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We might report, but please don't decide

OK, Your Humble Blogger will clog up the blog by complaining about the same thing all the other bloggers are complaining about. Feel free to skip this one.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth paid for a television ad where people who claim to have served with John Kerry say he’s unfit to command, and claim that he “lied to get his Bronze Star”. There is also a recent book that makes those claims and more, including that two of the three wounds for which he received purple hearts were self-inflicted.

Now, charges such as those are big news, and the newspapers and chat shows have covered them in some detail. But are they true? Well, according to some research, there is good reason to doubt them. The Kerry campaign responds quite credibly; of course I support his campaign, so you may take my credulity as you will. Of course, the money behind the organization spreading the charges comes from supporters of Our Only President and his cronies (according to this and several other stories), so take their credulity as you will as well.

Actually, YHB doesn’t particularly care about John Kerry’s war record, nor even about his honesty about his war record. Were the charges credible, I’d still prefer John Kerry’s mendacity to that of Our Only President and his cronies. I have an old-fashioned sense that being in a war gives you a sort of right to tell war stories, which like fish stories are proverbs for, um. But that’s neither here nor there, as many people clearly would find that making a fraudulent war history the centerpiece of a campaign is, you know, a reason to vote for some other guy. Or something.

But there is some evidence to the charges, and some evidence against them. There are reports made at the time, both narrative and descriptive, and reports of what I would call hard evidence, bullet holes in boats, and medical reports, and so on. I myself have seen little of it, and frankly since I don’t care I ain’t making the time to sift it. I would like to think that the reporters covering the hoo-hah have seen the evidence, and have weighed it, one piece against another. And they are showing no sign that they have, or that anybody should. If you’re with me this far, Gentle Reader, please read this (longish) article by David Espo for the AP with this question in mind: How does Mr. Espo expect the reader to decide if the charges are true or false?

I don’t mean whether Mr. Espo believes them. Nor do I mean whether Mr. Espo provides sufficient information in the story for you to decide; that’s not the purpose of this story. I mean whether Mr. Espo seems to think that, on the whole, it would be a good idea for you to try to figure out whether the charges are true. As well, how does Mr. Espo think you ought to try to do that? And, does Mr. Espo think you have access to enough information elsewhere to decide who to trust?

This is what pisses me off. Not that this is getting more ink than the report in the Weekly World News about Our Only President using Father Aristide’s mad voodoo skillz to curse Sen. Kerry. No, it’s that this reporter, and dozens like him, don’t seem to expect me to know or care about making a reasoned, intelligent, educated decision. It’s like they want me to just go with my party affiliation, or to throw up my hands and say ‘they’re all liars, I won’t vote at all’. Ooh. I won’t be an idiot just because they want me to.

Oh, and before I go, John Scalzi has an excellent note going in a different (but more interesting) direction from the same starting place. If you’re down here at the bottom, and want still more ranting with the words ‘swift boat’ ‘reporter’ and ‘idiot’, make Whatever your very next stop.



This is a tangential response, but it is my hope that the depiction of Rita Skeeter and _The Daily Prophet_ in the Harry Potter books will educate a generation of children not to tolerate the shoddy excuse for reporting that we now are forced to endure.

I plan to begin using the perjorative phrase, "Reporting worthy of Rita Skeeter and _The Daily Prophet_" regularly as an expression of contempt; perhaps if some Connectors pick it up, it will catch on.

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