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Giving a Story Legs

Reported by Judy - August 11, 2004 -

Fox News is a master at dragging out a story for days, long after its newsworthiness has expired. Its techniques for doing so were on display today (August 11) with its handling of the Republican attempts to tear down John Kerry's war record.

As an earlier post by Eleanor indicated, Fox and Friends had author John O'Neill on to discuss his book alleging lies about Kerry's war record. In the second hour, Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy brought up the charges with a promo (8:17 a.m. EDT) and then asked former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich about Kerry's war record. What Gingrich would actually know about the matter is beyond me. He wasn't there. He has no first hand information. His only contribution was to claim there were "strange discrepancies" and "gaps" in Kerry's memory. Geez, after three decades there probably are, and there's nothing strange about that at all, as any decent historian should know.

A few minutes later (8:25 a.m. EDT), Fox showed a clip from O'Neill's earlier appearance, and then interviewed Jen Johnson, a former Air Force General Counsel and Kerry adviser, about O'Neill's smear. Co-host Brian Kilmeade repeatedly interrupted Johnson, but Johnson did manage to say that O'Neill's work is based on second- and third-hand accounts, and thus not very reliable.

Fox is keeping the story going by giving the "author" (a former Nixon operative) air time, by promoting his book, by promoting the story before breaks, by asking uninvolved people about it, and then by granting representatives of Kerry a few minutes to try to counter all that. All the time, no new information has been presented which wasn't already known.

It's time to change the subject. We're looking at the wrong guy's war record.