Thursday, February 24, 2005

Talon News: Anatomy of a Kerry Smear Part 1

from grannyhelen - NOTE: I'm a little embed-link challenged in blogger...especially with extensive links like these. To view links please visit the external link which leads to my crosspost at dKos.

Okay, I'll admit it: I was thinking of titling this diary series, "Talon News, Blow By Blow", but I thought I'd leave the low, low, low-brow humor out of the least.

What's up with Jeff Gannon/James Guckert's former employer, Talon News? Why did they scrub almost ALL of their previous "news articles", including those not written by Gannon? Were they (and are they still) a "front" organization for the Bush administration and/or the Bush/Cheney04 campaign? Or are they - as a fellow Kossak put it to me, "the Trekkies of the Republican Party"?

After reviewing what is literally a virtual cornucopia of articles by different Talon News authors, both through viewing the cache of different articles from Talon's website and through a bit of old-fashioned googling of reprints of article excerpts from all over the radical right-wing blogosphere, I feel my hypothesis that Talon was a vehicle for the Bush/Cheney 04 campaign to conduct a whisper campaign against John Kerry, while birthing their own press releases as "news articles", is strengthened. But instead of cherry-picking my research to prove my point, I feel strongly that it should be presented to all and sundry who choose to review it, so that Talon's "news coverage" can be analyzed.

So, pull up a big bowl of buttered popcorn, pop open a can of diet soda and get ready to experience a slice of life from the radical right-wing in this country. Then, after reading the same articles I've reviewed this week, chime in and let me know what you think Talon's deal is.

Part 1 of this diary series covers Talon News articles from June 16, 2003 through April 9, 2004. For some articles I've excerpted parts that I feel are either very important or very egregious; all articles have links back to the original websites where I discovered them. And sometimes I might slip a comment or two to introduce the article if the mood hits.

Let's get down and fun-kay!

June 16, 2003
Senate Democrats Richer Than GOP Counterparts By Jeff Gannon

Note: this is the first - and only - Talon News "article" I've run across authored by Charles Mahaleris.

November 12, 2003
Gephardt: Bush Allied with Homophobic Bigotry By Charles Mahaleris

This is not the first time during this campaign cycle when presidential contenders spoke out in favor of allowing homosexuals to marry.

In August, Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) blasted Pope John Paul II, telling the pontiff to keep his theology out of American politics when it comes to homosexual rights.

Kerry, responding to urgings from the Vatican that Catholic politicians stand firm against gay marriages, said, "I believe in the church, and I care about it enormously. But I think that it's important to not have the church instructing politicians. That is an inappropriate crossing of the line in America."

Ah, you gotta love G/G. Not only does he create his own news, he uses Hannity to promote it.

February 10, 2004
Kerry's Anti-War Record Discussed at White House Briefing by Jeff Gannon:

This was the exchange at today's White House press briefing, much of which focused on George W. Bush's service records with the National Guard.

JEFF GANNON (Talon News): Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard?

Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam?

And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?

What was he doing after he was honorably discharged?

MR. McCLELLAN: We've already commented on some of his views relating back to that period the other day. And, obviously, this was a time period also when he was going to get his MBA at Harvard. But the President was certainly proud to serve in the National Guard.

TERRY MORAN (ABC NEWS): And would the White House consider those actions by Senator Kerry, that Jeff mentions fair game in the political season?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I think -- I know that that's a way to try to draw us into a Democratic primary that is ongoing.

And that same day...

Jeff Gannon goes on Sean Hannity (source KSFO 560 San Francisco):

Sean spends a moment with Jeff Gannon, Washington Bureau Chief for Talon Jeff talks about his daily meetings with White House Press Secretary Scott McCellan.

February 13, 2004
Alleged Kerry Affair with Intern Draws Media Attention By Jimmy Moore (coverage of Drudge report of "last Thursday")

Yet, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday and will officially endorse Kerry for the Democrat nomination today, told a group of reporters earlier this week, "Kerry will implode over an intern issue."

"Three reporters in attendance confirm Clark made the startling comments," Drudge contends.

Actually, reports Clark reluctantly confirmed he made the statement on Thursday.

