Stinking Gopper Dirty Tricks and Lies Machine Goes After Kerry with Open Throttle No Holds Barred Scum Tactics
...Partisan TV pundits like Sean Hannity quickly echoed these charges: "He's voting against every major weapons system we now use in our military," Hannity told his Fox News audience (3/1/04). Hannity's participation in the RNC's attack was perhaps to be expected, but he was not the only media figure to simply pass on the Republican allegations without examination. CNN anchor Judy Woodruff (2/25/04) framed the issue this way in an interview with Rep. Norm Dicks (D.-Wash.): "The Republicans list something like 13 different weapons systems that they say the record shows Senator Kerry voted against. The Patriot missile, the B-1 bomber, the Trident missile and on and on and on."
Embarrassingly, Dicks had to explain to Woodruff that most of the weapons "votes" weren't individual votes at all, but a single vote on the Pentagon's 1991 appropriations bill. Woodruff responded with surprise to this information: "Are you saying that all these weapons systems were part of one defense appropriations bill in 1991?"
But Woodruff wasn't alone. Appearing on CNN (2/3/04), Bush-Cheney campaign strategist Ralph Reed explained to anchor Wolf Blitzer that Kerry's record was one of "voting to dismantle 27 weapons systems, including the MX missile, the Pershing missile, the B-1, the B-2 stealth bomber, the F-16 fighter jet, the F-15 fighter jet, cutting another 18 programs, slashing intelligence spend by $2.85 billion, and voting to freeze defense spending for seven years." Blitzer responded by pointing out to guest Ann Lewis of the Democratic National Committee, "I think it's fair to say, Ann, that there's been some opposition research done."
For many reporters, the charges against Kerry's record were recorded as just part of the back-and-forth of a campaign: Fox News Channel's Carl Cameron (2/27/04) explained: "With the GOP attacking John Kerry's votes to cut defense over the years, the Democratic front-runner, once again, counter-attacked what he calls the president's 'mishandling' of the war on terror."
Associated Press reporter Nedra Pickler (2/27/04) noted that "the Bush campaign has criticized Kerry in recent days for voting against some increases in defense spending and military weapons programs during his 19-year congressional career. Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot said Kerry's policies would weaken the country's ability to win the war on terror."
NBC anchor Tom Brokaw (3/2/04, MSNBC) also seemed to accept the charges at face value, noticing that "the vice president just today was talking about his votes against the CIA budget, for example, intelligence budgets and also weapons systems. Isn't he [Kerry] going to be very vulnerable come the fall when national security is such a big issue in this country?
One of the few reporters to take a serious look at the RNC's list-- on which 10 of the 13 items refer to the single 1991 vote-- was Slate's Fred Kaplan (2/25/04). Kaplan noted that 16 senators, including five Republicans, voted against the bill. Kaplan concluded that the claim against Kerry "reeks of rank dishonesty."