April 29, 2004

IT’S PROBABLY UNCOLLEGIAL OF ME to pick on Douglas Brinkley — I think that he and I have chapters in the same book coming out this summer — but his flacking for Kerry has gotten so bad that even lefty columnists are calling him on it:

These days Brinkley is acting a lot less like a historian and a lot more like a PR flack for John Kerry, the subject of Brinkley’s flattering bestseller “Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War.” Brinkley proclaims his independence from the Kerry campaign — “This is my book, not his,” he writes in “Tour” — but he’s become a major player in the Kerry agitprop machine.

On television, in magazines, and on Kerry’s website, Brinkley functions as a dependable surrogate for the candidate, quick to testify to Kerry’s unflinching qualities of heroism and leadership. . . .

It gets worse. After the Kerry campaign learned that the Globe had interviewed Gardner for its Kerry biography, Brinkley called Gardner. The presidential historian — Brinkley has written about Franklin Roosevelt and is a disciple of the late historian and biographer Stephen Ambrose — warned Gardner of a “firestorm” if the vet went public with his doubts about Kerry, and then hacked out an article attacking the former gunner’s mate on Time magazine’s website!

Hilariously, Kerry declined to talk to the Globe about Gardner’s criticisms, but graced Brinkley with his opinion — uncritically relayed by the historian — that Gardner’s stories were “made up.”

Who needs opposition research when Doug Brinkley is on the case?


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