These reporters who heard Clark make the statements are amazed the retired Army general would endorse Kerry.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who last week said he would drop out of the race if he did not win the Wisconsin primary on February 17, apparently changed his mind because of these looming charges against Kerry, campaign officials told Drudge.

But Dean campaign officials said this is "absolutely false" and "didn't have anything to do with our decision" to remain in the race.

"I actually think it's too bad this is starting," an anonymous Dean campaign aide told "It has no relevance to the campaign."

Nevertheless, in the past few days, the criticism of Kerry has become more intense by the Dean campaign, including Dean describing Kerry as a part of "the corrupt political culture in Washington."

Hmm...creating our own news cycle, aren't we?

February 17, 2004
Fonda Defends Kerry's Anti-War Past by Jeff Gannon

One day after the raucous White House press briefing during which her name was mentioned, the actress who became known as "Hanoi Jane" emerged to defend Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). The briefing centered on questions about President Bush's service record with the Air National Guard, but Talon News raised the issue of John Kerry's anti-war activism and his involvement with Fonda.

Likely spurred on in part by the question at the briefing that was broadcast live on cable news networks as well as a photograph circulated widely on the Internet showing her and Kerry at Vietnam antiwar rally, Fonda appeared on CNN on Wednesday. In an interview ostensibly about her role in "The Vagina Monologues," Fonda lashed out at those who have dredged up events of over thirty years ago.

Fonda said, "Any attempts to link Kerry to me and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time."

Fonda confirmed they both spoke at the event, but adds, "I don't even think we shook hands."

A spokeswoman for John Kerry said, "John Kerry and Jane Fonda were just acquaintances."...

...Kerry's association with Fonda evokes the same kind of reaction. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), a navy pilot shot down in Vietnam in 1972 said it was "a slap in the face."

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict said of Kerry's antiwar past, "I think it symbolizes how two-faced he is, talking about his war reputation, which is questionable on the one hand, and then coming out against our veterans who were fighting over there on the other."

And on the same day...

Kerry's Alleged Intern Identified, Taped Interview With Major Television Network By Jimmy Moore

Thus far, neither of them have publicly commented on the alleged affair that was revealed by Internet news web site The Drudge Report on Thursday. As reported by Talon News on Friday, a source at one of the major television networks said they are specifically forbidden to talk about this story on the air until one of the other major television networks reports on it first.

This is the first of a series of puff pieces - or in one instance just a re-write of a BC04 campaign press release - on the Bush campaign.

February 23, 2004
Bush Campaign Says Kerry's Voting Record Is Fair Game By Jimmy Moore

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie recently warned Republican supporters of vicious attacks by the Democrat Party against President Bush.

"We highlight policies and note Senator John Kerry's long record," Gillespie wrote in an e-mail. "[Democrats], in turn, accuse the president of desertion -- a military crime punishable by death -- as the Clark campaign did; or accuse the president of being AWOL, a felony punishable by imprisonment, as DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe has done."

Gillespie said more than $40 million dollars have been spent on campaign ads, including $7 million from third party organizations such as, attacking Bush in the past 10 months.

"Democrats have attacked the President and his policies using some of the most vitriolic rhetoric in the history of presidential politics," Gillespie charged in the e-mail.

The RNC chairman said he anticipates the Democratic Party to "run the dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics."

"This is because they don't want a debate on the issues, and they don't want to run on Sen. Kerry's record," Gillespie wrote in the e-mail. "I guess I can't blame them for that. We as a party cannot sink to their level. We must stick to the truth in this race."

March 2, 2004
Kerry Advisor Leads Outsourcing Giant By Jeff Gannon

March 5, 2004
Bush Campaign Ads Focus on Leadership By Jimmy Moore (note: cache may no longer be valid. I've seen this article in a few places, so I think if you google the article and the author name you'll find a reprint)

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The first in a series of positive television campaign ads for the 2004 Bush reelection campaign released on Thursday were criticized by the Kerry campaign for attacking him and using the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 for political purposes.

The $5 million advertising blitz in 17 key states focuses on President George W. Bush's ability to lead during difficult times, including his fight against terrorism, leading the country through a recession, and his plan to create jobs.

The slogan "Steady Leadership in Times of Change" rings throughout all three of the campaign ads currently running...

