Sunday, August 29, 2004

A smear to end all smears 

I'm glad that at least some in the media have listened to John Kerry's call to end the smear campaign and concentrate on real issues. Hence the story in the "Oregonian" about one of the Swift Boat Vets and his past:
"Clackamas County prosecutor Alfred French, who called Sen. John Kerry a liar in a political commercial, acknowledged Thursday that he lied to his boss when confronted about an extramarital affair with a colleague.

"Hours later, the Clackamas County district attorney's office said French had been placed on a 30-day paid leave while it conducts an investigation into his conduct.

"French's former boss, James O'Leary, said he asked French about the rumored affair with a secretary about 10 years ago, but French denied it. O'Leary said he would have fired French if he'd admitted the relationship because it violated office policy.

"French, who said he served in the same military unit with Kerry for two months in 1969, has come under intense scrutiny in the past week as the anti-Kerry ad has become a central issue in the presidential campaign. Suddenly, the well-respected Oregon prosecutor found himself the target of questions about his own credibility and the truthfulness of his statements against Kerry."
Which proves exactly what, I'm not sure. The crux of the case against French is contained only in paragraph five:
"French's affidavit supporting the ad accused Kerry of exaggerating his war record, yet French conceded that he was relying on the account of war buddies, not what he witnessed. Since then, he's faced pickets outside his office and complaints of unethical conduct to the state bar."
Whether French relied on his own or somebody else's memories to call into question Kerry's credibility is a legitimate point for inquiry. But that he had lied to his superior about an office affair some ten years ago only proves that he had lied to his superior about an office affair some ten years ago. It doesn't prove that he is a habitual liar or generally untrustworthy, much less does it do anything to disprove the allegations against Kerry. So the "Oregonian" seems to think that "A man who called Kerry a liar is a liar himself" is a newsworthy enough an item for publication. Newspaper editors and journalists, of course, unlike us mere sinful mortals, never lie themselves either in private or public life, which allows them to occupy the moral high ground and gleefully point fingers at people.

In case you are wondering, the "Oregonian" did not publish any stories about John Kerry lying about his adventures in Cambodia. As the newspaper editorialises, "[y]ou can question the Swift Boat Veterans ads - and we have, strongly," but obviously not strongly enough to report one clear example where the Swifties' claim is clearly true.

As Tim Blair comments, "I wonder if French would have been a target if he'd been one of the few Swiftees who support Kerry." C'mon Tim, you tease, you know the answer. Please, please, tell us!

(via Tim Blair and Little Green Footballs)


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