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A GUTTER RUNS THROUGH IT (PART 1)! How do you deal with a dirt-bag like Drudge? All week, we offer free lessons:


GENERAL’S AMNESTY: Pathology! There’s no other word for the Washington press corps’ instinctive avoidance of simple, key facts. For example, consider Chris Matthews’ hapless performance with former Guard member Bill Calhoun.

Did Calhoun serve in Alabama with Bush? On last night’s Hardball, Calhoun once again said that he did. And once again, he gave an account of his service with Bush that contradicted long-established, basic facts:

MATTHEWS: Give me your—I know you didn’t think about this probably for years at a time, but as this man became president, how did your memory go back to the time you served with him in the Guard in Alabama?

CALHOUN: Well, you know, at the time he came to Alabama—let me clear something up. I know of his time from May, and I told others that it was May or June—I’m not sure which month exactly, came. It was the middle of the campaign that Winton Blount was running for the Senate. And he stayed through October with me.

Once again, Calhoun said that Bush served in Bama starting in May or June (1972). But alas! Bush wasn’t even directed to report to Dannelly air base (where Calhoun served) until September of that year (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/16/04)—and the White House only seems to claim that Bush served for a few weekends in October and December. As such, Calhoun’s account contradicts this story’s basic chronology—a chronology that has been clear and unchallenged for the past four years. But the Washington Post’s Mike Allen didn’t notice this contradiction last Friday, and Matthews didn’t question it either. Here was his next hapless question:
MATTHEWS: Now people want to know whether he fulfilled his duty during those months that you were with him. Did he?

CALHOUN: Yes, he did. He was there for every drill that he was supposed to be when they told me he was coming, and until he left to go back to Texas. He was not transferred to our unit. He was on temporary duty there.


“Right,” the Hardball host haplessly said—although Calhoun’s account plainly isn’t.

For the record, Matthews wasn’t the only scribe bungling an interview session with Calhoun. Here was CNN’s hapless Bill Hemmer on Monday’s American Morning:

HEMMER: Tell us when you saw then Lieutenant Bush in Alabama?

CALHOUN: OK, it was either May or June. We had received a call from his commander, asking if he could make his drills with us. My boss there, Colonel Tarmsee brought him in, told him he was going to be there, and he actually reported in to me. He signed in on each drill. And a drill weekend was two days, a Saturday and Sunday. He would show up at 8:00, like he was supposed to. He signed in. He stayed there all day, and signed out, and he did that both days. And this was up through October, which as best I could remember would have been the last drill, because I know he left to go back to Texas before the election that he was working in.

HEMMER: October of ’72, right, just to make sure I’m clear on my dates?

CALHOUN: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Just to make sure I’m clear on my dates! At least Hemmer provides his own comedy! Clearly, though, other “journalists” don’t. Moments after the exchange we have cited, Hemmer cited a story in Monday’s USA Today. In it, Dave Moniz wrote this: “So far just one Alabama Guard member, John Calhoun, has come forward with specific recollections of seeing Bush on duty at Dannelly. He said he saw him eight to 10 times from May to October 1972.” Like so many others, Moniz failed to note the obvious contradictions which riddle Calhoun’s account.

On Sunday, lapdog Tim Russert made Calhoun a general, and no one else seems to want to correct him. Did Calhoun serve with Bush? We don’t have a clue. But the press has decided this story is done, and scribes are now walking away from their posts. The press corps is tired of pushing this tale. Your “journalists?” They’re all going AWOL.

BRIT HUME’S HEROES: Of course, no one clowns like those “all-stars” on Fox. Why was the Bush AWOL story fading? On Special Report, the doctor was IN, and he was quick to explain it:

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, what happened was Lieutenant Colonel Calhoun. A guy shows up who says I saw him. I saw him over and over again, over a period of months. So either the president was absent and this guy, Calhoun, is hallucinating, something which happened over and over again. Or he was actually in Alabama and the others have forgotten. After three decades that is the more likely explanation, end of story.
Over and over again, over a period of months? That account contradicts the established facts, but to Charlie, it was “end of story.” Mort took the clowning one step further:
KONDRACKE: I wouldn’t even be surprised but what the press won’t let it alone because of the stories, after this big document dump last Friday, were there were holes in all the documents. And even though Calhoun, one witness, comes forward with his ex-wife sort of corroborating that yes, she remembers that he mentioned there was a George Bush around, you know, my guess is that the questions are going to go on.
Hay-yo! Now we’re told that Calhoun’s ex-wife—32 years later—recalls him saying that Bush was around! By the way, Fox viewers won’t hear about those “holes in the documents.” As we have noted before, the contradictions in the evidence haven’t been mentioned on Special Report. If you’re a rube—if you want to stay dumb and happy—this is the program for you.

