The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

 Isabel Macdonald
Communications Director
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Brokaw Responds to FAIR


NBC anchor Tom Brokaw responded to FAIR's August 29
action alert, which criticized Brokaw's warning to Democrats that they
should be "careful" about how they criticize Republican presidential
John McCain.

As FAIR noted, Brokaw's argument was that McCain was a "Vietnam War
hero" and that Democrats "have to be careful about how you go after
John McCain because of that Vietnam experience."

Brokaw's response was as follows:

Thanks for the courtesy-but your action alert is provocatively misleading.

I did not advise anyone to lay off John McCain. I merely said it was a
tricky issue for Democrats-and cited Jim Webb's admonition as an

My comments came before Senator Clinton and President Clinton's speeches-and, in fact, they did finesse the issue.

It is disappointing to see you try to make a pinata out of me to
promote your website. Any fair reading of my remarks would support that

Brokaw is incorrect about the timing of his remarks about Bill
Clinton's speech, which indeed came after the former president's
address. As our alert noted, NBC's
Chris Matthews posed the question to Brokaw this way: "Tom, first, what
did you make of the acknowledgment of the service of John McCain in
very glowing terms?"

The point of FAIR's criticism, of course, is not to make a "pinata" out
of anyone. We believe the way the media cover elections has a profound
impact on both electoral results and the health of American democracy.
Political parties work hard to advance certain "storylines" during a
campaign; whether the media play along more or less determines whether
a given storyline takes hold.

The Republicans have been adept at challenging the national security
leadership-and often the patriotism-of their opponents, including
decorated Vietnam veterans like John Kerry and Max Cleland. In our
view, when Brokaw tells "anyone in the Democratic Party" that "it's a
very tricky case taking on John McCain" because "you have to be careful
about how you go after an American Vietnam War icon," it serves to
strengthen that Republican tactic and inhibit a fuller discussion of
these issues.

FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.