Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, October 01, 2004
Auntie can always be relied upon for spin when the pressure's on.

Her national television news reported tonight that the Democrats were claiming the Bush-Kerry debate a win for Kerry. With news like that who needs commentary?

On Radio National's PM, US correspondent John Shovelan was much braver. He claimed, in words read out by presenter Mark Colvin, that conservative commentators were calling it a Kerry win. This really was news, if it was true.

Shovelan presented no examples of conservatives holding up Kerry's mit, and to tell you the truth I haven't heard or read a single one.

Mind you, there must be tens of thousands of people who could be described as 'conservative commentators', so it shouldn't be too hard to find one to support Shovelan's report. On the other hand, to find two might be exceedingly difficult, and unless we can find several conservative commentators of standing I don't think we can say that Shovelan has proved his claim.

I'm going to do my best to help Shovelan appear better than a left-wing propagandist on the public payroll. Can I succeed?

Let's try the Weekly Standard's on-line daily, a hangout of intelligent conservatives of the kind an ABC operative might deign to read.

John Kerry was able to stir the faithful, but his performance wasn't enough to change the dynamics of the race.
according to Fred Barnes.

Jonathan V. Last, the on-line editor, scored the debate in great detail by rounds, and concluded: I've got this fight scored dead-even: It's a draw, 9 rounds for Kerry to 9 rounds for Bush.

Perhaps this comment from David Skinner caught Shovelan's eye: Frankly, I liked the Bush performance. His energy clearly flagged in the middle, as it often does for Bush about 20 or 30 minutes into a presentation. But he did a good job of depriving Kerry of the opportunity to make Bush look like he was sitting in his seat. Contra MSNBC, Kerry may have won on points, but he didn't look much better than a pretender. But if that's a win I hope Kerry wins the next two debates as well.

Kerry done in by mixed (up) message concludes John Tabin of the American Spectator, and his three fellow commentators agree with him.

Let's leave those rotten conservatives and try James Lakely of the Washington Times for a journalist's call: President Bush and Sen. John Kerry essentially stuck to their scripts, landed few significant blows and fought to a draw in last night's opening presidential debate, political strategists from both parties said. But not loud enough for John Shovelan to hear.

CNN's commentary called it a draw, I'm told by Glenn Reynolds.

Even the New York Times's editorialist, for goodness' sake, opined the event was obviously a draw.

I fear I could spend all night trying to preserve John Shovelan's reputation as a journalist, and still fail. If anyone can help John here, please feel free to comment.

But for now let me conclude: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is inventing a victory for John Kerry in the first Bush-Kerry debate. And you're paying for it.

Later: here are the words from the PM transcript:
Within hours, even many conservative commentators were expressing disappointment at President Bush's performance, and scoring the debate to Kerry.