Final note: Mara Liasson was absent this night, replaced by the Boston Globe’s Ann Kornblut. Kornblut must know that Calhoun’s story has holes. But she also knew that she was on Fox. Kornblut, gone AWOL, kept quiet.

A GUTTER RUNS THROUGH IT (PART 1): We’re sorry it was Andrew Sullivan who was asked, because the scribe has been a role model lately. He has criticized Bush—and offended his readers. Few libs (or cons) will argue against their preference as Sully has done.

But on last weekend’s Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz raised a key question. He directed his question to Sully:

KURTZ: OK, let me jump in here. There is, as you both know, an unsubstantiated rumor bouncing around the Internet, started by Drudge, about John Kerry’s personal life…Andrew Sullivan, you wrote about this on your blog. Any second thoughts, any guilty feelings about furthering the conversation or something that you don’t know whether it’s true, I don’t know whether it’s true?
Of course, we now know that a great deal of Drudge’s “unsubstantiated rumor” wasn’t true. We know that the woman in question hadn’t “recently fled the country,” as the dick-tugging dirt-bag falsely reported. We also know that she wasn’t an “intern,” as Drudge’s “reporting” had seemed to imply. And it isn’t clear that “[i]n an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week, General Wesley Clark plainly stated: ‘Kerry will implode over an intern issue.’” On this weekend’s Fox News Sunday, Ceci Connolly said that was false too:
JUAN WILLIAMS: Now, let me just say that Democrats, including the man who endorsed [Kerry] this week, General Wesley Clark, was overheard saying, “Oh, you know, Kerry’s campaign is going to implode over an intern,” that kind of thing. That adds to it. And I think—

CONNOLLY: You know, what, though? That’s not accurate. That’s not accurate. That’s the way that Drudge reported that supposed off-the-record conversation. But I’ve spoken to reporters who were there, and that’s not even what General Clark accused. It was something far more peripheral, and it was pinned to a tabloid.

Is Connolly right? We don’t have a clue. But that’s the kind of peripheral nonsense dick-tugging dirt-bags like Drudge want you pondering. The sleazy old dirt-bag—sleazy dirt-bag Matt Drudge—wants your life lived in the gutter.

That’s right, readers. A gutter runs though our American discourse, and Drudge ain’t the only one shovelin’ hard. But did Sullivan have “any guilty feelings” for discussing the dirt-bag’s latest rumor? Here was his answer to Kurtz:

SULLIVAN: Well, what we do know, a friend of mine called up and said, “Is this going to go mainstream?” And my answer was, well, it’s on the Drudge Report. There were 15 million visits to the Drudge Report yesterday. I don’t know anybody in Washington that isn’t aware of this story. So you get into this excruciating dilemma: How do you talk about it? Should you talk about it? I've talked about it from a—removed, talking about the story as a press story, which is what we’re doing now, without mentioning the details of it.
Sully didn’t know “how to talk about” Drudge’s report. Luckily, we at THE HOWLER do know how to talk. We’ll explain how to talk all this week.

DIRT-BAG KEEPS SHOVELING: Dirt-bag Drudge was still at it this morning. On his front page, one saw a thrilling headline:

WASH POST REPORTER: ‘Nobody would be too shocked if Kerry lied about an affair. Even if someone came to us with photographs we still wouldn’t run it.’
Wow! The headline sounded bad, very bad. But when we linked on the headline, we were taken to a BBC report by Paul Reynolds. Reynolds does quote Glenn Frankel, the Post’s London correspondent. But Frankel says nothing which dimly resembles the quote which appears on Drudge’s site.

Yes, a gutter runs through our American politics. How should Sullivan (and others) “talk about it?” We’ll offer free lessons all week.