Time’s Know-Nothings

This week’s Time magazine includes a piece by Mark Thompson and James Carney billed as “Absence in Alabama: As Bush’s military service re-emerges as an issue, here is what we know — and don’t know.”

Browse through the piece and you will learn that what Time knows is the standard version of the Bush-National Guard story. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

But, direct your eyes to the concluding paragraphs you’ll see that Time also knows something about Sen. John Kerry; mainly that Kerry’s comment to Fox News earlier this month “seems to equate National Guard service with avoiding the draft.”

Thompson and Carney turn to Bush campaign spokeswoman Nicole Devenish for her take on this comparison. She tells them, “John Kerry’s statement was a huge insult to the 400,000 people who serve in the National Guard … Indeed, 48 of those killed in Iraq have been members of the National Guard.”

There you have it; Kerry’s comments dishonor the lives lost by 48 National Guardsmen who served in Iraq.

This is unless you examine what Kerry really told Fox News.

Sandwiched within the same paragraph in Time is an excerpt from Kerry’s remarks on Fox News Channel after the February 3 mini-Super Tuesday primaries. Sean Hannity asked Kerry his opinion of comments made by various Democrats concerning Bush’s National Guard Service. Kerry responded:

Well, I don’t know the facts on it. What I’ve always said is — and I defended Bill Clinton’s position, and I would defend the president’s choice with respect to going into the Guard. I’ve never made any judgments about any choice somebody made about avoiding the draft, about going to Canada, going to jail, being a conscientious objector, going into the National Guard. Those are choices people make.

But there is a question that’s been raised about whether — about what his service was. And I don’t know the answers to those questions.

Perhaps, Kerry could have been more articulate. But it’s irresponsible for Time to know, based on that quote, that Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, dishonored the memories of anyone — at least of all those serving in Iraq.


Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.