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Hack Gap III

Gerry Canavan wonders why liberals don't seem to have much in the way of talking points and if it might be related to the hack gap. It is, I get emailed talking points from the Kerry campaign on a regular basis, and while I read them and consider what they have to say, I don't go around mindlessly regurgitating them. I'm a journalist, not a plagiarist, not a hack.

Speaking of which, I was on Hugh Hewitt last night as I am every Wednesday, and he was none to pleased with last week's post implying that he was a hack. We had a full and frank exchange of views (as the saying goes) on the subject, so I'll say no more about it, except to note that at the end he explained that he's in it for the money, not for partisan advantage....

To make an unrelated point, the Swift Boat Veterans for Lying and Bullshit ad is, as Jacob Weisberg says, "beyond vile". Just before I went on, Hugh read for his listeners edification a Deborah Orin column in The New York Post noting (accurately) that the ads seem to be having the intended effect of bringing Kerry's ratings down. That the ads are a tissue of malicious lies was not noted. Does Kerry need to hit back harder? Probably the campaign shouldn't, part of the lesson of the SBVL&B episode is that you want plausible deniability. But if an outside group was to hit Bush -- really hard, over and over again with a bunch of different ads -- on totally non-policy subjects related to his constant lying, I wouldn't shed any tears. Fundamentally, though, I think the campaign will be decided based on whether or not Bush can force his continuing fiasco in Iraq off the front pages.

August 19, 2004 | Permalink


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"I'll say no more about it, except to note that at the end he explained that he's in it for the money, not for partisan advantage...."

I came here right after listening to your segment on Hugh Hewitt over the internet and I must say that was a real cheap shot, totally taken out of context.

You repeatedly alluded to Bush's lies on air. Hugh gave you several opportunities to point them out but the worst you could come up with was the number of flight training hours Bush had logged. This remindeds me of those people that insist that Bush is destroying America. Just looking around I don't see it happening and when you ask for some concrete examples they just repeat the same unsupported claims more emphatically. To me, that is the definition of a hack.

Posted by: nash | Aug 19, 2004 3:02:08 AM

Matt - I listened to that exchange on KRLA in Los Angeles. I had a hard time keeping it on because of the disingenousness of Hugh's argument. He kept yammering at you for "not validating the other person's arguments," while failing to recognize that that is exactly how he makes his living - attempting to marginalize

I think you're way to nice to Hugh.


Posted by: EdT | Aug 19, 2004 3:16:30 AM

Nash -

You and I heard different radio shows then. I heard Hugh constantly attempt to rationalize why Kerry's miniscule, inconsequential faulty memory of Cambodia 30 years ago is a major blow to Kerry's credibility while completely ignoring the possibility that recent, more egregious, more important lies by Bush can in any way damage Bush's credibility.

How do YOU reconcile those positions?


Posted by: EdT | Aug 19, 2004 3:20:42 AM

Regarding the SBVT, there has been -- to put it mildly -- an important development:


It turns out that Larry Thurlow's own Bronze Star citation explicitly mentions his bravery in carrying out the rescue despite "enemy bullets flying about him". Thurlow, confronted with this by the Post, now says that (A) Kerry must have provided the report on which Thurlow's own Bronze Star was based; (B) Thurlow lost his personal copy of his Bronze Star citation in 1984; (B) he is shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that it explicitly and repeatedly mentions those bullets (having apparently never bothered to read his own copy during the 15 years he claims to have had it); and (C) he refuses to release his own military records for fear they "might be used to discredit him and other anti-Kerry veterans".

On the other side, the article also cites another one of the five Swift Boat skippers -- Richard Pees -- as now joining Thurlow and Jack Chenoweth as saying that he doesn't remember any enemy fire. But on still another note: George Elliott "has refused repeated requests for an interview after issuing conflicting statements to the Boston Globe about whether Kerry deserved a Silver Star. He was unreachable last night."

