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Steve Young

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Incomplete Sentences: Talk Radio's Greatest Weapon
by Steve Young

August 29, 2004 -- HOLLYWOOD (

"It's 230 Swift Boat Veterans' word against the word of John Kerry..."
-- Every Talk Show Host on the AM Dial, 2004

"... the word of the men who served on his boat and the word of the man he saved."
-- The Rest of The Story (though not Paul Harvey's)

Forget campaign finance. Forget 527s. There ought to be a law against editing out the parts of sentences, paragraphs and statements which make a so-called truth a complete fabrication.

Someone (me) said, "50% of the truth is no truth at all." When you cut off the facts that do not further your argument or may even damage it, you dishonor your listeners.

"Kerry said that we had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan. We can never forgive him for what he said."
Any Number of Swift Boat Veterans on Any Number of Radio Talk Shows, 2004

"It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit [in a meeting with 150 Vietnam veterans], the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. "
-- John Kerry, 1971

Amazing that the Lords of Loud and the Swift Boat authors conveniently leave out that Kerry was telling the Senate Committee about the experiences of 150 particular veterans who admitted as much. And I know of none of those people who have asked Kerry to apologize. My guess is that wouldn't and the complete sentences wouldn't draw as much ire power for the fans of talk.

"One thing we do know is John Kerry admitted on The Dick Cavett Show that, quote, 'I committed atrocities.'"
-- Almost Every Day on Sean Hannity, 2004

"I personally didn't see personal atrocities in the sense that I saw somebody cut a head off or something like that. However, I did take part in free fire zones. I did take part in harassment interdiction fire. I did take part in search and destroy missions, in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground."
-- John Kerry on Dick Cavett Show, 1971

Okay. Forget incomplete sentences. Now they're just making it up.

Does it matter that Kerry is getting creamed with inaccuracies? Forget about cutting off heads. These guys are cutting off the truth at the neck.

Do talk show listeners care that the "information" they're receiving is out-and-out misinformation? Or do they think "fair and balanced" means, "Here's the fair, and now to balance it off, let's give you what isn't fair"?

Most important, is this just politics as usual? Or is it just a return to old time politics... of old time countries... that used disinformation to perpetuate hate against anyone who was not like them... and years later had a wall... that Reagan asked to be torn down?

Steve Young, political editor of National Lampoon and co-creator of National Lampoon's, is also the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" and "Winchell Mink...The Misadventure Begins" (Harper Collins), and writes about politics for and

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