Spinsanity busts journalists who call the Swift Boat Vets “surrogates” of the Bush campaign. They could have included Dan Gillmor in their post, as he has made the same baseless accusation.
While news outlets including the New York Times have documented various connections between Bush and the so-called 527 group, there’s no evidence that the President is behind the ads.
. . . .
More common than such outright conflation are accusations that the SBWFT are “surrogates” of the Bush campaign. The word implies evidence that the SBVFT are working on behalf of or as substitutes for the President, but pundits often arenít demonstrating that.
. . . .
Disturbingly, this spin mirrors the Kerry campaign’s line on the Swift Boat Vets. The Democratic presidential candidate has called the group a “front for the Bush campaign.” Other Democrats have directly referred to them as Bush “surrogates.”
Surely pundits and reporters should present some evidence before repeating unproven political claims as fact.
(All emphasis mine.)
The Spinsanity folks didn’t specifically call out Dan Gillmor. But they could have, because Gillmor has made that exact accusation without backing it up:
George W. Bush and his associates are doing it again. They’re offering “compassionate” rhetoric to appeal to swing voters.
But this time, they have a record to defend.
. . . .
They’ve launched the sleaziest kind of attacks on opponents, suggesting that people who question their policies are traitors. Through surrogates, they’ve attacked a Democratic candidate who, unlike Bush, served bravely in Vietnam, on that very service.
I suppose Gillmor could argue that Bush’s “associates” could be read to include Republicans with no official connection to the Bush Administration who are helping fund the Swift Boat Vets’ ads. But that would not be a very convincing defense. I don’t think that was truly the message Gillmor was trying to convey — or did convey.
I have too much respect for Gillmor’s work on citizen journalism issues to think he’s deliberately trying to distort the facts on anything. But I think he should retract the “surrogates” allegation, or offer us some better evidence than the silly “web of connections” nonsense that the New York Times has tried to sell to the country.
I don’t think the Spinsanity folks are infallible, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking they are. But they do a good job of presenting evenhanded criticism of spin on both sides, and I think they’re on the money here.