Friday, August 20, 2004

THE END OF A SMEAR. The talk of the political world today is the New York Times' evisceration of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Clocking in at nearly 3500 words, the piece - by Kate Zernike and Jim Rutenberg - demonstrates definitively that these anti-John Kerry veterans are not only contradicting what they've said about Kerry in the past, but also what's in the official record.

For good measure, the Times also shows how the group and its financing grew out of the Bush-family/Karl Rove political machine in Texas, some of which had previously been reported by Salon and other outlets. But that wouldn't be especially important if there were anything to the vets' claims. There isn't, nor was there ever any reason to suppose there was. These are not the men who served directly with Kerry. The only reason they were ever taken seriously by anyone is that their tale fits into right-wing attempts to smear Kerry for his role as a leading anti-war activist.

It turns out that yesterday's Washington Post exposé of Larry Thurlow was just an appetizer. As "The Note" asks today, "Does the story peter out on its own over the weekend, or does the now opened-can of worms continue to bear ? well, worms?"

In the Globe, Patrick Healy and Michael Kranish have an account of Kerry's decision finally to take on George W. Bush directly over the vets' sleazy ads. Media Log wonders: did Kerry speak out yesterday knowing that, the next morning, the Times would destroy what little was left of his critics' credibility?

Meanwhile, Drudge - who has still not withdrawn his sliming of Kranish - is very excited about reports that the Kerry campaign has asked bookstores to consider withdrawing the vets' book, Unfit for Command. Well, what's wrong with that? As Eric Boehlert notes, it's hardly unusual for booksellers to disavow books that turn out to be a hoax. Which is precisely what this is.

NARRATIVE TRIUMPH. Like you, I scanned the Globe's four-part series "Best Men" earlier this week and told myself: Sorry, I don't have the time. Unlike you, I went back and read the entire series on the Web after the last installment had been published. I'm glad I did.

Written and reported by Thomas Farragher and Patricia Wen, and photographed by Michele McDonald, "Best Men" is well worth it. It tells the story of two brothers, one gay, one straight, and of their marriages - one of which, needless to say, would not have been possible until this past spring.

It is a first-rate example of narrative journalism, wonderfully written and photographed. Best of all, the subjects themselves are worthy of the thousands of words that have been lavished on them - not always the case when a newspaper trains its eye on ordinary people.

The Web version has more photos than were published in the print edition, as well as audio clips.


Anonymous said...

Karl Rove's pretty smart - for a Norwegian. I don't understand why the Roveistas keep attacking the just about only only worthwhile thing Kerry has done in his entire life. Instead of taking on Kerry the Mediocre Senator they keep giving us Kerry the Sailor Soldier. That's briliant. Karl, put on your lusekofte and get the bleep out!

Vincentine Vermeille said...

I thought the "Best Men" series was dead boring. First of all, it stirred up fake tension with its opening scene of straight brother angry at gay brother for drawing attention away from straight brother's marriage. When the authors finally came to that scene chronologically in the last installment, they revealed that straight brother quickly got over it. So what was the point of the story? I don't disagree that it was good reporting--Dan K. knows more about that than I do, certainly--but it didn't add anything to the discussion of gay marriage. I mean, in my opinion, there's nothing to add at this point; but I guess I hoped "Best Men" would have some point to make about the issue, and was disappointed when it didn't.

Compared to past series they've run--on a poor mother losing her children, or a Latino family and bilingual education--it was totally thin.