Wednesday, May 05, 2004


CJR's Campaign Desk points out a pull quote in the Wall Street Journal that is neither a quote nor is it pulled from the story.

The article in question? A commentary written by John O'Neill, who served in Vietnam. He succeeded John Kerry as Swift boat commander of PCF-94. In the '70s, he debated Kerry's assertion that American troops were committing war crimes in Vietnam daily. He does so again in this piece, calling the candidate a liar and saying "John Kerry is simply not fit to be America's commander in chief."

Campaign Desk says that in the print edition, this pull quote appeared:
'I was on Mr. Kerry's boat in Vietnam. He doesn't deserve to be commander in chief.'
But those words don't appear in the article.

In the online version, the passage is used as the deck (or summary head, or sumhed, the smaller words below the headline) with no quotes. That's better. But if I slotted that headline, I wouldn't let the first sentence fly. It's deliberately misleading, coaxing readers to the assumption that they served together. But O'Neill was on the boat after Kerry, not with him. I would say that when Kerry leaves, the boat is no longer his.

Pretending otherwise is lying.


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