It's still too early to nail this down definitely; but -- when you combine all this with the way Adm. Hoffmann and Capt. Lonsdale have definitely and radically changed their stories about Kerry just in the last month, in order to make him look worse -- it starts to look to me as though we are, more likely than not, looking at an organized conspiracy by the SBVTers to get Kerry because (as Thurlow says again in the Post article) they're absolutely furious at him for saying that US war crimes were frequent in Vietnam.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw | Aug 19, 2004 4:27:13 AM

"Hugh gave you several opportunities to point them out but the worst you could come up with was the number of flight training hours Bush had logged" provokes the question of what Bush's five worst lies are. Perhaps:

1) “You can't distinguish between al-Qaeda and Saddam.”
2) "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
3) "The budget I submitted earlier this year commits an additional $400 billion over 10 years to implement this vision of a stronger Medicare system. This is enough to meet our commitments to the seniors today and to future generations of Americans.
4)Tim Russert – "Would you authorize the release of everything to settle this?" Bush – "Yes, absolutely. We did so in 2000 by the way."
5)"And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

Posted by: Mike | Aug 19, 2004 7:05:54 AM

this is so typical of republicans!
it will be a shame if someone doesnt seize this thurlow story and paint the hypocritical picture for everyone to see.

Posted by: captainblak | Aug 19, 2004 8:23:49 AM

As if Bush HASN'T been the victim of negative ads for a year now. And they're gloves off ads. Have been right from the start. So stop you're crying.

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Aug 19, 2004 8:57:25 AM

Perhaps soon we'll see a tipping point when to those who are in it for the money it will seem more profitable to support Kerry, because his election seems inevitable. Perhaps Kerry's moneyed opponents will remember how they were unable to topple a quite self-sabotaging Clinton, and realize they've hardly prospered under Bush.

Posted by: happythoughts | Aug 19, 2004 9:02:25 AM

And they're gloves off ads.

Not really.

This is a gloves-off ad.

Posted by: praktike | Aug 19, 2004 9:14:09 AM

Swift Boat Veterans for Lying and Bullshit

More slime from the left-wing against veterans who served our country honorably... from someone who didn't.

Wish I could say I'm surprised.

Posted by: Al | Aug 19, 2004 10:47:24 AM

I get emailed talking points from the Kerry campaign on a regular basis, and while I read them and consider what they have to say, I don't go around mindlessly regurgitating them.

Yeah, because that's exactly what the right-wing bloggers do. You know, I saw Andy Sullivan agree with the President on gey marriage... ooops, that didn't happen, did it? And I saw Instapundit agree with the President on stem cell research... wait, that didn't happen either! And I see that Drezner and Oxblog are completely defending how the Administration has conducted the war... hmmm, now that doesn't seem to be happening either.

Who are all of these right-wing hacks again?

Posted by: Al | Aug 19, 2004 11:01:27 AM

Al -

How do you respond to the news today that Larry Thurlow's own military records go against everything he's saying about John Kerry? Simply put, either Thurlow is lying, or the entire U.S. Navy is lying. Which do you think it is?

Posted by: EdT | Aug 19, 2004 11:33:29 AM

Screw the records. Larry Thurlow ouldn't lie.

Posted by: Al | Aug 19, 2004 11:36:06 AM

Elliott, the guy who could clear up whether Kerry and/or Thurlow deserved their awards, is not avaliable for comment.

Ever wonder why that is, Al?

Posted by: The Dark Avenger | Aug 19, 2004 11:47:52 AM

And one more thing.

That the ads are a tissue of malicious lies was not noted.

Right, as if that were even relevant. *snort* It's now obvious that Matthew has become such a partisan hack that he's incapable of thinking about this issue rationally. No wonder why he continually "forgets" to admit that no matter what Kerry and Bush might have done in Vietnam, the fact remains that Bush supported standing up to the Viet Cong while Kerry supported abandoning tens of millions of South Vietnamese to totalitarian rule. But lefties like Matt are always willing to sell out dark-skinned foreigners as long as they get to enjoy the elitist comforts of home. Typical liberal hypocrisy at its finest! But hey, look over there! He has three purple hearts!

Posted by: Al | Aug 19, 2004 11:56:05 AM

Not bad, Fake Al.

Posted by: Al (Real One) | Aug 19, 2004 12:08:06 PM


Of course it was Bush who was enjoying the "elitist comforts of home" while John Kerry was getting shot at in Vietnam. But hey, look over there I'm the jobs president, whoops no...I'm a war president... no wait I'm a peace president er, I mean Kerry's a librul, flip flopper...


Posted by: rcman | Aug 19, 2004 12:19:31 PM

Sullivan, Drezner, Oxblog, Instagoober -- those aren't the hacks. They are a carefully selected group of independents, libertarians and war liberals, and even so the goober is hackish often enough. So, Other Fake Al, you must not have been trying very hard when you looked for hacks.

