The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

The really disturbing thing about the Kerry intern story... the moron hacks.

I can't find a transcript online of the Kerry interview on Don Imus' show.

This seems to be how the exchange went [1]:

Imus: Let me ask you this. Is there anything, anything, that's going to come up? Now, for example. There's this Drudge Report about an intern, and I'm sure you've heard about it.

Kerry: Yeah.

Imus: I don't know that it's been reported anywhere, but people are talking about it.

Kerry: Well, there's nothing to report, so there's nothing to talk about. I'm not worried about it. No. The answer is no.

Imus: So I'm not going to have to jump off your bandwagon.

Kerry: No, sir. No sprained ankles for you.

Now, around eighteen hours ago, your humble blogger called that as a non-denial denial. He is not saying anything on the substantive issue: he's just saying that, whatever happened, there's nothing to talk about.

And that precise expression is used in a piece (dated February 17) in Insight.

Worryingly, a lot of journos took what Kerry said for precisely what it had been crafted not to say.

For instance, the Boston Globe calls what he told Imus unequivocal; the Richmond Times-Dispatch says
He categorically denied it.

The Portsmouth Herald says that Kerry denied the allegation.

The Chicago Tribune gives the quote without characterising it.

Now, I assume that the choice of words to Imus had been the subject of long deliberation between Kerry's top people; and that Kerry did not fluff his lines.

But, even if he did, what he said was not a denial. And only someone who wasn't reading carefully would have failed to spot this.

Were the hacks being deliberately obtuse?

There's a postscript: Kerry didn't confine his comments to his appearance on Imus [2]:
Kerry was asked by reporters in Madison if he could issue a clear denial of the rumor.

He replied: "I just deny it categorically. It's rumor. It's untrue, period."

Why didn't he say that on Imus? Presumably, even if the Madison briefing (or whatever it was) wasn't recorded for broadcast, some of the hacks have got his remarks on tape (audio or video).

Why the difference in formulation between the two occasions?

It seems that the Kerry/Polier business has done for American journalism almost what Lord Hutton did for BBC news output.

And we have eight months of this circus to look forward to. Oh, joy...

  1. Based on this and this

  2. There's no direct suggestion anywhere that this was a set-up between Imus and the Kerry camp: but Imus is, apparently, genuinely a Kerry supporter. So - go figure...


The 'great' Andrew Sullivan also fails to pay attention:
On Friday morning, on the Imus radio show, Kerry knocked the story down completely

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