Friday, April 16, 2004

Somebody stop these people 

I almost never click on banner ads, but here's one I just saw:

When you click on it, it takes you straight to www.GOP.com, where you find out, in tiny print they hope nobody will read, what Kerry actually said:
"Mr. McMANUS: If that amendment does not pass, will you then vote against the $87 billion?

Sen. KERRY: I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to--to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. That's irresponsible.
I'm no fan of Kerry's vote against the $87 billion, and I'm no fan of his hedging answer to this question, which not only refuses to give a straight yes or no answer, but also reads an accusation into the question that just isn't there. Kerry should have said, "If the amendment does not pass, then, absolutely, I will vote against the $87 billion," and explained why. But in no sense does Kerry's answer confirm the implication the ad is trying to make, namely that Kerry publicly renounced his vote after the fact, accusing himself of "abandoning our troops" and characterizing his own decision as "reckless" and "irresponsible."

The folks at GOP.com must have sensed the inadequacy of this quote, hence their inclusion of -- hold your breath -- some context. In the rest of the quote, Kerry goes on to explain why voting against the $87 billion does not   constitute abandoning our troops. The rest of of the quote, if you actually read it, controverts the argument the ad is trying to make. But the folks at GOP.com are very clever: in that tiny font, it's awfully tough to get past the first sentence.

I wonder whether this ad qualifies as libel. A legal definition:
LIBEL - Published material meeting three conditions: The material is defamatory either on its face or indirectly; The defamatory statement is about someone who is identifiable to one or more persons; and, The material must be distributed to someone other than the offended party; i.e. published; distinguished from slander.
The second and third conditions are easily met. The first one rests on the definition of "defamatory." If saying something false about someone with the intent of harming his reputation is "defamatory," then this is libel.
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