Kerry, Dean and the Media

lacocquj@carleton.edu

The hidden truth behind Kerry, Dean, and the media’s construction of “electibility.” By Jonathan Lacocque and Jeremy Lambshead

Perhaps never before have primary and caucus voters been so united in their desire to unseat the president as they are today. However, many of these voters are so consumed by the media’s enthusiasm over John Kerry’s “electibility” that they have given little serious consideration as to whether Kerry is actually the best candidate to beat George W. Bush. The generally unrevealed information presented in this article suggests that Kerry’s “electibiity” is likely to crumble when the Bush campaign discloses Kerry’s shady political history to the American public.
Many years after leading Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) to heave their war medals over the White House fence in protest, Kerry’s medals were found on his office wall in Washington, D.C., forcing him to acknowledge that he had thrown another sailor’s medals and had kept his own (1). Kerry has applied this deceptive approach to several political issues: Kerry’s campaign condemns Bush’s war on Iraq although he voted in favor of it in 2002, he publicly denounces the PATRIOT ACT and No Child Left Behind even though as a Senator he voted for both, he now supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage despite voting against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and he currently supports an increase in funds to farms but voted to cut agricultural subsidies (2).
Perhaps his most shameless hypocrisy is his campaign’s indictment of ‘special interests’ even though, according to The Washington Post, Kerry “has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years.” Kerry has accepted $640,000 from telecommunications and financial companies (3) and has received cash endorsements from the News Corporation – which owns FoxNews, 25 magazines (e.g. TV Guide and Weekly Standard) and 132 newspapers (e.g. the New York Post and the London Times). Kerry has also been endorsed by Viacom (who owns CBS news), Time Warner/AOL (who owns CNN and CNN headline news), Walt Disney Co. (who owns ABC news) and Sony, which has pledged to raise 100,000 for his campaign (4).
In fact, Kerry currently has 32 lobbyists raising more than $100,000 a piece for his campaign (5). These 32 lobbyists include John Merrigan, who has lobbied for the American Insurance Association, the Health Care Leadership Council and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, and Manuel Ortiz, who lobbies for the American Hospital Association (6). In addition, one day after meeting with Predictive Networks’ CEO Devin Hosea, Kerry introduced a bill that enabled companies like Predictive Networks to monitor what consumers are viewing. AOL, Predictive Networks and the Walt Disney Co. supported his bill (7). Finally, according to Sen. Kerry’s personal financial disclosure forms for 2003, he has between $1mil and $5mil invested in WalMart Stock, over $1mil in Gannett Newspapers, over $1mil in Pfizer (pharmaceutical company), and roughly $50,000 in Exxon Mobil to list a few (8).
This evident tendency to speak one way and act in the opposite way confronts Kerry advocates with the question: “which Kerry are you voting for?” The soldier or the pacifist? The politician who accepts special interest and lobbying endorsements, or the righteous crusader who condemns such politicians? The Sen. Kerry who passed Bush’s acts or the one who rails on them? If Kerry escapes the democratic primaries with these blatant inconsistencies still hidden in his pocket (and the pockets of his special interests and media backing), we can be certain that Bush and his $200 million re-election campaign will thoroughly expose and chastise Kerry’s dishonesty. When this happens, Kerry will have no leverage against Bush, having voted with him on the above issues.
Bush, however, may be favored over Kerry due to his greater consistency between intent and action.
In contrast to Kerry, Howard Dean will be far more able to defend himself against Bush. Dean has demonstrated impeccable consistency as Governor of Vermont for 6 terms. Dean has advocated the Improvement of education, jobs, healthcare, and the environment and has delivered consistently on every issue. Dean provided 99% of children and 96% of adults with health care, expanded prescription drug coverage for seniors, and brought childhood immunization up to 97%. Dean’s education policies lowered child abuse rates, raised graduation rates, and lowered teen pregnancy by 49%. Dean balanced eleven budgets in a row, turning a roughly $70 million deficit into a surplus, he cut unemployment in half and raised the minimum wage twice, giving Vermonters more jobs and earnings. Environmentally, Dean has protected more than 470,000 acres of wild land, lowered mercury pollution, lowered power plant pollution, opened bikeways, and closed most of Vermont’s leaking landfills. (9) While Dean has progressed on all of these fronts, Bush has done next to nothing, in some cases reversing progress made in previous presidencies (ie, environment, jobs, healthcare, etc).
While Dean has the upper hand on these key issues, Bush has delivered on issues of importance to many of his voters, such as terrorism, tax cuts, and religious programs. Therefore, a Dean/Bush face-off will allow voters to choose based on the candidates’ political history. This will avoid the smear campaigns, groundless rhetoric, and exposure of candidate inconsistency likely to characterize a Kerry/Bush debate. In comparison to Kerry, Dean shows more consistency, can offer more political results, and defend himself better against Bush.
If most voters are voting to get Bush out of office, which we believe they are, and Dean is capable of presenting strong opposition to Bush, why is Kerry in first place and Dean in second? (10) The media plays a surprisingly large role in this matter. For example, when Gov. Dean appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball on December 1, 2003, the polls had declared him the clear frontrunner in the primaries. In response to Dean’s statement that “11 companies in this country control 90% of what ordinary people are able to read and watch on their television,” Hardball host Chris Matthews asked if he would break up “large media enterprises” like MSNBC. Dean replied, “yes. I would say that there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country.”(11) Consequently, all major U.S. television networks were reporting as fact that Dean was unelectable by mid-December. By the end of the month, all major newspapers in the country similarly claimed that Dean could not win the presidency.(12) In fact, independent surveys revealed that he had received the most negative coverage of any candidate except Dennis Kucinich (the only other contender who strongly favors mandatory media divestment) (12).
While the media has molded Dean into an unelectable, “emotionally unstable” candidate, it has crafted Sen. Kerry into the indisputable paragon of electability. Even when Dean had more delegates, for the first few primaries, the media unanimously portrayed Kerry as the uncontested frontrunner. (10) This is no surprise given Kerry’s acceptance of cash endorsements from the owners of FoxNews, CNN, CBS, ABC, 25 major magazines and 132 major newspapers. (4)
In conclusion, the media has exaggerated Kerry’s electability and concealed his hypocrisy, while downplaying Dean’s electability and disregarding his initial popularity and continued integrity. Contrary to the impression given by the media, this race is hardly over, and the winner is far from certain. Kerry is in first place with 540 delegates, and Dean in second with 182, but 2,161 delegates are needed to win. (10) Given the information presented in this article, we strongly urge you to reconsider Howard Dean as a viable and formidable opponent to George W. Bush, more so than any other candidate, including Kerry.

(1) http://w
ww.fair.org/activism/media-business.html
(1)
(2 and 3) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64727-2004Jan30.html
(4) http://media.guardian.co.uk/city/story/0,7497,1144464,00.html
(5) http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docid=134
(6 and 7) http://abcnews.go.com/sections/Politics/WorldNewsTonight/kerry_fundraising_040209-1.html
(8) The Boston Globe: http://216.239.39.104/search?q=cache:SNXYhOvzhU4J:www.boston.com/news/politics/president/kerry/articles/2003/12/19/kerry_mortgage_to_help_fund_race/+senator+kerry+personal+worth&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
(9) http://www.deanforamerica.com
(9) an e-mail sent out by Howard Dean on 2/12/04
(10) http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/primaries/pages/scorecard/index.html
(11 and 12) http://www.fair.org/media-beat/031205.html
(12) http://makethemaccountable.com/podvin/media/040201_TheScream.htm
(12) http://www.blackcommentator.com/75/75_cover_dean_media.html

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