Jewish World Review Feb. 18, 2005 / 9 Adar I, 5765
The recent resignation of CNN's news director, Eason Jordan,
after his outrageous remarks about our military at an international forum
were reported on the Internet, is only the latest in a series of media
scandals, of which Dan Rather's forged documents were just one. Media bias
does not consist in having liberal or conservative opinions but in how you
do your job or don't do it.
One document whose authenticity is not likely to be questioned
by the mainstream media is the honorable discharge on Senator John Kerry's
web site. Yet who in the major media has investigated why that honorable
discharge is dated during the Carter administration, when Kerry's military
service ended years earlier?
This is the same media that spent months investigating George W.
Bush's military record and, even after key allegations were revealed to be
based on forgeries, continued publicizing rumors and innuendoes. They didn't
stop even after the President signed Form 180, opening all his military
records to the public.
But who in the major media has asked why John Kerry would need
to be issued an honorable discharge during the Carter administration, years
after leaving the navy, unless his original discharge was less than
One of Jimmy Carter's first acts as President was to issue an
order granting amnesties to draft dodgers who had fled the country during
the Vietnam war and also allowing an upgrading of military discharges that
had been less than honorable.
There is more to this than simply a strange date on an honorable
discharge. The covering memo refers to U.S. Code Title 10, sections 1162 and
1163. Anyone who bothers to read those sections will discover that they are
about unusual circumstances for issuing discharges from the military
Senator Kerry never signed Form 180 to make all his military
records public, as President Bush had done and the media didn't press him
to do so. Even after Kerry's widely publicized role as a war hero was
challenged by numerous men who had served with him in Vietnam, the media
remained totally uninterested in checking out his record.
This gross double standard is the real media scandal, even more
than the forged documents, which were after all the responsibility of just
one network and one program.
Maybe there is a perfectly innocent explanation for Senator
Kerry's late-dated honorable discharge during the Carter administration. But
no explanation has been asked or given, even though there may also be a not
so innocent explanation.
What is well known is that, during the Vietnam war, John Kerry
went to Paris on his own and engaged in discussions or negotiations with
representatives of the country with whom we were at war, even though he was
still an officer in the naval reserve.
That raises legal questions about unauthorized personal
diplomacy which naval authorities may not have overlooked as generously as
the media did, and which could have affected the kind of discharge that
One of the few people in the media who has shown any interest at
all in Kerry's military records has been Tim Russert of "Meet the Press." He
asked Senator Kerry on April 18, 2004 if he would "make all your records
public." Kerry indicated that his records were already public, that people
"can come and see them" at his headquarters.
But recently, on January 30, 2005, when Tim Russert again raised
that question and asked "Would you sign Form 180?" the form that Bush had
signed to open all his military records Kerry started off on a tangent
before Russert interrupted him to repeat that same question. This time Kerry
said, "Yes, I will."
He will? He had already done so last year, if you believe what
he said then. But will the media call him on it if he doesn't follow through
now? Don't bet on it.
This is not about the past or ultimately even about Kerry or
Bush. It is about the future of this country. A gullible public learning
only what is filtered to them by a biased media is not a hopeful sign for
the future of a democracy.
Some of the public have begun to wake up but more need to do so.
Many in the media also need to wake up to what they are doing, or failing to
do, when their politics taints their work.
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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One." (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) To comment please click here.