Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
 
Sleazeville

Now that the Kerry rumor is dying out, it's instructive to look back and notice how little the media needs to go running off after a 'scandal'.

Looking at the Drudge piece that started it all, one striking point shows up: even Drudge doesn't come right out and say an affair took place. Instead, he says that several named high-profile news outlets are investigating the story. But Hesiod, who has had some solid coverage, notes that Drudge's actual story, that major media were investigating the rumor, is denied on the record by several of those Drudge names. The other claim by Drudge, that Clark said Kerry was about to implode in an intern scandal, was clearly an attempt to imply that Democrats were behind the story. The very fact that it showed up on Drudge meant this spin is probably fake, furthermore, Drudge's citation of Clark also was described as inaccurate in a talking heads gabfest I saw last weekend - sorry, I didn't take down details. Drudge's statement that Polier had 'fled the country' also is dramatized at best, and the claim that it was at the behest of the Kerry camp looks like yet another fiction. Certainly there is no support for the allegation whatsoever. (You need a visa to visit Kenya. Certainly to be safe, you need inoculations that require some advance scheduling - the CDC recommends at least four weeks in advance. So it's a very unlikely destination for travel undertaken at the last minute just to get away from the media.)

John Ellis strongly implies that the whole thing comes from a woman with a huge grudge against Kerry who has been shopping this and other anti-Kerry stories around for a while. This looks like another attempt to wipe the whole thing clean of any Karl Rove/RNC fingerprints.

In conclusion, there seems to be nothing there at all. The probable source of the allegation is a single anonymous individual with no particular credibility. The people involved have denied the story. The woman's parents are publicly supportive of Kerry; the widely published claim that the father called Kerry a 'sleazeball' - printed in a disreputable rght wing Murdoch tab, but widely and uncritically repeated - also look to be phony. And yet this nothing was still substantive enough to dominate a large portion of the media for several news cycles - on Valentine's day, just for the irony.



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