Well, one question has been answered. If you are a veteran living in Oregon and you come out against John Kerry, you had better be ready for a rough ride.
Most days, Alfred French could slip quietly out the side door of the Clackamas County courthouse and make the short walk to his office unnoticed.
But on Wednesday morning, when the graying, bespectacled prosecutor stepped outside, the television cameras converged and a single protester carrying a sign with French’s picture started to yell.
“Liar! Liar! Liar! Resign!”
Of course, the Democrats make the obligatory genuflection in the general direction of the First Amendment before taking off the gloves and beating senseless anyone who would have the temerity to oppose their chosen candidate.
Al French made a mistake. He did not make the error in taking part in the Swiftboat Veterans for truth, he did not make an error in thinking that it would damage the Kerry candidacy, he made the error of underestimating the lengths the Democratic Party would go to to destroy him for speaking out. He did not recognize that the lip service paid by the Democrat Party in support of free elections and First Amendment protections is just that, lip service.
After Church made the commercial and it started running in three states, his problems started. A group who declares that they are non-political started filing ethics complaints with the Oregon State Bar Association. His office was inundated with “activists” telling his boss, the Clackamas County DA, that he should resign because he did not actually witness the events that he said Kerry lied about.
One of the people making an ethics complaint against Mr. Church is Carole Johnson, chair of the Linn County Democratic Central Committee, who is neither a veteran or non-political. She told the local newspaper, the Albany Democrat-Herald that she “believes the issue is serious and pointed to polls showing that the ad campaign had resulted in a 18 percent drop in veterans’ support for Kerry”.
Then someone tipped off the newspaper that he had had an extra-marital affair with someone in his office.
When considered in the context of the other actions of the Kerry campaign, threatening to sue TV stations that run the ad, threatening a lawsuit against the publishers of “Unfit for Command”, trying to paint the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth as connected the Bush campaign, it is quite clear that this is in fact an attempt by Kerry supporters to destroy a critic and discourage anyone else from speaking.
The Oregonian has a piece in their Sunday paper regarding this issue. In it they explain that they were justified in the treatment they have given this story.
When the newspaper received a tip about French’s affair, reporter Stephen Beaven confronted French and he admitted it. His former boss also told Beaven that if French had confessed to it 10 years ago, he would have been fired. The fact that French lied about an offense that would have cost him his job convinced Maurer the story should be published. “It didn’t matter if it was an affair or stealing paper clips,” Maurer says. “It was because it was a fireable offense.”
French told people in the ad that Kerry was lying, “that he didn’t have credibility,” Maurer says, “It’s rational for readers to ask, ‘Mr. French, who are you and what is your credibility?’ “
This is odd since the Oregonian hasn’t previously seen fit to question the credibility of anyone who opposes President Bush or supports John Kerry. In fact, all through the article they maintain that the burden of proof or disproof lies entirely on the Kerry critics. They see no reason to question the statements of the Kerry campaign or their supporters. They do not indicate the source of the tip, they are making the case all through this article that credibility is the key. What made them decide that the tip was credible? Is it just because it could be used against a Kerry opponent? They never explore that issue.
[Reporter Noelle Crombie’s] initial story, describing French’s involvement in the ad, led editors to assign Crombie to follow Jim Rassmann, the Florence man whose life Kerry had saved in Vietnam, on the campaign trail and to assign another reporter to write a profile of French.
The newspaper in early May profiled Rassmann, but it had not revisited his account of the rescue until last week, despite the conflicting accounts by other Swift boat veterans.
The Oregonian had been aware of Rassmann since May but made no attempt to check his credibility? Why not? Why were they so sure of his credibility right off? Did they talk to his friends, his neighbors, his schoolmates? Did they interview people he worked with in Los Angeles? He worked at the Sheriff’s Department, did he ever have any complaints filed against him? (I happen to believe he is credible, but that is no reason to exempt him from scrutiny) The Oregonian gives the same pass to any Kerry supporter or Bush critic. As I wrote a few days ago, the Oregonian had an article about veterans complaining about Church and the Swiftboat commercial. The reporter did not mention that the veteran he talked to was a Kerry supporter and had even met Kerry at the airport when he visited Portland. I e-mailed him and he said that he was on vacation that week and had not seen the story. That doesn’t say much for his journalistic curiosity or his research skills. (If research was in fact done)
This has not gone unnoticed. They do lay out in their article that they have received a lot of e-mail taking them to task for their treatment of Al French and the Swiftboat Vets. They manage to deflect criticism by quoting some journalistic ethics professors, but that does not answer the question of why they feel it is necessary for Kerry opponents to prove their every word but exempt Kerry supporters from that standard.
Unfortunately the Oregonian is the major newspaper in the state. They are part of the Portland elite that look down their noses at the rest of the state as bumpkins and hillbillies. They are not going to change their coverage, especially if it means crossing the Portland power brokers who dominate the Democratic party in Oregon.