Solomon’s Stenography

March 20, 2004

John Solomon of the Associated Press wrote a piece Friday headlined, “Kerry’s 1994 Effort to Cut Defense Eyed,” examining an appropriations amendment Kerry sponsored in 1994. Recapping the sentiments expressed by Democratic senators at the time, Solomon reports, “The cuts would threaten national security. U.S. fighter pilots would be endangered. And the battle against terrorism would be hampered, opponents charged.”

“And that’s just what [Sen. John] Kerry’s fellow Democrats had to say.”

Solomon pegs his piece to Sen. John McCain’s defense of Kerry’s record yesterday, writing that “As Kerry, now a presidential candidate, assails President Bush’s stewardship of national security, his own voting record in the Senate is coming under increasing scrutiny. On Thursday, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona came to Kerry’s defense, saying the Massachusetts Democrat wasn’t weak on defense.”

But that’s it for current events. We never do find out who, exactly, is scrutinizing Kerry’s record, nor does Solomon mention anything further about McCain’s statements.

So what prompted the intrepid reporter to dig into Kerry’s record? Just for fun, take a look at the headline to this March 9, 2004 Republican National Committee research report: “Even Fellow Democrats Warned Kerry About His Dangerous Cuts” (Italics ours).

The “fellow democrats” phrase could just be a coincidence. But that seemed less likely after Campaign Desk noticed Solomon has quotes from two Democrats, one from Sen Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and the other from Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz), which are identical to those in the RNC research.

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While Solomon does add to the RNC’s work with a statement from Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., expressing support for Kerry, his report is a clear demonstration of the influence opposition research is already having on coverage of the campaign.

–Thomas Lang

Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.