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Faking It?

Reported by Judy - September 10, 2004 -

Fox News was all over the story of George Bush's National Guard service today (Sept. 10), with the emphasis on whether the documents cited by CBS Wednesday night were fakes. The Foxers used non sequiturs and innuendos to undermine the thrust of recent news stories about Bush's failure to do his duty in the guard and turn it instead into an attack on Kerry.

Fox and Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Juliet Huddy went through the details of a Washington Post story that says four documents discussed on the show appear to have been printed using a word processor not in existence in the early 1970s. The documents were signed by Bush's superior in the guard, Jerry Killian, now deceased.

Doocy said criticisms of Bush's guard service was further undermined because the daughter of the man who said he pulled strings to get Bush into the guard says her father is doing it for political reasons. Amy Barnes, daughter of Ben Barnes, also said he is writing a book. For the Foxers, that means Barnes' statement should not be believed. Saying something for political reasons, however, does not mean that the statement is false. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence for political reasons, for crying out loud. And political motivations certainly did not lead Fox to question the smear boaters. Fox News should apply the same standard here.

Doocy also was impressed by the fact that Killian's widow says her husband was not a "paper person" and Huddy added that the widow said he would not have liked the fact that his documents were being used against a fellow Guard member. Again, the fact that he wouldn't like how the documents were being used doesn't mean the information in the documents is wrong.

Later, in an interview with Chris Wallace about his show on Sunday, the co-hosts were more interested in talking about CBS and the documents than about Wallace's show. Wallace tried to change the subject but the co-hosts wouldn't give it up.

"This could be big," Doocy said, referring to the possibility the documents were forged. Wallace said he didn't know about that but, "It certainly is entertaining." Kilmeade insisted, "Isn't it big if CBS used forged documents on 60 Minutes with that little ticking sound?" Wallace sighed and said, "Yeah, I certainly think it will be embarrassing. ... I don't think it has a lot of impact in terms of the campaign."

Doocy wanted to know if CBS should reveal the source of the documents, but Wallace ducked the question saying, "Are you trying to pull a Chris Wallace on me" by presenting him with documents and demanding an explanation.

When Huddy finally changed the subject to Wallace's show, Wallace said, "Oh, God bless you Juliet." Wallace, son of 60 Minutes veteran Mike Wallace, clearly did not like having the focus taken off his own show. He also was not convinced that the allegedly forged documents had any connection to or impact on the Kerry campaign.

Later, Oliver North implied that the Kerry campaign was the source of the documents when he said Kerry should "perhaps even apologize for his campaign slipping documents ... phony documents like we've just seen." If the documents turn out to be forgeries, North said, "It's going to be a pattern of deception that has plagued John Kerry ever since his time back in Vietnam. John Kerry is now being defined by his own actions as a liar."

Fox News' coverage allowed it to bring up the smear boat issue again, as when Kilmeade asked North whether the two issues were the same. It did not, however, re-play the Texans for Truth ad as it did the smear boat ad endlessly.

Fox News's coverage also ignored comments from a fellow member of the Guard saying he never saw Bush in the unit, even though he tried to seek him out. It also ignored Boston Globe reports that Bush failed to show up for his Guard assignment in Boston when he went to Harvard Business School.

Fox no doubt likes the faked documents allegations because they can spin it to "prove" that CBS is part of the "liberal media." But what will it say about the fact that the Washington Post hired experts to review the documents? Maybe they'll give the credit to the Washington Times.