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Monday, October 25, 2004

The land is abuzz with another example of John Kerry's tendency for exageration. This story was teased on a lot of the bigger blogs over the weekend as "a big story coming out on Monday." (That's an interesting issue in itself - blogs are now being used by the MSM to generate buzz for their stories. It may not be a new thing for the blogosphere generally, but it's certainly a new thing for some individual bloggers. I advise caution. You guys are gonna be gamed one of these days - found placing bets on insider info that turns out to be worthless.) This time it's over his statements that he met with the entire Security Council prior to the Iraq invasion (and thus knew there was more room for useful diplomacy at the UN said he).

Washington Times: Security Council members deny meeting Kerry:

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.

At the second presidential debate earlier this month, Mr. Kerry said he was more attuned to international concerns on Iraq than President Bush, citing his meeting with the entire Security Council.

"This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein."

But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.

The former ambassadors who said on the record they had never met Mr. Kerry included the representatives of Mexico, Colombia and Bulgaria. The ambassador of a fourth country gave a similar account on the condition that his country not be identified.

Ambassador Andres Franco, the permanent deputy representative from Colombia during its Security Council membership from 2001 to 2002, said, "I never heard of anything."[...]

Whithout a doubt, this should be a big story carried by more than just the Washington Times - yet another example of John Kerry's bizarre willingness to say anything for the sake of scoring a political point. Read and remember.

Update: Here's the comment I left on this over at Roger L. Simon's:

I agree with Yehudit that the story's a bit of a let-down. Would have been more effective if there were a couple of permanent members on the list.

Not saying it's not an important or real story - it is. Another day in the life of Senator Mitty, the man who will say anything for a quick score.

I think there's another angle of interest here, though. That is the fact that members of the blogosphere were tipped to it to start generating buzz even without seeing the content. The media is using the blogs to flog their stuff, thus truly cementing the bloggers' place in the landscape. That's good for blogs, but caution is in order - beware of being gamed by the spinners. Otherwise, wave all that hard-earned credibility good-bye.

It also starts to chip away at something I've always enjoyed the blogosphere for. To me the blogosphere operates as somewhat the way the stock market is supposed to operate, with everyone trading and functioning on equal information and some people simply doing better at that game. For instance, Charles Johnson thought to do something that it was possible for anyone to do - type the phony memo into Word. No one gave him anything under the table, he just thought to do it himself and thus he reaped the rewards of all that attention.

Now, more than ever, some bloggers are going to become more equal than others (no, I'm not jealous) by getting the inside scoop. Is that a bad thing? No, I guess not, BUT, like I said, proceed with caution, lest we lose what makes the blogs different and special - and among those is the ability to take publicly available resources to kill or counter spin.



"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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