Thursday, October 14, 2004

FCC won't prevent airing of anti-Kerry film, chairman says

Well, I could have told you that.

Look, attacking Sinclair is great fun, but it's time to fact-check this movie's ass. In The New York Observer, Robert Sam Anson (who's been there) makes a start, but I wish he got down to cases and did a serious, detailed debunking:

Think Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, made by the 16th assistant director....

It's distorted and manipulative, and a lot of other adjectives, including not remotely close to the truth, [the testimony] not the way John Kerry spoke and meant it. And fairness? Forget about it. There’s none -- and God knows how many P.O.W.'s were sorted through to produce the desired effect, or how many contrary opinions were left on the cutting room floor.

Stolen Honor is propaganda at its worst -- just as surely designed. And a further sign, as if more were needed, of the lengths the right will go to, democracy be damned.

But the age-old formula works: The more grotesque the lie, the harder to combat.

Anson's real work of debunking this film, or at least part of it, is here, in a column he wrote a month ago that's given over almost entirely to veterans' testimony about Vietnam atrocities -- testimony that backs up what Kerry said in 1971:

...As we approached the vill[age], everything was like burnt down. There was a group of people on this one end of the vill, about 10 women and kids. There weren't any men. I was about fourth back in line, behind the radio operator. Nobody said anything, but all of a sudden guys started shooting. They were shooting women and kids. I couldn't believe it. These guys did this so systematically, like it was something done so many times before, it was easy. It didn't appear to bother any of them. It was just cut-and-dried, like it was understood that this was going to happen.

After that, we moved down this S-shaped trail into the vill -- and there were 10 more people there. I'll never understand why they didn't take off after they saw the first 10 people killed. But they were standing there quietly. My squad leader looked at me and said, "This is a good time for you to try out your canister rounds." It was like he was saying, "If you don't, you are not one of us. And if you are not one of us, you are one of them." I was actually scared for my life.

Well, the people were standing about 20 meters away. I pointed my canister round at them, [but] just before I pulled the trigger, I deflected the barrel toward the ground. I shot and looked away. I looked back, and there was [a cloud of] dust, but everybody was still standing. As soon as I did this, the rest of the squad opened up and killed all these people, too. At that point, I isolated myself from the rest of the platoon. Stayed by this bamboo stand, shaking like I was in shock. [While I was there], they got another bunch of people and killed them. In all, it was about 30 people killed in this vill. There weren't any men there at all. Women and children only....

There's also this Village Voice article by Nicholas Turse, which is also largely given over to testimony from veterans -- in this case, veterans who confirm the specific atrocities Kerry cited (and blamed not on the men but on those in charge).

This is a start. But it's not enough.

I hope the hell the Kerry campaign has figured out a way to preemptively blunt the impact of this film, because it has the potential to change the outcome of this election.

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