With Kerry’s push-back against critics of his Vietnam service so far succeeding only in prolonging the discussion over whether he earned his medals, the wisdom of his response seems increasingly questionable. The Post’s lead illustrates the dangers for Kerry: Before the Democratic nominee acknowledged the attacks on his record, the big papers didn’t have much to report. Now that he’s responded, however, papers like the Post are presenting both sides of the argument and leaving it to readers to decide what’s true and what isn’t. Reporters’ dogged commitment to “balance” makes them unwilling to say which side is being truthful and which is not. The Post lead takes this route; the paper says Kerry’s critics have failed to prove he’s lying but adds that neither side is being totally honest. This answer, although unclear and unhelpful, is where the issue is likely to remain. The article by Swift boat veteran and Tribune editor William B. Rood may push the debate in Kerry’s favor, however. Rood strongly supports Kerry’s side of the Silver Star story and undercuts a leading Kerry critic by noting that the man praised Kerry during the war.
I wrote up my pessimistic bit before Rood came out in Kerry’s defense. As it is, I haven’t thrown in the towel. The only thing to do is fight for the truth until the election is over, and then plot revenge if Kerry loses due to these lies.