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September 15, 2004

Sorting Out More CBS 'Facts'

I was poking around the CBS site and came across a timeline for Kerry's military service. It's very abbreviated, and very wrong on some points. I suppose that's hardly surprising. CBS doesn't have a stellar reputation for recognizing facts from fiction (or forgeries). But I thought it worth making the point just how pervasive is the sloppy behavior of CBS.

Here's the appropriate section to the CBS timeline, followed by the similar section on the Kerry campaign website:
CBS Kerry Service Timeline Excerpt

Excerpt from CBS's Timeline of Kerry's Military Service
(Click Their War Years, then Kerry Timleine)

Kerry Campaign Timeline Excerpt
Excerpt from Timeline on Kerry Campaign Site

Both of these are incorrect. I base this statement on the U.S. Navy records archived as pdf files on the Kerry campaign site itself. Pertinent sections are clipped from those and displayed below, but you can go check the pdfs for yourself (unless they disappear from the Kerry site, as things have before). The March 1, 1970 date on the Kerry Campaign website is clearly the result of reading the military date notation civilian style. Whoever did that one read "03 01 1970" in month-day-year order, rather than day-month-year. Refering to other documents confirms the January 3, 1970 date. The use of the same date for Kerr's request for early discharge from active duty may come from Brinkley's book. He gets it wrong there, and the campaign site cites him as one source.

The CBS dates mystify me. I suppose whoever did that one misreads a discharge from active duty, in this case a transfer from active duty to reserve duty, as an honorable discharge, but that's a pretty bad mistake since the honorable discharge itself is available. I haven't found what they are referring to with the December date. Why would Kerry apply for an early discharge form active duty, then extend active duty for six months a couple of weeks later (and I haven't found any record that he did), then accept the early discharge in the form of a transfer to the reserves a couple more weeks later? Even for Kerry this seems an odd flip-flop.

For comparison I'll make a dislogue timeline (Okay, okay, I just copied from the service record below. How hard was that?):

    dislogue Timeline

November 29, 1969

Kerry's letter requesting early release from active duty

January 1, 1970

Promotion to Lieutenant

January 3, 1970

Transfer from active duty to U.S. Naval Reserve effective

July 1, 1972

Transfer to Standby Reserve - inactive

February 16, 1978

Honorable discharge from U.S. Naval Reserve

Below are excerpts from Kerry's U.S. Navy records as archived on the Kerry campaign site:

Excerpt from Kerry's Separation from Active Duty letter

Excerpt from Excerpt from Kerry's Separation from Active Duty letter

CBS Kerry Service Timeline Excerpt

Excerpt from Kerry's Honorable Discharge letter

Excerpt from Kerry's Service Record

Excerpt from Excerpt from Kerry's Service Record

Posted by dan at September 15, 2004 09:14 PM