UNFIT FOR COMMAND! On cable, your hosts are unfit for command. They make this quite clear every night: // link //
FRIDAY, AUGUST 20, 2004
MUST-READ NYT: Doo-doo-doo-doo/Doo-doo-doo-doo! Yes, the theme from Twilight Zone ran though our heads as we read Kate Zernikes piece this morning. How do those Swift Boat veterans reason? Kerry-accuser Larry Thurlow explains how he knows that Kerry wrote the after-action reports that produced his own Vietnam medals:
ZERNIKE (8/20/04): Several veterans insist that Mr. Kerry wrote his own reports, pointing to the initials K.J.W. on one of the reports and saying they are Mr. Kerry's. ''What's the W for, I cannot answer,'' said Larry Thurlow, who said his boat was 50 to 60 yards from Mr. Kerry's. Mr. Kerry's middle initial is F, and a Navy official said the initials refer to the person who had received the report at headquarters, not the author.Doo-doo-doo-doo/Doo-doo-doo-doo! To Thurlows way of thinking, if it contains a K and a J, that must mean that John Kerry wrote it! Yes, it seems that Thurlow will follow the evidence anywhere his imagination might lead. But so what? Thurlow was all over cable last night, insisting that Kerry wrote (and faked) these key reports (although, when pressed, he said he couldnt prove it). No, sometimes the Swift Vets dont reason real good. But then, if Zernikes following paragraph is accurate, it seems they sometimes invent their facts too. Zernike writes about the action for which Kerry received his Bronze Star:
ZERNIKE: A damage report to Mr. Thurlow's boat shows that it received three bullet holes, suggesting enemy fire, and later intelligence reports indicate that one Vietcong was killed in action and five others wounded, reaffirming the presence of an enemy. Mr. Thurlow said the boat was hit the day before. He also received a Bronze Star for the day, a fact left out of ''Unfit for Command.''Say what? Thurlows boat had three bullet holes? Last night, John ONeill was all over cable, saying something totally different. But then, he always makes this pleasing point. Here he was on Hannity & Colmes, a bastion of careful fact-checking:
ONEILL (8/19/04): Not a single person was wounded after the original mine explosion. There's not a bullet hole in any of those three boats, not one.ONeill has said this again and again. It helps him claim there was no hostile fire the day that Kerry got his Bronze. And cable hosts never challenge the claim. It tends to be like that on cable.
So ONeill may have a fake/phony fact. And Thurlow seems to enjoy loopy logic. But one other point is worth reviewing in Zernikes lengthy piece today—a point about Kerrys first Purple Heart. Doo-doo-doo-doo/Doo-doo-doo-doo! Were back in The Zone once again:
ZERNIKE: The [Swift Boat group] also offers the account of William L. Schachte Jr., a retired rear admiral who says in the book that he had been on the small skimmer on which Mr. Kerry was injured that night in December 1968. He contends that Mr. Kerry wounded himself while firing a grenade.Doo-doo-doo-doo! Until recently, everyone agreed that only two men were on the craft with Kerry that night. But uh-oh! Zaladonis and Runyon both supported Kerrys account of the Purple Heart incident. So presto! Schachte now says he was on the boat, too—and he claims that Kerry wounded himself. And wouldnt you know it? If you try to call Schachte up to discuss it, youre told he just wont have a comment!
Doo-doo-doo-doo! Doo-doo-doo-doo! What are the facts about these cases? Zernikes piece cant settle all that. But on cable, uninformed hosts slumber and swoon, unable to deal with the claims of the vets. In a word, theyre unprepared. You might call them unfit for command.
UNFIT FOR COMMAND: We couldnt help chuckling as we watched last nights Hardball. Amazing! Host Chris Matthews is now upset by the trivial issues that drive our elections! Chris was chatting with David Gergen. Try to believe that he said it:
MATTHEWS (8/19/04): My concern is that if were going to have a serious election in this country, not one about personality like last time—and I was as affected by that personality issue as anybody, I can tell you that—how are we going to get back to talking about the war thats going on now?...How come were talking about a war thats thirty years ago?All of a sudden, Matthews wants to have a serious election, not one about personality like last time. But why is that such a total laugh? Because, as Matthews obliquely acknowledged, no one made a bigger joke out of Campaign 2000 than he did, with his bald-faced lying about Candidate Gore and his two solid years of nasty name-calling. Matthews clowned as few others did—and his cohorts War Against Gore eventually put George Bush in the White House. But now Matthews wants to see Bush replaced—and he hopes for a serious campaign.
