Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2004 / 20 Tishrei 5765


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Rather denies Kerry mysterious object's existence

Brokaw: Pocket Controversy ‘A Bunch of Hooey!’ | Did John Kerry "illegally" bring a "cheat sheet" to his debate with President George W. Bush? The question, first raised on right wing Internet web logs, or "blogs", has been pushed to the forefront of presidential politics by an unlikely source — CBS News.

While participating in a panel on the corrosive effect of the Internet on news gathering and reporting, CBS News Chief Anchor Dan Rather noted that, "Those right wing kooks are trying to out-McCarthy Old Joe. They're sitting in front of their laptops dressed in white sheets destroying a man's career. And they weren't nice to Senator Kerry, either."

Mr. Rather's references appear to be to the late United States Senator Joseph P. McCarthy (R-WI), who in the early 1950's ushered in a time of anti-Communist repression popularly known as the McCarthy Era, and to the anti-Black and anti-minority advocacy group the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan.

Both NBC's Tom Brokaw and ABC's Peter Jennings could be seen nodding in agreement.

But, when all is said and done, what did Mr. Kerry remove from his right breast pocket in "violation" of the "rules" agreed to by both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry in the weeks leading up to the debate?

While an exhaustive analysis conducted by the New York Post seems to point to the removal of a black and transparent plastic gel-ink disposable pen, all three network anchors suggested that Mr. Kerry had not in fact removed anything from his pocket.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Mr. Rather said in a pointed response, "we must have been watching different debates. You know, you can't skin a polecat with a transistor radio."

Mr. Jennings, a native Canadian, agreed with Mr. Rather but seemed to observers to be puzzled by Mr. Rather's witticism. Mr. Brokaw, who did not directly respond to the question, appeared to be briefly napping. In a statement issued by NBC News in the aftermath of the panel, Mr. Brokaw referred to the pocket controversy as, "A bunch of hooey."

Meanwhile, an Internet website loosely affiliated with both Coast to Coast radio host Art Bell and the Kabbala Center claimed that its analysis proved that the objects Mr. Kerry removed from his pocket were a red string and a small bottle of "blessed" or "holy" water.

Mr. Kerry's campaign vehemently denied the website's claims.

"No way, no how!" said a Kerry spokesman, pointing out that Mr. Kerry, a Catholic, had served in Viet Nam, received three Purple Hearts, and had "no need for red string or holy water."

Both Madonna and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach were unavailable for comment.

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© 2003, Shmarya Rosenberg