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4/25/2004 05:57:00 PM | Timothy

Kerry's medals
If Drudge is to be believed, then I think we're about to find out how good at damage control the Kerry team really is.
In interview published Friday in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry claimed he "never ever implied" that he threw his own medals on the Hill in 1971 to appear as an antiwar hero -- but a new shock video shows John Kerry's saying he did! ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA is set to rock the political world Monday morning with an airing of Kerry's 1971 boast, sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.
UPDATE: Here is Drudge's posting of Kerry's Good Morning America Interview today. ABC news has this story. Josh Marshall has this on media slants:
ABC News is currently running a web headline which reads: "Medal Dispute, EXCLUSIVE: Did Kerry lie about Vietnam War medals?"
Here's a question. Can someone tell me the last time ABC used the "L" word about President Bush? Or is it always 'exaggeration' when it's President Bush? And yes, I noticed Chris Vlasto's name too.

Late Update: As of 2:54 PM, the headline now reads: "Medal Dispute, EXCLUSIVE: Why did Kerry change story about Vietnam medals?"
That, and why did ABC change its headline?
By the way, Marshall is referring to the headline on ABCnews.com's homepage. Marshall's reference to Chris Vlasto (one of the co-authors of the article who works at ABC news) was confusing to me; Evidently, he was a big Clinton-hater who tried to shape events somewhat during the Ken Starr investigations. (More here on producer Vlasto's apparent creative editing.)

Here's an excerpt from the ABCnews article itself, which on its face seems pretty damning to Kerry:
Calling it a "phony controversy" instigated by the Republican party, Kerry said on Good Morning America today that he has always accurately said what took place. "I threw my ribbons. I didn't have my medals. It is very simple." He also said he ? and the military ? didn't make a distinction between medals and ribbons. "We threw away the symbols of what our country gave us for what we had gone through," he said. And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."

But Kerry told a much different story on Viewpoints. Asked about the anti-war veterans who threw their medals away, Kerry said "they decided to give them back to their country." Kerry was asked if he gave back the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for combat duty as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam. "Well, and above that, [I] gave back the others," he said.

The statement directly contradicts Kerry's most recent claims on the disputed subject to the Los Angeles Times last Friday. "I never ever implied that I did it, " Kerry told the newspaper, responding to the question of whether he threw away his medals in protest.
Update Again from Drudge:
OLIPHANT IN COMING BOSTON GLOBE: 'I was 4 or 5 feet behind John Kerry. I watched Kerry reach with his right hand into the breast pocket of his fatigue shirt. The hand emerged with several of the ribbons... There couldn't have been all that many decorations in his hand -- six or seven -- because he made a closed fist around his collection... From what I could observe firsthand about Friday, April 23, 1971, Kerry did not make even the slightest effort to pretend that he was throwing all of his military decorations over that fence.... Kerry had arrived here with only the ribbons he wore on his shirt...

OLIPHANT: 'I have always found the political junk served up by Kerry's detractors to be undignified as well as largely inaccurate. I write now because the political junk is much higher profile now, though no less misleading -- and not, by the way, because in her fourth job in the public arena, my daughter just joined Kerry's staff. I just happened to be there that long-ago day. I saw what happened and heard what Kerry said and know what he meant. The truth happens to be with him...' Impacting Hard Late Monday...
Also, Drudge has a link to a "D-Bunker" on the Kerry website regarding the medals. It looks like this is not the first time Oliphant has talked about this:
2004: "Never Any Confusion" from Reporter Who Covered Kerry in 1971:
“Thomas Oliphant, who was reporting on the event the event that day for the Boston Globe, recalled that Kerry reached over the fence to place his own service ribbons as well as medals he had received from other veterans. ‘I never had any confusion about what he did,’ said Oliphant, now a Boston Globe columnist, ‘that he had kept his Silver Star, Purple Hearts and Bronze Star.’ ” [John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, pps 127-128; 2004]
Even those Oliphant saw Kerry throw his ribbons, and Oliphant knew Kerry kept his Silver Star, etc., Oliphant still wrote in 1971 that Kerry "threw his medals over the fence." So I suppose a newspaper person's contemporaneous use of the term in that way lends credence to the defense that ribbons were sometimes referred to as medals.



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