But readers, if Matthews wants a serious election, why wont he do some serious homework? Last night, he battered Thurlow around, challenging him about several claims. And indeed: Right off the bat, another shaky claim was offered. But Matthews, hopelessly unprepared, didnt know how shaky it was. The host was unfit for command.
The battle was joined fairly quickly. Quickly, Thurlow made a charge—Kerrys first Purple Heart was a hoax:
MATTHEWS (8/19/04): Tell me about the time you discovered that [Kerry] wasnt honest about his account of events. When did you first discover that habit of his, as you say?So Thurlow learned Kerrys first Heart was a hoax. And wow! He learned this from the people who had been with him at that time, when he reported that he received an injury from hostile fire, when in fact, there was none. In response, Matthews struggled to get a name. With apologies, well provide the whole exchange:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Who was the person who told you this, that he didnt deserve the Purple Heart?Under pressure, Thurlow coughed up a name—Steve Gardner. But alas! If Matthews was even minimally prepared, hed have known that Gardner wasnt present, in any way, during the incident in question. (This fact is not is dispute. Only Zaladonis and Runyon—and now Schachte—were there.) But you know Matthews! Hes been stressing this story for over a week, but hasnt done even minimal prep. Thurlow named an irrelevant name. And Matthews jumped to the next topic.
But this is happening all over cable as liberal defenders of Kerry step forward. Indeed, Lawrence ODonnell, defending hard, cant even bother to get the names right. Last week, he was still calling Jim Rassmann Jim Rasmussen. Last night, on a trip to Scarborough Country, he kept referring to Larry Furlow. On this one, theyre trying to help Kerry out, but theyre simply too lazy to master the facts. We hope youre happy with your new heroes. To us, theyre unfit for command.
TOUGH-TALKIN MALKIN: Alas! Chris was also caught short on his facts when he battled tough-talkin Michelle Malkin. Their exchange is becoming a cause celebre, with Matthews praised for defending Kerry. But once again, the host lacked facts. The man is paid millions of dollars a year. And he simply wont do basic homework.
Did Kerry deliberately shoot himself in Vietnam? No one has ever made this claim (although the Vets do like to imply it). Indeed, John ONeill was asked about it last night on the NewsHour. Heres his exchange with Jim Lehrer:
ONEILL (8/19/04): What weve said is his first and third Purple Hearts, which he used to leave Vietnam very early, after about four months, weve said that there is almost conclusive evidence that they were fraudulent—that is, that they resulted from self-inflicted wounds—No, even the Vets arent making that charge. But tough-talkin Malkin didnt quite know it, and, hounded by Kerry-defendin Chris, she was soon saying something quite different. We suggest you scan the whole exchange. But here is one part of the tussle:
MATTHEWS: No. No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.This is not a show for that kind of talk! Someone should really go tell Gore. When did that become the practice? At any rate, Malkin eventually named two names. Citing the Boston Globes Kerry bio, she seemed to say that Runyon and Zaladonis have said that Kerry may have shot himself on purpose. For herself, she said she wasnt sure if Kerry had done such a thing:
MATTHEWS: I want a statement from you on this program, say to me right now, that you believe he shot himself to get credit for a Purple Heart.But alas—it isnt in the book. As noted above, Runyon and Zaladonis were Kerrys two crew-mates during his first Purple Heart incident. But both are loyal Kerry-defenders. In the Globe bio, neither man says anything about Kerry shooting himself on purpose. Indeed, you can read Runyons account of the Purple Heart incident in Zernikes piece this morning. It was the scariest night of my life, he says, just as he always has done.
So Malkin threw out a pair of names—names of men who are Kerry defenders. She seemed to say that theyve charged Kerry with shooting himself, when in fact, theyve defended Kerrys accounts. But you know Chris! He showed no sign of knowing this, just as he seemed to be totally clueless when Thurlow attributed his knowledge to Gardner. In a word, Matthews is unprepared. Lets say it: Unfit for command.
Yes, last nights Hardball was quite a show. For our money, here was the high point:
MALKIN: Did you read the section in the book—Did you read the section in the book! Malkin has a lot to learn! On this matter, Matthews is going to take up for Kerry; he no longer likes the world his two-year trashing of Gore produced. But no, he wont be reading books, and he wont be aware of basic facts. On cable, your hosts are unfit for command. That make this quite clear every night.