Tuesday Update. Melanie Phillips expresses my feelings on the ‘categorically untrue’ affair.Sunday Update: Read Mark Steyn on The Lop-Sided Take. So there are two rounds of scandal-mongering taking place as Kerry and Bush begin to square up to each other. One is well known from the last election, the other is becoming well known. How this process is handled by the BBC is very important: each word in a report about the Kerry ‘whatsit’ must be measured, and of course journalists themselves are sparring over the way this ‘whatsit’ finds its way into the public mind. The report I saved yesterday on the BBC website is very different to the one I found this morning.
Firstly, what’s the case for ignoring the Kerry ‘whatsit’? As Vodkapundit illustrates, it’s important to stay cool. Firstly I suppose that not enough information has been revealed to prove the central allegation true. Secondly that many of the sources are clearly politically interested ones. Thirdly you may not think sex is that important in deciding who is fit to govern. Fourthly the alleged source of the allegation, Wesley Clark, has just offered his wholehearted endorsement of Kerry, and you may say that proves that the story is poorly founded, if the source can’t be relied on to reiterate the allegation(s).
But while the BBC devoted only a few lines to the Kerry ‘whatsit’ as part of a report in which the major foci were General Clark’s endorsement and alleged Republican dirty tricks, they gave a whole report to the continuing rumpus over President Bush’s alleged poor Vietnam war service record. Never mind the fact that this is old news. Never mind that it was covered during the last campaign. Never mind that the parties prolonging the affair are clearly politically motivated, never mind the fact that the records support Bush against accusations of major wrong-doing, never mind the fact that whatever behaviour Bush might be accused of, it happened not just over one year (like Kerry’s ‘whatsit’) but over thirty years ago. Never mind the facts, in fact, lets run a story against President Bush and be hush-hush over the Kerry ‘whatsit’.