The Slanders of National Public Radio
Juan Williams, now tethered to the discreditable Fox Cable News as much as he is to the increasingly right-leaning National Public Radio, does it again on Morning Edition today. An audio link should be available later today.
Over the last two weeks Williams has spearheaded NPR's twice-daily repetition of the “swift boat” slanders of John Kerry’s war record. In this, he is abetted by other NPR stalwarts, most notably Mara Liasson, also of Fox News-NPR. With almost every one of her radio reports, Liasson ignores Kerry’s first Vietnam tour on the guided missile frigate U.S.S. Gridley. She invariably "reports," wrongly, that Kerry served only “four months in Vietnam” before moving on to trash his war record.
No doubt, these two Fox-y denizens of the right-wing press would claim to be merely providing "fair and balanced" news reports. But Josh Marshall has it exactly right today when he notes:
There is a great desire among journalists to appear even-handed in such cases and create equivalences where there simply are none. And this [attack on Kerry] is a great case of that.
Marshall links to a Thursday WaPo article by Michael Dobbs that further undermines the credibility of the anti-Kerry ads which NPR so dutifully features on a daily basis and even repeats in full on its web site. It seems swift boat critic Larry Thurlow’s own military records substantiate Kerry’s heroism. Although Thurlow has sworn under oath that Kerry was "not under fire" when he saved Lt. James Rassmann --
Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."
Marshall concludes, “on this front most of the media are content to act as indifferent bystanders to the offense.”
That’s much too mild. The media, NPR among them, are acting like co-conspirators in what Marshall characterizes as “the sort of character assassination... that the standard Washington types usually lament as a grievous wrong several years after it happens, but never at the time.”
It is true that public figures generally are fair game for just about any defamation. But Williams and Liasson might want to re-read the New York Times v. Sullivan cases and Sharon v. Time Warner. Reporters are not immune from liability when they republish lies out of malice or other improper personal motives.
Make no mistake. The right-wing corporate types who formerly broadcast U.S. propaganda to Europe have taken over National Public Radio. Earlier
this year investigative reporter Daniel Zwerdling was put out to pasture along with popular Morning Edition host Bob Edwards . The television side at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is under the same kind of attack.
Meanwhile, Fox News moles Juan Williams and Mara Liasson continue enthusiastically distorting and dissembling to help the Bush administration "drive an ideological stake in the heart of public broadcasting."
Both of them should be recast as "senior correspondents" and confined to the Fox TV sewage plant where they belong.