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Kerry at the VFW

Reported by Nancy - August 18, 2004 -

Unlike Monday morning (8/16), when FNL endlessly hyped Bush's speech at the VFW Convention, today (8/18) FNL was -- how shall I put it? -- rather subdued about Kerry's scheduled speech at the same venue.

Not only were there no flattering "previews" of what Kerry might say, FNL just couldn't bear to broadcast the speech in a simple, straightforward way.

To start with, FNL didn't breathlessly "await" Kerry's arrival at the VFW, with video of the empty podium & the crowd in the auditorium (as they do for Bush). Nor did they show Kerry arriving (as they do for Bush). Instead, at 11:03am (EDT) they interrupted yet another report by Stan Goldman on the Scott Peterson case to go to live coverage of Kerry's speech, already in progress.

Shortly after that, at 11:09am (EDT), FNL went to a split-screen format so they could display carefully selected portions of Kerry's military record on the right-hand half of the screen while continuing to show Kerry speaking on the left-hand half. [Question: has anyone ever seen them do that during a Bush speech? I certainly haven't.] The split-screen tactic lasted for about 2 minutes.

Later on during the speech, at 11:23am (EDT) instead of the lower banner paraphrasing what Kerry was saying (which is FNL's usual practice for all other live coverage), that banner displayed snippets from Bush's speech on Monday about redeployment & how that will reduce the stress on US troops.

At 11:27am (EDT), not content with merely bannering Bush during Kerry's speech, FNL reverted to split-screen & used the right-hand side to display info about Bush's plans for troop redeployment. Again, the split-screen mode lasted for about 2 minutes.

By 11:30am (EDT), FNL was back to showing banners that displayed "facts" about Kerry's military record (some of which they got wrong, like his discharge date). Apparently they have no sense of irony that they couldn't do the same while Bush was speaking.

As soon as Kerry's speech ended, at 11:33am (EDT), FNL cut back to the studio -- heaven forfend that viewers see an audience cheering, clapping & shaking Kerry's hand -- where Brigitte Quinn immediately tried to insinuate that the vets' reponse to Kerry had been less enthusiastic than their response to Bush. Even David Asman wouldn't go there, instead commenting that Kerry's speech seemed to be "well-received" while noting that there wasn't really any video of the crowd so you could see the audience reaction. Again, no irony: who decided not to show video of the crowd?

After clearing up some audio problems, at 11:39am (EDT) Asman interviewed Fred Thompson (GOP, former Senator from TN) for his reaction to Kerry's speech. Asman's softball questions put words in Kerry's mouth (e.g., "Kerry said that Bush has divided the nation") & allowed Thompson nearly 5 minutes of free air time to push the GOP line.

Going to an ad break, Asman dutifully recited FNL's new mantra: "real journalism, fair & balanced". As if!