Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The AP and the fallacy of false equivalence

This otherwise good AP article on the growing AWOL story misses the mark when its author, Pete Yost, perpetuates the fallacy of false equivalence.

With national security and the war on terrorism looming large on voters' minds, supporters of Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry are attacking each candidate's Vietnam War records. Republicans have accused Kerry, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, of fabricating the events which led to his five medals. Democrats point to gaps in Bush's stateside Air National Guard service in 1972 and 1973 to say Bush shirked his duty.

The is a false equivalence because all the documentary evidence released so far with respect to Kerry's record backs up his claims and, in many cases, directly refutes the claims of his attackers. However, in the case of Bush, it is the documentary evidence that repeatedly punches holes in Bush's claims about his own service and thus shows the attacks to be justified.

Got that Pete?

Kerry: the records back him up.

Bush: the records shoot him down.

Not the same thing.

Also, note the following from this story:

On Tuesday, the Defense Department released more than two dozen pages of records about Bush and his former Texas unit. They showed Bush flew for 336 hours in military jets after his flight training and ranked in the middle of his class.

Which brings up the question: why was a guy who was "ranked in the middle of his class" receiving "glowing reviews" for his performance? (see related post)

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