Another media distortion
I just fired off a letter to the editor of The State
(Columbia SC). I don't know if they will publish it, so I will here:
Has The State adopted the lax standards of accuracy and veracity employed by the New York Times?
In the July 30, 2004 print edition of The State
, on page A4, the following sentence appears (in an article with no byline)(I could not find it online - Ed.
"Standing with his crewmates, all fiercely loyal to Kerry, former Special Forces officer Jim Rassmann told the nation how Kerry saved his life in 1969."
While the sentence could be interpreted as referring only to the crewmates actually standing with him on the stage at the Democrat convention, it will likely be interpreted by many to indicate that all of Kerry's crewmates are "fiercely loyal" to him. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, according to the website Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (www.swiftvets.com
), whose members include some of those very crewmates:
"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth contacted surviving members of [Kerry's Coastal Group 11, pictured with him on their site] to find out how many actually support John Kerry, and discovered that of 19 Swift boat skippers pictured other than Kerry, 11 consider him unfit, 4 are neutral, two have died, and 2 are working with the Kerry campaign. Four other officers were not present for the photo session; all oppose Kerry. Only 2 of John Kerry's [21 surviving] fellow Swift boat commanders from Coastal Division 11 support his candidacy today."
The site also has many quotes from people who served with Kerry, including this one from Steve Gardner, a member of Kerry's crew:
"I served ... with John Kerry in the last 2 1/2 months of my [second Swift Boat] tour. The John Kerry that I know is not the John Kerry that everybody else is portraying. I served alongside him and behind him, five feet away from him in a gun tub, and watched as he made indecisive moves with our boat, put our boats in jeopardy, put our crews in jeopardy... if a man like that can't handle that 6-man crew boat, how can you expect him to be our Commander-in-Chief?"
I cannot say for sure if the article was intentionally trying to mislead readers about the attitudes of Kerry's fellow Vietnam vets toward him, or if this was merely a case of overlooking a sloppy, ambiguous sentence. Either way, The State has misrepresented the attitudes towards Kerry of those who served with him, and needs to print a correction.
is an image of the print article.
UPDATE 2: The pictures and text at www.swiftvets.com
have been updated to indicate that only one
of Kerry's fellow swift boat skippers actually supports his candidacy.