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August 25, 2004

'WERE YOU OR WERE YOU NOT IN CAMBODIA?" John Kerry didn't answer.

UPDATE: Yeah, this is damning for Kerry -- but it's also damning for the professional press corps that the first time he got asked the question to his face was on The Daily Show. Part of that, of course, is because Kerry has been avoiding the press since the issue came up:

Kerry appears to have grown more wary of reporters due to this issue. "He did not come to the back of the plane," Broder said about Tuesday's flight from Boston to New York. "He had been much more accessible." Glen Johnson of The Boston Globe, also in the press travel pool, concurred, saying "that limits the options of what we can write about."

James also noticed a tightening of restrictions on Kerry, adding "they want to be as careful as possible, not having unscripted moments so mistakes don't happen."

But I thought these guys were supposed to be able to get the story, not just take what was handed out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Nathan Lanier says it's worse in context than it was in the news reports:

What's even more damning about the question posed to Kerry on the daily show is the fact that it was asked in a jovial, clearly sarcastic manner as if to downplay it's significance. Stewart gave Kerry a free pass, and he tried to ameliorate the fact that Kerry is a proven liar. Kerry's throat must have dropped into his stomach when he heard that question; Stewart knew this, and he still laughed it off.

Of course, that just makes the press treatment worse. I wonder -- will they use the Daily Show appearance as an excuse to call this "old news?"

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More comments here, from someone who actually saw the broadcast. "It was like Rush Limbaugh interviewing John Ashcroft."

I wonder how the campaign press feels about being upstaged here?

And here's an interesting prediction on how the press will respond, from a commenter at The Belmont Club. "Given that the SwiftVets threaten not just John Kerry but the MSM itself, we must asssume that the MSM will do its best to crush the story. How will it do so? Probably with a 'denial of service' attack: that is, they'll flood the information channels with another story that will drown out the SwiftVets." I don't think it'll work, though. And even if it does, the campaign press corps will still be the losers.

MORE: Cambodia isn't mentioned, but Slate's Dana Stevens writes that Kerry tanked on The Daily Show:

Kerry's charisma was less than zero: It was negative. He was a charm vacuum, forced to actually borrow mojo from audience members. He was a dessicated husk, a tin man who really didn't have a heart. His lack of vibrancy, his utter dearth of sex appeal made Al Gore look like Charo. . . .

Watching Kerry strike out was especially heartbreaking given that Stewart was pitching not just softballs but marshmallows. Puffy interview marshmallows with rainbow sprinkles on them, and Kerry was letting them sail by as if he planned to get to first base on a walk. That may be how he hopes to win the presidency as well, but before he gets there, he'll have to jump through hoops a lot tougher than this exchange.

Ouch. But give Stewart credit -- at least he asked the questions, even if he wasn't serious about doing it.

STILL MORE: Ann Althouse has extended commentary on Kerry's appearance. And Wonkette has a transcript.

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