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Fox Gets Tough with Swiftees--Not

Reported by Judy - August 20, 2004 -

Fox and Friends co-host E.D. Hill pledged today (August 20) to make John O'Neill "prove that you're not" lying in in the group's ad in response to the New York Times' article on Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Sounds tough, but of course, it wasn't.

The questioning by Hill, Brian Kilmeade and Mike Jerrick did not address many aspects of the New York Times article.

For example, they did not ask O'Neill whether the group altered the statements of swift boat veterans, such as Patrick Runyon, to make it look like there was no enemy combat the night Kerry won his first Puple Heart. Nor did it touch on claims that affidavits veterans were asked to sign did not reflect what they said, that a man who says Kerry's wound was self-inflicted was not on the boat the night the event occurred, that the awards to Kerry were not based solely on reports he allegedly wrote, and numerous other problems the Times found. The trio did not press O'Neill seriously about the flip-flops in the record about Kerry by the retired admiral who is the leader of the group, nor about O'Neill's ties to Republicans. The trio let O'Neill get away with saying the admiral's quotes were taken out of context, without pressing him by presenting him with a specific quote and asking him what the context is that was missing.

They let O'Neill get away with saying that The Times could just as well have painted him as a Democrat by listing other friends and that his ties to Republicans were based on his ties to a deceased law partner. For example, Fox and Friends could have asked O'Neill about his ties to the Nixon White House, but they let it pass.

Asked about taking money from Republicans, O'Neill said they would have taken money from anyone, but Fox did not ask him if he approached anyone besides Republicans for the money.

The Times article pointed out that although the O'Neill group claims Kerry wrote the reports that led to his awards, the initials on the reports are K. J. W. Kerry's middle initial is F, not W.

About the article in general, O'Neill said, "It's a hit job designed to not answer the questions." The article was not about answering questions, it's about asking questions of O'Neill, questions that he is not seriously addressing.

Asked if the group would stop the ads if Bush asked them to, O'Neill said they will not do so, even if it hurts Bush. "It's a totally futile act. We never would," he said.

Although Fox and Friends let O'Neill off the hook over and over in the interview, they did at least make an effort to force him to defend his group against The New York Times' revelations.

But Fox later ran the ad in the background several times, mentioned the new ad O'Neill plans to run, and spun the story on and on.

Fox and Friends co-hosts also discussed research on the effectiveness of the ads run by O'Neill's group. A poll by HCD Research was done on the internet and found that 27 percent of independents thinking about voting for Kerry who see the ad say they're less likely to vote for Kerry. The ad may exaggerate the effect of the ad, however, since the actual ad was not run widely, but mostly was promoted on cable news, like Fox, so many people who participated in the poll may never have seen the ad if HCD had not shown it to them on the internet.

Hypocritically, Hill said it was unfortunate that the swift boat issue has become so big and taken attention from important issues. Like she and the rest of the Fox crew had nothing to do with making it an issue. Chris Wallace later told Fox and Friends that the issue of the ad will come up on his show Sunday (surprise, surprise) but it did take away from issues. "It's an issue, as a reporter I have to cover what the issues are." He could have added, and if my news channel decides something should be an issue, we can make it an issue by focusing on it over and over, and then I will have no choice but to cover it because it's an issue.