Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Caught red-handed?

This morning on the Fox News website, Fox was running a post-debate story about Kerry with several apparently fabricated quotes meant to disparage the Democratic candidate.

(See the previous post for details.)

Some examples ...

"Women should like me! I do manicures"

About himself and the president: "I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy."

Now Fox has pulled the article from the front page without explanation. And on the article itself the passages I quoted in the post below have all been removed -- again, without explanation.

[ed. note: I saved a copy of the offending article in its original form. Normally, I'd upload it to the site in .pdf format. But I'm away from my office and without my .pdf making software. I have a copy of it saved in Microsoft's .mht format. So I'll work on getting a copy online.]

So what's the deal here? Where did the fabricated piece come from? Who made up the quotes? How long did it run? Why did it get taken down? What happened?

Is Fox News literally making stuff up out of whole <$NoAd$>cloth about John Kerry?

I don't expect much from this Republican operation. But this does seem to break new ground.

If you go to the front page of the Fox News site, there's a link right there up front to "Trail Tales: What's that Face".

Link through and you find this ...

Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday, Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate, in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president.

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.

With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going.

Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights.

"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.

Kerry still trails in actual horse-race polls, but aides say his performance was strong enough to rally his base and further appeal to voters ready for a change.

"I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.

A "metrosexual" is defined as an urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.

Did Kerry really say that stuff? Stuff that sounds like classic winger parody? I looked around on google and no other reporters seem to have gotten those choice quotes from Senator Kerry. A source on the Kerry campaign told me Kerry certainly didn't say anything remotely like that.

So what's the story from Fox? Are these quotes real? Made up? Unidentified parody? Straight-up fabrications?

So much indecision in the world ...

Last night the Miami Herald and a local TV station put together a panel of eight undecided voters to judge the debate. And as you can see from the lede of the piece in the Herald, one of them wasn't too impressed.

After the debate undecided voter Ted Lyons said Kerry sounded like "an idiot" in his response to several questions.

Then you look down into the article and see that Ted Lyons is a Republican political consultant. (Here he is hanging out with fellow members of the North Dade Republican Club.)

Maybe I've just gotten too cynical and jaded. But was Ted Lyons really undecided?

What the hell was the Herald thinking?

"In Samarra, the Iraqi government has tackled the insurgents who once controlled the city."

Iyad Allawi Address to Congress September 23rd, 2004

"U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault Friday to regain control of the insurgent stronghold of Samarra, trading gunfire with rebel fighters as they pushed toward the city center."

Associated Press October 1st, 2004

You really can't believe a word these guys say.

Remember too that Allawi had a representative of the Bush campaign working on his speech.

From a reader: "The 'hard work' is not getting the casualty report. The 'hard work' is being the casualty."

Another point that the Democrats should hit on mercilessly: "He's isolated."

That might well be an apt description of the president himself. But it was actually his description of Osama bin Laden.

Kerry hit again and again on the fact that the president failed to bag bin Laden in late 2001 and early 2002 in large measure because he started drawing off troops for the coming war in Iraq. He also put the final showdown in the mountains of Tora Bora into the hands of Afghan warlords, or rather their fighters, who had no real interest in taken bin Laden down.

To this President Bush's only response was that bin Laden is "isolated." In other words, he's pinned down and doesn't really matter any more.

Is that really how it is? Then why are we so worried about this terrorism thing?

Wasn't the White House telling us just a couple months ago that bin Laden was personally plotting and directing new attacks on America?

This was a feeble excuse for misplaced priorities. And Democrats should hit hard on it.

Late Update: Greg Wythe has the details. As recently as two months ago, one of the President Bush's top counter-terrorism deputies was telling the public that bin Laden was personally directing plans for a new large scale terrorist attack on the US. But the president says he's "isolated". So it doesn't matter that he botched the manhunt.

Did CNN get scammed by an 'undecided voter' who happens also to be a big muckety-muck in his campus branch of College Republicans? Take a look.

Does someone at CNN have a response they can send in about this?

By the way, I'd be happy to come on as an undecided voter too ...

A there it is. The DNC has up 'Faces of Frustration' -- a compilation of presidential grimaces, moments of pique, agitation, impatience and anger. 'Hey, why do I have to be up? I'm the president! What'd you say about me? I'm the president!'

PS: This is good on quick turnaround. But I think I remember a lot of gestures and grimaces that didn't make it into this video, some of the worst ones I think. Keep this one up. But the vid-wizards at the DNC should have their folks pore over that debate footage for the best stuff and re-edit that tape.

Another angle the Democrats should hit.<$NoAd$>

In various ways last night the president kept coming back to how being president is hard, how Iraq is hard, hard work, really hard, etc.

I see others have already picked up on this. And, for instance, Atrios quotes this passage ...

In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard.

It's-and it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work.

We're making progress. It is hard work.

If one wanted to be ungenerous one might note that what's really hard is being over in Iraq getting shot at every day. But the president did give the impression of being a little worn out.

I think we all know that the presidency is tremendously hard work, even for a president like this one who keeps notoriously light hours. It's amazing to look back at the way the office ages the men who occupy it. But worn out and complaining isn't exactly presidential or an example of strong leadership. No one's making him be president after all. Maybe it's time to move on. He's punched his ticket. He can move on to the next gig.

Perhaps someone can help me with this. But I'm pretty sure both campaigns agreed in advance that they wouldn't use clips from the debate as part of TV ads. But I assume that doesn't mean the DNC can't use them on the site or that independent groups can't use on their sites or even, themselves, use them in ads.

As I noted last night, President Bush's reactions during Sen. Kerry's comments looked really bad. I've heard various people say he looked peevish or irritable or tense of sullen or whatever. But what came through to me most though was that he didn't like being up and hearing himself criticized.

Whatever moods or feelings you ascribe to him, Democrats really need to pick up this ball and run with it and have people see those images again and again because they play to an impression of a man who is out of touch, doesn't like being questioned, petulant, unable to take criticism, as short on temper as on facts. Small, angry and in over his head.

Nervous, unpredictable ... (could I go on and on? Yes, and so should the Dems ...)