Headlines drive editors' agenda, nevermind the stories


If a reader takes the time to go behind the headlines, even the New York Times shows the Democratic indignation and claims of Bush responsibility and illegal coordination over the Swift ads is hypocritical.  Maybe this is all old stuff to those of us who are paying attention to the blogosphere, but I wonder if the media—supported Democratic onslaught has obscured these facts from many who casually glance at the one—time 'newspaper of record' in the morning, a group which includes many editors of lesser broadsheets.

I thought to myself, "uh oh" when I saw the headline "Veterans' Group Had G.O.P. Lawyer" above the fold on the front page of today's New York Times  ("Bush Campaign's Top Outside Lawyer Advised Veterans Group" in the internet edition).  The subhead, "Bush Camp Advisor Aided Anti—Kerry Effort," made it sound all the more ominous.  Could this be the smoking gun to support the Kerry campaign's charge of illegal coordination between Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush campaign?  But having long ago observed how the Times uses it's headlines and story positioning to drive it's political agenda, I read on to learn that:

The campaign of Senator John Kerry shares a lawyer, Robert Bauer, with America Coming Together, a liberal group that is organizing a huge multimillion—dollar get—out—the—vote drive that is far more ambitious than the Swift boat group's activities. Mr. Ginsberg said his role was no different from Mr. Bauer's."

The front page trumpeting of the fact that a Bush campaign lawyer gave legal advice to the Swifties also mentioned that:

Campaign finance rules do not prohibit lawyers from working for both outside groups and campaigns because they are not considered strategists.

Maybe the editors of the Times should learn a little about objectivity from its reporters.

While on the subject of the 527 committees controversy, we can learn quite a bit from other articles in today's Times against the backdrop of the Democratic party's hysterical attempts to muzzle the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.  "G.O.P. Group Says It's Ready to Wage Ad Warincludes:

"I don't think we ought to have 527's," Mr. Bush said. "I think they're bad for the system."

Indeed, Republicans spent months arguing that the 527 committees were illegal and should be regulated. When the Federal Election Commission declined in May to impose tough regulations on those groups, many Republicans promised to begin raising money. Only lately have they gained traction.

Glen Justice's balanced article goes on to state:

Groups that support Democrats are continuing to raise money for advertisements that attack Mr. Bush. Democrats embraced fund—raising through the 527 committees last year and, in contrast to the Republicans, never wavered while the election commission was weighing whether to restrict the committees.

The organizations have drawn on a list of well—known Democrats to lead them. Harold M. Ickes, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, runs the Media Fund. Steve Rosenthal, former political director for the A.F.L.—C.I.O., is in charge of the ground operation for ACT. And Ellen Malcolm, who runs Emily's List, the largest political action committee in the country, raises money for both organizations.

Yet there is a firestorm over the Swift Vote Veterans for Truth which operates with a fraction of the funding of the Democratic supported 527 groups.

Mr. Ginsberg had been at the forefront of pressing the legal case against Democratic 527's, which have spent more than $60 million on advertisements against Mr. Bush.

In complaints against the groups, Republican lawyers have noted that Harold M. Ickes, who has helped raise money for and organize America Coming Together and the Media Fund, both 527 groups, is also on the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee.

The chairman of the Democratic convention, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, has been an adviser to another 527 group, the New Democrat Network. And Jim Jordan, a spokesman for the Media Fund, was Mr. Kerry's campaign manager until he resigned in November.

Mr. Ginsberg said he decided to help Republican groups after the Federal Election Commission declined to imposed strict rules on the 527 groups in May.

Also from "In New York City Before His Rival, Kerry Rouses Friends and Rips Into Foes" the following:

Republicans pointed to links on the Democratic National Committee's Web site to another independent group, MoveOn.org, which has run harsh ads attacking the president's stateside service in the National Guard, and noted that Mr. Kerry himself had participated in a house party thrown by that group.

Mr. Kerry has condemned those ads as inappropriate even as he has at times raised similar questions, while Mr. Bush has skipped several chances to criticize the Swift boat group specifically, saying only that he thinks all such third—party groups should cease.

Finally, the Times editorial. "Swift Boats and the Texas Nexus"   once more illustrates how the "paper of record" has become completely unhinged in its desperate attempt to defeat President Bush:

Rather than single out the Swift boat group, Mr. Bush condemned all such stealth—party activities, Democratic and Republican, which have sprung up to evade legal restrictions on the flood of "soft money'' into political races. Mr. Bush called on Mr. Kerry to join in renouncing these specialists in low—blow politicking — an idea we applaud. This page has long criticized the Democrats' pioneering soft—money evasions, and the Federal Election Commission's refusal to control these rogue operations.

But the president had hardly finished speaking when the White House began sidestepping, insisting that Mr. Bush had not intended to single out the anti—Kerry ads as something that should be stopped. This is unfortunate. Senator McCain has called on the administration to "specifically condemn" the ads.

Senator Kerry invited debate on his war service by making it a keystone of his campaign. But that means fair debate. Some of the veterans in the ads criticizing Mr. Kerry have praised his courage in the past. No one has offered evidence to contradict the record. By failing to condemn the ads, Mr. Bush leaves the impression that he condones this effort to turn the historical record into a partisan blur.

We see in the space of three paragraphs that while the editors of the Times believe that all 527 advertisements must be controlled, they are unhappy that President Bush condemned them all instead of just the one attacking Kerry on Vietnam.  We see that while the Times states that debate on Kerry's Vietnam service is warranted, they condemn any challenges to Kerry's record by those who are most knowledgeable of the facts, ignoring the fact that they have already caused the Kerry campaign to back off on some of its claims related to his Vietnam service.

Posted by Mike Nadler  8 25 04