Actually, Matt may have been thinking of the trolls on this and other sites, whose hackishness can be astonishing.

Posted by: Fake Al | Aug 19, 2004 1:15:52 PM

So, Other Fake Al, you must not have been trying very hard when you looked for hacks.

Oh, I'm sorry. So I guess the presence of some bloggers on one side or the other who turn out not to be hacks really means nothing.

And, OK, I'll look a little harder for hacks. Say here, here, and here.

Posted by: Al | Aug 19, 2004 3:45:48 PM

I seriously doubt that when MY says "hacks," he's referring to blog commenters. I assume he's referring to bloggers, newspaper columnists, TV commentators, etc. He seems to think the right-wing opinionators are more partisan that the left-wingers. I can't see any evidence to support that. Both sides have partisan hacks, and both sides have ideological, yet independent voices. Most of my favorite writers are conservative, but not party-line Republican.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 19, 2004 4:00:43 PM

MY: If the swiftboat ads are bringing down Kerry's numbers they must be exceptionally powerful and extremely widespread. Does anyone know how many ads have been run and in how many markets? I heard a number that was very low indeed and a budget that was in the low six figures. Certainly not enough to move any candidates rating needle. They haven't run in my market.

Posted by: Michael Murphy | Aug 19, 2004 5:01:49 PM

Usually people put their strongest argument out first. Matt could only give one example of Bush's lies which he took from a biography of George Bush. He finally agreed with Hugh that it could have been an error on the biographer's part rather than an intentional attempt at deception by Bush.

Roger then offered in the comments here a few other examples. Taking just the first one:

1) “You can't distinguish between al-Qaeda and Saddam.”

A quick search on Google reveals that Roger is simply quoting out of context to mislead. Here's the entire quote:

"Both of them need to be dealt with. The war on terror, you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror. And so it's a comparison that is -- I can't make because I can't distinguish between the two, because they're both equally as bad, and equally as evil, and equally as destructive."

You may disagree with Bush's opinion, but that's different from lying.


If someone makes up stories for personal aggrandizement and to make rhetorical attacks against their political opponents over several decades, then surely you must agree that there is something scary, disturbing, and Nixon-like about that person. That is what Kerry is accused of doing and what the major media refuses to examine. And that's why it's a big deal with so many conservative to moderate voices.

Posted by: nash | Aug 19, 2004 5:03:55 PM


I would like you to support that the Swifties book is a tissue of lies. I respect your opinion, but I must admit, I have read the defenses of Kerry on this and for the most part they have been incoherent and openly ignore what has already been uncovered or the actual basis upon which the Vet's make their charges. That doesn't mean the charges are true, though some have been shown to be so by the Kerry campaigns own admission. I suspect you could do better. Could you take the time to do so point by point.

As for those attacking Mr. Thurlow, your coplaint doesn't work. Maybe he and the other officers who were there are all lying, but this doesn't prove it. Thurlow and the SBVT have been consistent in saying the other officers didn't write up the report. They never claimed there was enemy fire in the first place. Now maybe they are lying and did write up the report, but that is what has to be shown. Thurlow has said that if the basis of his award was that he was under enemy fire then he doesn't deserve it. That is honorable if he is telling the truth. He and the other officers (and it should be noted that all the officers and majority of those there that support the charge) have provided specific claims and evidence to back up there charge. Those arguments need to be confronted. Smearing them will not do. If they are telling the truth then what they have done is not a smear, but a public service. If they are lying they should be shamed publicly. We seem to be doing the shaming before finding out if they are telling the truth.

By the way, Bush's mendacity or lack thereof doesn't mean we get to ignore Kerry's.

Posted by: Lance Paddock | Aug 19, 2004 5:22:06 PM

Sorry for the typos and sloppy grammar.

Posted by: Lance Paddock | Aug 19, 2004 5:24:02 PM


So far I've seen little or nothing to make me doubt the word of 254 "Swifties" but a LOT to make me want to cross-check everything Kerry says.

I'm sure if you asked Kerry what day of the week it was, he'd give you at least three different answers...

As for lies, what about all the "Bush arranged to evacuate the Binladen family" stuff from M.Moron's movie - or have you all chosen to ignore the fact that the BL family left AFTER airspace had been reopened and were cleared by none other that Richard Clark?

Posted by: Luke | Aug 19, 2004 6:08:10 PM

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