While reporting on the 2004 presidential campaign for The Boston Globe, technology reporter Hiawatha Bray apparently wrote posts for several weblogs in which he declared his support for President Bush, attacked Sen. John Kerry, and bolstered discredited allegations by the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now Swift Vets and POWs for Truth).
Bray reported on technological aspects of the 2004 presidential campaigns for the Globe. In an August 11, 2004, article, Bray chronicled an incident in which hackers altered the websites of online bookstores featuring the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry (Regnery, August 2004), co-authored by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth co-founder John E. O'Neill. Bray reported that "computer vandals altered an online bookstore's website that was selling a popular new book harshly critical" of Kerry. He added: "The website attacks, at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, underscore[d] the passions unleashed by the new book, 'Unfit For Command.'"
In an August 19, 2004, article, Bray reported on political computer games, including a game on former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's website that encouraged support for Dean's candidacy and several games featured on the Republican National Committee's website "mostly devoted to mockery of John Kerry."
In a July 22, 2004, article, Bray reported that the Fleet Center in Boston, site of the Democratic National Convention, was potentially vulnerable to hackers using laptop computers with wireless Internet capabilities.
On August 26, 2004, two weeks after he reported on the hacking of websites selling Unfit for Command, Bray apparently posted a comment to an entry on Dan Gillmor's eJournal, a weblog hosted by SiliconValley.com, a technology news website operated by the San Jose Mercury News. Bray's post attacked Sen. Kerry's "moronic strategy" of publicly discussing his service in Vietnam and bolstered the allegations of discredited Swift Boat Vets' attacks:
While Bush says scarcely a mumblin' word about Vietnam, Kerry has made his Vietnam service the central issue in his campaign. Until recently, when the true cost of this moronic strategy became apparent, Kerry spoke of little else.
Now if Kerry's Vietnam service had been uncontroversial, this might have worked for him. But now we find that of the hundreds of men who served with him, nearly all hated his guts. The very fact that the SwiftVets backlash took him completely by surprise doesn't speak very well of his skills as a judge of human nature or as a strategic thinker.
Besides, the Swifties raise a bunch of telling and legitimate questions. Did Kerry really earn his medals, or did he wangle [sic] Purple Hearts for trivial injuries to earn himself a quick ticket back home? A look at the medical records would help answer the question, but Kerry won't release them.
Then we come to Kerry's post-war behavior. From his own lips, we hear him claim that his comrades were little better than the Waffen SS. He even claims to have committed atrocities himself. Either he's telling the truth about this -- and should have been put in the cell next to William Calley [an Army lieutenant convicted of murder for his part during the 1971 My Lai massacre] -- or he's lying, and shouldn't be allowed to serve as commander in chief of the soldiers he so casually lied about. Take your pick.
In fact, only one Swift Boat Vet member actually served on a boat that Kerry commanded; none were present for the incidents in which Kerry's earned any of his medals or his three Purple Hearts; Kerry did release his medical records; and Kerry did not accuse soldiers of committing atrocities. In his 1971 Senate testimony as a representative of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), Kerry related the stories of other Vietnam veterans who came home and participated in the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation, in which they described incidents they had said they personally witnessed.
On August 28, 2004, a post under Bray's name appeared on another article at Dan Gillmor's eJournal. He again supported Swift Boat Vets and downplayed criticism of President Bush's Texas Air National Guard record by claiming that the allegations against Bush were "backed by nothing but innuendo":
As near as I can tell, you think it's indecent for a bunch of guys who actually served with Kerry in Vietnam to call him a liar, even after some of their charges have proven correct (the Christmas-in-Cambodia bit). Meanwhile, you remain in a state of fury about allegations that Bush might have failed to meet all his National Guard obligations -- allegations backed by nothing but innuendo.
In fact, substantial evidence from Guard documents that the White House has released last year suggest that Bush failed to meet his contractual obligation to the Air National Guard, as Media Matters has documented.
On September 24, 2004, Bray apparently posted a comment to a conservative blog, A Small Victory, praising an anti-Kerry screed by the blog's author titled "Kerry's Exploding Fuel Tank," which predicted: "As the Kerry campaign goes down in flames, with it will the hopes and dreams of a million desperate people holding 'Bush is Hitler' signs. But they knew what they were getting into. I say, let them crash." Bray responded favorably: "Love the closing reference to one of the funniest moments in the movie Airplane -- 'They knew what they were getting into when they got aboard. I say, let 'em crash!' Loved that!"
On November 4, 2004, Bray apparently posted a message to the moderated electronic mailing list Interesting-People.org. He wrote: "As a Bush supporter, I'm feeling pretty good right now, so maybe I can't quite appreciate some of the bitter commentary I'm reading here." Later in the same e-mail, he delivered a message to those who voted for Kerry:
So suck it up, you guys. You lost, and that means that you and your friends did something wrong. You didn't get your message across or you need to change your position on some issues. Whatever. In any case, it's about YOU. Not the 59 million who didn't agree with you. You've got to do something different. Focus on that and you've got a chance.
One more thing: I know some victorious Republicans are gloating. Ignore them. Their day will come, as it does for all of us.
The Boston Globe is owned by The New York Times Company, whose ethics handbook, Ethical Journalism: A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments, lays out specific guidelines for the political behavior of its journalists, such as: "Journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics. Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of The Times. In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation."