On October 31, several Fox News anchors and on-screen text during Fox News programming misrepresented what Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) said during an October 30 speech at a campaign rally in Pasadena, California, by simply adopting the White House's characterization of Kerry's remarks -- that Americans who don't "study hard" and "make an effort and be smart" get "stuck in Iraq." In fact, Kerry said, "Education, you know, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." According to Kerry, he was referring to President Bush's poor preparation for the war, not the lack of education of members of the U.S. military. Kerry said he botched a joke, and according to CNN, a Kerry aide said Kerry was supposed to have said: "I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq." Contrary to Fox's misrepresentations, Kerry did not mention "uneducated people fight[ing]" in Iraq or "troops," as Fox asserted at one point through on-screen text.
- On the October 31 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, anchor Martha MacCallum declared that Kerry said "[i]n essence ... only uneducated people fight for our country." MacCallum further reported on criticism of Kerry's remarks by the White House and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) without noting that a Kerry aide had already stated that Kerry was referring to President Bush.
- Also during a subsequent report on the October 31 edition of Fox News Live, while Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume discussed Kerry's statement, on-screen text read, "Kerry defends statement on troops & education." In fact, Kerry defended his statement by explicitly asserting that he was not talking about the "troops" but, rather, about Bush.
- On the October 31 edition of Studio B with Shepard Smith, Smith cropped the portion of Kerry's remarks where he stated that his remarks were about Bush, then asserted that "Kerry told a group of college students, 'if you do your homework, and you do well, you won't get stuck in Iraq.' "
From the October 31 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum:
MacCALLUM: But coming up, continuing coverage of the unbelievable comments that were heard yesterday, actually from Senator Kerry, bringing the political debate to a whole new level. In essence saying that only uneducated people fight for our country. It's a difficult -- you know everybody's, you know, sort of parsing this statement right now, but it's causing a major controversy today. We're going to have more on this ahead. Stay with us.
MacCALLUM: All right, John Kerry making some very controversial statements yesterday in Pasadena, California. He said, "I just want to say -- he said we are here to talk about education but I have something to say about Iraq. Education, you know, if you make the most of it and study hard and you make an effort and be smart, you can do well. If you don' t, you can get stuck in Iraq." These comments, a lot of people are saying they are extremely negative for our military. Tony Snow coming out, John McCain coming out and asking Senator Kerry to apologize about what he sees as derogatory comments about our people serving in the military and serving in Iraq. So this, obviously, is sparking a lot of controversy this afternoon. We're going to keep covering it, we'll keep a close eye on it.
From the October 31 edition of Fox News' Studio B:
SMITH: The war of words between the White House and Sen. John Kerry is now escalating. Less than an hour ago, Sen. Kerry responded to criticism over Iraq, making it crystal clear he will not apologize, but he will apologize for the administration's handling of the war in Iraq:
KERRY [video clip]: -- not about the troops. The White House's attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe. It's a stunning statement about their willingness to reduce anything America to raw politics. It's their willingness to distort, it's their willingness to mislead Americans. Their willingness to exploit the troops as they have so many times, at backdrops, at so many speeches at which they have not told the American people the truth.
SMITH: Well, that from a short time ago live here on Fox News Channel. And it was all ignited, this firestorm last night, right here in California, where Senator Kerry told a group of college students, "if you do your homework, and you do well, you won't get stuck in Iraq." The White House called Kerry's remarks an absolute insult to the United States military. There are two sides to this, and rest assured, the campaign bubble is percolating again.