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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Boston Globe > Veteran claims misquote on Kerry; Globe stands by its story

By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff | August 7, 2004
WASHINGTON -- A report that one of a group of veterans opposing Senator John F. Kerry's bid for the presidency had said he made a mistake signing an affidavit questioning Kerry's medals rocketed around the airwaves yesterday, sparking a backlash on conservative radio programs and the Drudge Report website.
The programs asserted that retired Lieutenant Commander George Elliott had been misquoted in yesterday's Boston Globe when he said he had made a "terrible mistake" in signing an affidavit suggesting Kerry did not deserve to be awarded the Silver Star. Kerry was awarded the medal for killing a Viet Cong soldier.
The Globe quoted Elliott, who was Kerry's commanding officer during the war, as saying he was under "time pressure" when he signed the document and still believes Kerry deserved the Silver Star for his service. The affidavit was released ahead of the publication of a new book that questions whether Kerry should have been given some of his combat medals.
Elliott released another affidavit yesterday backing away from his comments this week to the Globe, saying the reporter, Michael Kranish, misquoted him.
Globe Editor Martin Baron released a statement saying "the Globe stands by the article. The quotes attributed to Mr. Elliott were on the record and absolutely accurate."
In 1996, when Kerry was running for Senate reelection and faced questions about the circumstances in which he shot the Viet Cong fighter, Elliott came to Boston and defended Kerry, saying he deserved the Silver Star.
In yesterday's new affidavit, Elliott said, "had I known the facts I would not have recommended Kerry for the Silver Star simply for pursuing and dispatching a single wounded Viet Cong." He added, "I do not claim to have any personal knowledge as to how Kerry shot the wounded, fleeing Viet Cong."
At the same time, Drudge also erroneously reported that Kranish, a 20-year Globe veteran, had written the introduction to a Kerry-authorized campaign book, "Our Plan for America: Stronger at Home, Respected in the World."
In fact, Baron said, Kranish had no connection to the Kerry campaign book and did not write its introduction.
Baron noted that earlier this summer Kranish worked with PublicAffairs -- the publisher of the Boston Globe biography of Kerry, "John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best" -- to write a short introduction to a second project: an independent, unauthorized review of publicly available documents dealing with the platform and policy statements of Kerry and Edwards. That project was in no way connected with the Kerry-Edwards campaign, Baron said.
"When PublicAffairs subsequently struck an agreement with the Kerry campaign to do an official campaign book, Kranish's relationship with the project immediately ended," Baron said.
Peter Osnos, publisher of PublicAffairs, said both Drudge and Amazon, the online bookseller peddling the upcoming Kerry-Edwards book, had made a mistake in suggesting Kranish had written its introduction.
"As far as I can tell, if there's any malign intent here, it was someone making Drudge think Michael was somehow doing something for [Kerry's] campaign," Osnos said.
The Globe book, "John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography," is an unauthorized biography. The work draws on extensive interviews with the candidate, all conducted before 2004. After he emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee, Kerry declined to cooperate with further interviews.
Amazon, the online bookseller, apparently contributed to the confusion with a listing for the Kerry-approved campaign book indicating Kranish as the author. PublicAffairs' officials said yesterday that Amazon had agreed to revise the listing immediately.
Kerry campaign spokesman Michael Meehan said Kranish had no connection to the campaign.

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