Friday, August 06, 2004

These days, you just do NOT mess with the blogosphere

(An amusing story of right-wing, back-stabbing duplicity with some interesting repercussions on how news is going to be delivered in the near future.)

Right now, the hot blogosphere story is about a team of right-wing hatchet men, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth", who are making the talk show circuit, slagging John Kerry's war record in Vietnam. The impression you get from the introduction of any of these individuals is that these are men who "served" with Kerry in Vietnam, on Kerry's own Swift boat. What's generally not mentioned is that none of them were actually on Kerry's own boat -- when they say they "served with Kerry," all they're apparently referring to is that they were in Vietnam at the same time, perhaps on another Swift boat, or perhaps on the same boat as Kerry was on, but before or after he was actually there. All very clever, all well done and deliberately misleading to leave just the right mistaken impression.

But here's the kicker, as described by both atrios and DCBlues over at dailykos: one of those Swift Boat lying sacks of ... uh, one of those alleged Kerry compatriots, Larry Thurlow, was a guest on Inside Politics, being interviewed by yet another worthless CNN talking head, Judy Woodruff. Thurlow was criticizing Kerry's Bronze Star, claiming that, on the day Kerry earned it for alleged bravery in action, they were never in any danger and were never under fire.

According to the interview transcript,

THURLOW: ... My thought is that since no mine was detected on the other side of the river, no blast was seen, no noise heard, there's two things that are inconsistent with my memory ... Our boats immediately put automatic weapons fire on to the left bank just in case there was an ambush in conjunction with the mine. It soon became apparent there was no ambush ... I distinctly remember we were under no fire from either bank.

Seems pretty clear -- Thurlow is downplaying the danger of the whole thing to cast suspicion on Kerry's medal. But (and here's the good part), Thurlow himself was awarded the same Bronze Star for bravery for exactly the same mission. Fascinating. So if Kerry never deserved his medal, well, clearly neither did Thurlow. But that little tidbit never came up in conversation. How convenient. And there's no record of Thurlow being in any hurry to give back his medal as a sign of protest. Isn't that special? But that's not where this is going.

All of the above has already been done by the other, big-time bloggers, so it's not like I'm adding anything to the story. But if you read the followup over at dailykos in the comments, there's a sudden rush of comments along the lines of:

For what it's worth, I just sent the link to Inside Politics, along with the quote about Thurlow's bronze star. We'll see if they bother to do anything with it...

I sent the link to Judy Woodruff and Wolf Blitzer's email accounts, too...

Wolf Blitzer, Aaron Brown, Paul Krugman, Jodi Wilgoren, Adam Nagourney, news-tips at the New York Times, Chris Matthews and a few others...

And you can see how this changes the entire dynamics of news, particularly the absolute crap that passes for the political pundit talk shows. Now, as one of these right-wing hacks is telling a totally bogus story, they should be thinking in the back of their minds that there are some deadly serious observers, listening, recording what they're saying, downloading the online transcripts, and heading out into cyberspace to find the actual facts.

And, within minutes, the truth (you know, the real truth, not what you get from Fox or CNN) is hitting the big blogs, and the readers are making their annoyance known via direct email to the show's hosts, producers and directors. Sometimes, perhaps, before the show is even off the air.

This really does change everything, and it's going to be interesting to see if any of Big Media, having given Thurlow and his reprehensible colleagues all of this face time, will follow up with how they've been thoroughly suckered. It's not like they haven't been handed the story on a silver platter, is it?

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