation, it's something that Kerry admitted — and arguably, bragged about — in his 1971 testimony before the Fulbright Committee.  And unsurprisingly, the Times continues to ignore the possibility that Kerry made at least one further Paris trip in late 1971, as pro-Kerry antiwar-movement historian Gerald Nicosia continues to insist despite the Kerry campaign's denials.

The same article contains this surprising statement by authorized Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley:

"Every American now knows that there's something really screwy about George Bush and the National Guard, and they know that John Kerry was not the war hero we thought he was," said Douglas Brinkley, the historian and author of a friendly biography of Mr. Kerry's war years, acknowledging that Mr. Kerry's opponents had succeeded in raising questions about his service.

"It's kind of neutralized itself, just by tiring everybody out," Mr. Brinkley said.

Within hours, the Kerry campaign published a press release from Mr. Brinkley to respin this quote:

Author and historian, Douglas Brinkley, issued the following statement to correct a report by the New York Times today:

"A story in the September 24 New York Times leaves the false impression that I think John Kerry was not 'the war hero we thought he was.' Nothing could be further from the truth. He was a great American fighting man in Vietnam and deserved all of his medals. Over the past year I have vigorously defended Kerry's military record and will continue to do so.

"My comment was meant to be about the political consequences of the anti-Kerry Swift boat attacks vs. the anti-Bush National Guard ones. I was speaking about public perceptions not my personal beliefs."

Paid for by Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc.

I appreciate the frank attribution on this press release; but it ought to also appear on Brinkley's book, Tour of Duty, and perhaps also be tattooed on Mr. Brinkley's forehead to help keep him in sync with the party line.

Update (Sat Sep 25 @ 2:12am):  Not content to get it wrong once, the NYT repeats its error:

Mr. Kerry has said he visited the Vietnam peace talks and discussed the status of prisoners of war with both sides.

That's not what he said in 1971, and not what he did in 1970.  Apparently the Times recognizes that a junior officer in the Naval Reserves meeting with the nation's enemies (plural) in wartime is hard to spin in a favorable way.  So they're just going to misrepresent the actual facts, repeatedly.  If you disapprove, feel free to email the Times "public editor," Mr. Daniel Okrent (politely, please).

Posted by Beldar at 09:17 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to NYT bungles description of Kerry's 1970 Paris meeting, and publishes a Brinkley gaffe and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Shout the Error, Whisper the Correction from Patterico's Pontifications

Tracked on Sep 29, 2004 8:53:52 PM


(1) OhMike made the following comment | Sep 24, 2004 9:51:19 PM | Permalink

Beldar, now THAT was a good, snarky comment.

(2) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 24, 2004 10:08:27 PM | Permalink

And here's the funny thing: the MSM is so distrusted, nobody blinks an eye when even the Left is misquoted. Is that the way the NYT is trying to wheedle the Right?

"If only we can foul up in ways that hurt both the Left and the Right equally our reputation will be fixed."--Anonymous NYT editor

And, although I can't prove that quote authentic, I'll stick by my story until it can be proven I'm wrong. Even if I'm wrong, I believe the quote above encapsulates the authentic truth of the NYT's constant mistakes.

Oh, and that's if I actually believed they got it wrong. Until they post the .jpeg files of their interviews (through hyperlinks) in their stories how will we ever know to believe them?!?

(3) Dan S made the following comment | Sep 24, 2004 11:01:27 PM | Permalink

Tatoo that on the inside of Brinkley's eyelids, so even when he sleeps he's reminded of who is his real master.

My preciousssssss...

(4) Dan made the following comment | Sep 24, 2004 11:44:15 PM | Permalink

Hmmm ...
"they know that John Kerry was not the war hero we thought he was," said Douglas Brinkley"

and then "I was speaking about public perceptions not my personal beliefs"

So, I guess this comes down to what the definition of(we)is. heh heh Contrast "they know" - present tense with "we thought" past tense and the difference between "knowing" something and simply "thinking" it and Brinkley tells us precisely where he stands on Kut and Run Kerry. Let's face it, he burned Brinkley, too and he has tobe aware that his reputation didn't exactly come out of this unscathed. And no doubt on the off chance Kerry can pullthis out, you knpow Brinkley want's to be first in line to be his historian. ACK!! Just the thought of THAT. Kerry's place in history should remain preserved in 1971 - 72.

(5) screenjockey made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 6:57:51 AM | Permalink

Your link to Okrent is mangled.
http://www.beldar.org/mailto:[email protected]
mailto:[email protected]

(6) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 7:07:45 AM | Permalink

That link works for me, Screenjockey, but I think one must have one's emailer and or browser set up to accept "mailto" parameters. If it's not working automatically, then by all means just copy the email — [email protected] — and use your regular email software.

(7) rhodeymark made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 11:53:25 AM | Permalink

Bill - as I said to Okrent, the thrust of Wilgoren's description is to essentially refute the Swifties depiction of his meetings as secret. If Kerry met with the American side as well then his trip wasn't secret at all. A little semantic wiggle room there I suppose, but the allegation demands exposition.

(8) Roundguy made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 6:58:01 PM | Permalink

The NYT has also stated that it is perfectly alright for Kerry to exagerate his positions.

The NYT, like Kerry, have dropped all pretenses of fairness or accuracy in order to win at any cost. I wonder what stupid bomb they'll toss in late October?

(9) BamaFan made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 8:35:31 AM | Permalink

Today's (9/26) Houston Chronicle Outlook section contains the following op-ed by Ben Wasserstein, "a New York writer".

A Public Blogging

Has time come to bury 'old media'? Not so fast

The choice paragraph is:

"First, it's worth remembering how many other news stories -- basically, er, all of them -- have not been broken by the blogosphere. The obvious analogue to the suspicious memos about Bush's National Guard service was last month's spurious attacks on Kerry's military service in Vietnam. Though decried by lefty bloggers, the charges were not adequately debunked until newspapers like The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune reaped the reward from Freedom of Information Act searches of decades-old military records and published eyewitness testimonials. Old-fashioned reporting won that round".

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