March 15, 2004
Bush Ads Claim Kerry Would Sharply Raise Taxes, Be Soft on Terror By Jimmy Moore:

As previously reported by Talon News, Kerry decided to forgo federal matching funds in November while competing with Dean for the Democratic nomination and made a personal loan to his presidential campaign of $6 million secured through a mortgage on his share of the family's home in Boston.

After last week's off-mic comment describing Republicans as "the most crooked ... lying group I have ever seen," it appears Kerry hopes to compete with Bush using continuous negative rhetoric rather than attempting to match the president dollar-for-dollar in television campaign ads.

Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot described Kerry's comments as "unbecoming of a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America" and had asked the presumed Democratic nominee "to apologize to the American people for this negative attack."

However, Kerry has refused to apologize for his vicious comments.

This one comes to us courtesy of a cache on Rush Limbaugh's website. Read and capture now before it goes away! My favorite part of this "article" is the absolute one-sidedness of it, including using only one source to support the headline.

March 23, 2004

An independent investment group study released on Monday finds that likely Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry has had an abominable voting record on investor-related issues throughout his nearly two decades in the United States Senate.

The American Shareholders Association (ASA) notes in their study that two out of three voters in the upcoming 2004 presidential election will be investors. This represents the largest voting bloc in America. As a result, ASA wanted to examine the vital issues related to investing by the Democratic presidential nominee.

Clifton explained. "Kerry's erroneous and exaggerated rhetoric was more of a threat to investor confidence than the recent market timing issues and he continues to talk down the economy because he is worried that an expanding economy hurts his chances to become President."...

...Clifton said Kerry is simply out of touch with real Americans who invest in stocks and mutual funds. "Based on his voting record, it appears that Kerry believes the only people who own shares of stock are families named Heinz and Kennedy," Clifton joked referring to Kerry's wife, Teresa, and his fellow Democratic Massachusetts colleague, Sen. Ted Kennedy. "That may have been true while Kerry was raising the capital gains tax as part of the Dukakis Administration, but it sure is not true today, with 56 percent of families' financial assets held in stocks and mutual funds."

Ah, yes...this is the re-write of a BC04 press release. Why bother to do a mass-email campaign when you can just have a "news organization" write an "article" to inform your base about your campaign home party?

April 9, 2004
Bush Campaign Throwing 'Party for the President' By Jimmy Moore

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The Bush campaign is organizing a "National Party for the President Day" on Thursday, April 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST to allow supporters to gather together in unity behind President George W. Bush.

"Across the country, supporters of President Bush will gather in homes, restaurants and community centers to stand up for our President," Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman wrote in an e-mail to Bush supporters recently.

The free events are scheduled to take place in cities across the country, including in personal homes and at local restaurants.

The Bush campaign has even set up a special surprise for supporters who are able to get 5 or more people to attend their party.

Mehlman said their party "will include a conference call with a senior [Bush] campaign leader" at 8:30 p.m. EST.

He added, "This special guest will answer questions and deliver a political briefing on the progress of the campaign."

Describing the purpose of the "National Party for the President Day," Mehlman explained it "is a simple, volunteer event that brings together local friends and neighbors who support the President."

People who decide to host one of these parties will receive a package of materials from the Bush campaign, including an exclusive video about the campaign, bumper stickers, miscellaneous campaign materials and a signed letter from Bush.

"These fun, informal events will help grow the President's strong base of support in local communities throughout the country and bring the President one step closer to victory in November," Mehlman concluded.

He continued, "We have a hard fight in the days ahead and the President needs your help."

Even Vice President Dick Cheney is encouraging people to join him in the "National Party for the President Day" to cheer on the president to victory in November.

"On that day, I will be joining thousands of parties across the country on a live conference call to talk about the clear choice voters face this November and the importance of the grassroots effort that will lead us to victory," Cheney revealed. "The President and I are counting on grassroots activists, like you, to act on the commitment we all share."

Cheney said he will try to call as many of the parties as possible on April 29.

The goal of the Bush campaign is to have 2004 parties commemorating President Bush on April 29. At press time, there were 2,046 parties planned for that day and nearly 4,000 overall.

Part 2 coming soon!

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