The media really has to do better than this brainless, context-less, "he said, she said" pseudo-"balanced" journalism that led them to treat the libelously false Swift boat allegations of the 2004 campaign, disseminated by the campaign of a deserter and draft dodger, as a straight-up news story.
This time around, the White House is gleefully, desperately jumping on Kerry for having said that, if you don't get an education, you could end up in Iraq. This supposedly insults the troops.
Let's start by noting that, beyond any possible dispute, the statement is objectively true. With less education you have less opportunities, and signing up for military service becomes much more relatively attractive. The military option, in turn, looked better in the days when it seemed that one would only risk combat if a genuine miliitary problem arose in the world, as opposed to an Iraq-style war of choice. So the Administration has taken one of the better options that people with low education previously had, and made it far less appealing.
Now we have Bush smirking about how Kerry has insulted the troops and needs to apologize, and the media report it straight up. Bush is the guy who sent the military to Iraq without a plan to establish security, and has had them there as sitting ducks, for several years now, without even giving them adequate body armor. Kind of him to be so protective of their dignity when Kerry makes a true statement about how he has wrecked one of the better opportunities that young people with limited high-wage employment prospects previously had.
Is it too much to ask that the media place this charge in proper context?
If Bush said that Kerry's statement was a code signal to warriors from the planet Zircon, telling them that it was time to invade Earth, and Kerry then denied this, would they report this, too, as he-said-she-said without pointing out that the Bush position was preposterous? No? Then we have established that judgment is needed at some point about which charges are too preposterous to report straight up without context. We are quibbling only about degrees. But degrees are quite important, and the Bush accusation is only a scintilla, if that, distinct from the planet Zircon scenario.