Kerry's Cambodia Troubles Ignored

Denver dailies assail candidate's foes but cold-shoulder the issues they raise

Aug. 14, 2004

by David Kopel

According to Newsweek'sassistant managing editor Evan Thomas, "There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards . . . as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them . . ." (Inside Washingtontelevision show, July 10).

Thomas' prediction is amply supported by the (non)coverage which the Denver dailies, like most of the rest of the media, have given to this week's meltdown of the Kerry campaign.

As reported in The Congressional Record,on March 27, 1986, Sen. John Kerry spoke on the Senate floor against U.S. support for the anti-communist contras in Nicaragua:

"I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared - seared - in me . . ."

Likewise, Kerry wrote an Oct. 14, 1979, letter to the editor of the Boston Herald:"I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."

He repeated the Cambodia Christmas story in Senate committee hearings in June 1992 and September 1997.

Actually, in December 1968, the president of the United States was Lyndon Johnson, not Richard Nixon. Nixon's statement that there were "no American combat troops in Cambodia" was made in November 1971.

All available evidence indicates that Kerry was lying about Christmas in Cambodia.

As detailed in the new book Unfit for Command,every officer in Kerry's chain of command denies that Kerry's Swift boat came within 50 miles of Cambodia. Three crewmen on Kerry's boat have denied that they ever went into Cambodia. (The other two refused to be interviewed.)

In Douglas Brinkley's Kerry biography, Tour of Duty,Kerry told Brinkley that he spent Christmas Eve 1968 "near the Cambodian border" in the town of Sa Dec. Sa Dec is in the center of South Vietnam and 50 miles from Cambodia.

The New York Daily News,the New York Post,The Washington Times,and the London Telegraphall covered the Christmas in Cambodia story early this week, but Colorado's Rocky Mountain Newsand Denver Posthave failed to do so.

In Colorado, the Cambodia fraud has been covered in depth on the Hugh Hewitt Show, a national radio program broadcast on KNUS-AM (710) from 4-7 p.m. weekdays. Hewitt interviewed Steve Gardner, who served on Kerry's boat for two of the four months that Kerry spent in Vietnam, from November 1968 through January 1969. Gardner maintains that the boat never came within 50 miles of Cambodia. You can read the interview at: hughhewitt.com/index.htm#postid766.

The Denver dailies have covered the story exclusively by attacking Swift Boat Veterans for Truth through:

An Associated Press article in both papers reporting that John McCain denounced the attacks on Kerry (without providing any evidence that the attacks are factually wrong);

Newscolumnist Mike Littwin criticizing Bush for not criticizing the Swift boat veterans (Aug. 7);

The Post'sJim Spencer defending Kerry's Purple Hearts (a July 30 column with more substance than other Kerry defenses); and

An AP article pointing out that John Corsi, the co-author of Unfit for Commandhas made disparaging remarks about Islam and Catholicism (News, Aug. 11).

Early in the week, the Kerry campaign denied that Kerry had ever claimed to have spent Christmas in Cambodia. Confronted with evidence, the campaign refused to answer questions. On Wednesday, the campaign abandoned the Christmas-in-Cambodia story that had been "seared" in Kerry's memory. The campaign told Fox News that Kerry was in Cambodia sometime, but would not specify when. The campaign told ABC News that Kerry was in the Mekong Delta, which "consists of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, so on Christmas Eve in 1968, he was in fact on patrol."

To the contrary, the Mekong River flows from Cambodia into Vietnam and does not border the two countries; the Mekong Delta is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, and is nowhere near Cambodia.

The Newsignored the story of Kerry retracting three decades of Christmas-in-Cambodia tales. The Postalso ignored the story, and instead ran the attack on John Corsi which had appeared the day before in the News.

It is as if the media had covered the Bush National Guard story only by impugning Bush's critics, while barely acknowledging the substance of the charges. Evan Thomas was right.

 

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