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Swift Boat Ad: False But Aired Over and Over Again

Reported by Marie Therese - August 6, 2004 -

The O'Reilly Factor. August 5, 2004. 8:12 PM to 8:19 PM EDT.
Guest: Dick Morris, Fox Political Analyst, former Clinton advisor

Bill O'Reilly is opposed to the new anti-Kerry ad that literally accuses Senator Kerry of being a liar. The ad was bought and paid for by a right-wing 527 non-profit called swiftboatvets.com, composed largely of Texas Republicans.

FOX News aired the ENTIRE ad at the beginning of this interview and then for another two minutes showed it over and over silently during the discussion between O'Reilly and Morris. Despite O'Reilly's claim that the ad is "horribly exploitive", he gives it more FREE air time that the Swift Boat Vets could have hoped for in their wildest dreams.

To be fair, other news channels did the same thing.

I am alarmed by the prevalence of the practice of giving "free" air time to political ads by including them in "news reports" and airing them in their entirety. What a nice little perk to curry favor with advertising agencies placing "buys" with your station!

In the meantime, this particular ad is a piece of despicable and misleading propaganda.

If you listen carefully to precisely what the Swift Boat Vets are saying, they are not speaking about Kerry's service record, but about his later testimony before the Senate in which he accused soldiers of atrocities and, in fact, acknowledged that he committed a few himself.

O'REILLY: "And the record is that John Kerry got these medals, alright, was awarded them. [Admiral] Elmo Zumwalt pinned it on his uniform. OK? That's the record. You weren't in Vietnam. I wasn't in Vietnam. People watching here weren't with the swift boats. They don't know what happened. And I just think this is horribly exploitive when you have ... 9 out of 10 swift boat guys with Kerry telling you that he's a good guy."

Over the course of the interview, Dick Morris makes the case that this ad was not a good idea.

MORRIS: "I don't believe you attack your opponent on his strongest suit. About the only thing Kerry has going for him is his war record. Secondly, I don't believe that you put on an ad that's that kind of 'ad hominem' personal attack from people who didn't know him as well as the guys who were actually on the boat. But, most important of all, I'd be scared to death to run that kind of an ad because all they would need is one phone call, one hint, one wink at a cocktail party and that ad gets pinned right on my collar and I wouldn't want that."

One of the most interesting admissions to come out of this interview had nothing to do with the topic du jour. It was Bill O'Reilly's statement that there might be a Mr. X who bankrolls the radical right in the same way he claims George Soros bankrolls the radical left.

O'REILLY: "Well, look. You've got George Soros over on the crazy left wing side and I'm sure you've got a phantom George Soros on the crazy right wing side."

Who is this "Phantom Donor"? Where does he live? Does he lurk in the halls of Congress? On the golf courses of Georgia and California? Does he hobnob with the glitterati at D.C. soirees and New York cocktail parties? How deep are his pockets? How far will he go to re-elect the President?

Where are the real "News Hounds" when you need them? What ever happened to investigative journalism? Has "muckraking" become a lost art?

Here's a challenge for the fourth estate.

Find the name of this phantom donor, this mega-billionaire financier, this Jim Taylor of the modern era, who accumulated his fortune through - what? Oil wells? Newspapers? Radio stations? TV stations? Defense contracts? Inheritance?

And once you've got the name, connect him to the Swift Boat Vets ad.

Or, buy a latte and check your financials.

Sigh...

Are there no more hungry-for-the-truth investigative journalists left?

I don't mean those who delve into the whys and wherefores of murder trials.

I mean the kind of journalist who gets answers to questions like the following:

Who outed Valerie Plame and why? Did the person who "outed" her understand that their felony ruined an effective CIA intelligance gathering operation in Saudi Arabia? Is the demise of this covert operation the reason we are "flying blind" in the Middle East?

Is there a cover-up at the top eshelons of the government regarding torture and murder in Iraq? How high does the responsibility go?

Who attended the Vice-President's behind-closed-doors energy meeting?

Where was George Bush between May and September of 1973?

Is FBI translator Sibel Edmonds a nut case or a believable whistleblower when she claims that translators were asked to work more slowly in order to hire more workers?

Who was so "drunk" he/she told Ahmed Chalabi that we'd broken Iran's code? (Chalabi turned around and leaked that information to Iran.)

Why is the Tigris River becoming polluted with human sewage when Bechtel has been awarded contracts to repair the waste management plants in Iraq?

Why have there been three separate leaks of classified information from Los Alamos?

Why has Florida been allowed to issue faulty voter purges for the second time in a national election year? Who's responsible? What's being done to correct the situation before 11/2?

Are paperless voting machines really safe? What should voters do if they don't trust the machines? What recourse do we have if there's a computer snafu on November 2nd?

How prepared are we to withstand a massive cyber-assault on the websites of Wall Street and the government?

Are churches violating the separation of church and state? Are they accepting federal funds but telling their members who to vote for by name from the pulpit? Are they accepting federal funds but still discriminating in employment of women, minorities and gays?

Are American companies involved in the Oil-for-Food scandal?

Instead of spending time on Kobe Bryant, Scott Peterson and Mark Hacking, why don't reporters try being reporters again and "dig up the dirt" on at least some of these questions?