IN WHOSE COMPANY?
So what is the mysterious "Riverfront Media" firm that the campaign of Sen. John Kerry claims produced its anti-President Bush TV ads?
In a surprising move -- at least for a media company -- a firm in Illinois, Riverfront Media, is denying that it had anything to do with the Kerry campaign's negative advertisements. On its website it posted this message:
"As far as we know, we are the only Riverfront Media in Illinois. We are going to try to get a retraction from his campaign since we have been getting phone calls and email pertaining to these ad's. Many people are associating us with the Democratic Party and it is hurting business. We work hard for all of our clients and artists and we do not need undeserving BAD publicity. We do not claim a political association with any party, and do not support (or even dislike) any candidate, but may have to seek legal action to get this MAJOR problem resolved."
People are combing through Kerry's financial reporting looking for interesting tidbits on how the campaign is spending its limited resources. Riverfront Media has been one such -- staggering -- expense, surpassing $6 million in total "media" and "advertisements" payments since last August 29. (Click here and here.) This from a campaign famous for being strapped.
Web bloggers have been posting the financial reports. Journalists such as Slate's Mickey Kaus have been challenging others to find such items as Bob Shrum's pay on the itemized expense list. No luck there, Mickey.
"It was a mistake. It was a different Riverfront Media in another state," says a Kerry campaign source. Which state? "I don't know."
While it's too early to be getting conspiratorial about the operations of the Kerry camp, lack of information about its media buys and producers is interesting. Could Kerry be employing as a media consultant someone the campaign would prefer not be made public?
In his continued attempts -- thus far barely successful -- to play up his connections to John F. Kennedy (the Kerry campaign has been releasing pictures of the candidate sailing on a yacht with the former president), John Kerry is now insisting that he be identified on first reference in press reports as Sen. John. F. Kerry.
The move is a similar one to Hillary Rodham's decision oh so long ago to tack on the more politically palatable "Clinton" to the end of her name. Much like Hillary, Kerry has never played up the middle initial until now.
"It's his middle initial, what's the big deal," says a Kerry volunteer. "When we deal with the press we use the initial. That's his name, use it."
THE SECRET SHARER
The final member of Sen. John Kerry's crew from Vietnam has been tracked down by Kerry's in-house biographer, Douglas Brinkley.
Brinkley claimed that while researching the book on Kerry's days in Vietnam he could not find Stephen Gardner anywhere, that none of Kerry's other boat mates knew where he was.
Now, Kerry and his chums, who have dubbed themselves the "Band of Brothers" in a shameful rip-off of Stephen Ambrose's tale of heroism in World War II, are probably wishing Gardner never reappeared.
In a Time magazine story, Brinkley claims that Gardner, who lives in South Carolina, has now come forward. And guess what? He's a Dubya-loving ditto-head to the nth degree. And he doesn't like his former commanding officer much.
In the Time piece, Gardner claims Kerry more often than not ran from fire fights. Most interesting, however, are two points that Brinkley and Kerry make in the piece clearly designed to discredit Gardner.
First, Brinkley claims that, "No two men remember combat exactly the same way so Kerry has been extremely lucky that 9 out of his 10 crewmen have almost identical stories about his valor ..."
Yes, extremely lucky. In a number of stories about Kerry's tour in Vietnam, it has been accurately reported that Kerry spent four months in combat but, after three Purple Hearts, was allowed to seek a transfer out of the combat zone. Kerry successfully received that transfer, and his comrades have said at various times that each was also transferred out as well at Kerry's behest. No one has doubted that each of the men who currently appear with Kerry owes the man. In the article, Gardner says that believes that Kerry's crew worked to get their stories straight, with Kerry reminding them of how various events unfolded.
Second, Kerry, in speaking of Gardner, tells Brinkley, "He deserves respect because he served our country well. I left the country thinking well of Gardner and even tried to find him several times."
This is surprising, given that Kerry apparently made no attempts to find his other shipmates, even though they have said they reached out to him, particularly after he was elected to the Senate. One Kerry crewmate claimed that he had written Kerry a number of times, and that Kerry never responded.
But let's take Kerry at his word. Why would he be so interested in tracking down Gardner, yet exhibit no interest in tracking down his other comrades? Perhaps Gardner's story has more to it than anyone is willing to admit.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING OVER
According to a Kerry campaign staffer, it was their opposition research staff that handed the Associated Press the story about White House sleepovers for Bush donors. Why so early a leak for a story that got such huge traction against Bill Clinton and even Al Gore?
"There was nothing there, when you look at it," says the Kerry staffer. "In fact, we were surprised that it got as much as it did."
There truly was nothing there. Of the nine so-called Bush donors who slept over in the White House or at Camp David, all nine had previous personal or business relationships with President Bush before he was elected. Several were business partners with him when he was the managing partner of the Texas Rangers.
AP, though, didn't let facts get in the way of what the wire service's editors wanted to achieve. The story never made mention of Bush's personal connections to the White House visitors, burying those ties in the mini bios of the donors.