9News, CBS4 repeated White House attacks on Kerry's Iraq remarks but omitted his response

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KUSA and KCNC newscasts repeated President Bush's criticism of Sen. John Kerry's statement about "get[ting] stuck in Iraq" but did not note Kerry's explanation that his remarks were aimed at Bush, not U.S. troops. Neither report mentioned that the prepared remarks for Kerry's speech, as reported by CNN.com, appear to support Kerry's assertion.

During their 5 p.m. October 31 newscasts, KUSA 9News and KCNC CBS4 reported President Bush's criticism of U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry's (D-MA) October 30 comment during a speech that "if ... you study hard and 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." Both stations repeated Bush administration suggestions that Kerry was insulting U.S. troops in Iraq, but neither report noted Kerry's explanation that his remarks were aimed at President Bush, not U.S. troops. Moreover, neither report mentioned the prepared remarks for Kerry's speech, which, as reported by CNN.com earlier that day, appear to support Kerry's explanation.

Kerry made the remark while addressing a crowd at Pasadena City College in California, where he was supporting California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides. Several Republicans, including U.S. Sen. John McCain (AZ) and President Bush, criticized the remarks, demanding an apology from Kerry, whom Bush accused of suggesting "that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated."

As the Associated Press reported, Kerry issued a public response to the criticisms on October 31, asserting that the remark was "a botched joke about the president and the president's people, not about the troops." Though CBS4 did note that Kerry called the remark a "botched joke," neither CBS4 nor 9News explained in the 5 p.m. reports that Kerry said the remark was about Bush, not U.S. troops. Moreover, neither report noted that, according to a CNN.com article posted several hours earlier, "Kerry was supposed to say, '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.' "

From the October 31 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at 5 p.m.:

MOLLY HUGHES (co-anchor): Democratic Senator John Kerry says he will not apologize for comments he made on the campaign trail yesterday. Kerry is defending what he calls a "botched joke" delivered while promoting a California gubernatorial candidate's education plan.

KERRY: If you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you -- you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

BUSH: The members of the United States military are plenty smart, and they are plenty brave, and the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology.

HUGHES: President Bush says the service members deserve the full support of the government no matter which party they are from. Kerry is arguing the Bush administration owes the Americans an apology for its flawed policy on Iraq.

From the October 31 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 5 p.m.:

ADELE ARAKAWA (co-anchor): A war of words between Senator John Kerry and the White House.

[...]

ARAKAWA: President Bush's press secretary is calling on Senator John Kerry to apologize for comments Kerry made to college students on Monday.

KERRY: If you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you -- you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

ARAKAWA: Press secretary Tony Snow called the comment an insult to men and women serving in Iraq and the families of the fallen. Kerry today said it's the White House that owes the U.S. troops an apology.

On CNN's 2 p.m. (EST) edition of CNN Newsroom, CNN Congressional Correspondent Andrea Koppel already was reporting that "According to Kerry's Communication Director David Wade ... the senator... misspoke during what were prepared remarks in Pasadena."

As an online article on CNN's website, posted at 2:45 p.m. EST on October 31, further reported:

A Kerry aide told CNN that the prepared statement, which had been designed to criticize President Bush, "was mangled in delivery."

Kerry was supposed to say, "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."

As The Boston Globe subsequently reported, reporters received copies of Kerry's prepared remarks from the Pasadena speech, which suggest that Kerry's written remarks did, in fact, take aim at Bush and Bush administration policies. From a November 1 article in The Boston Globe:

Kerry aides yesterday said the senator bungled a line intended to make fun of the president, a fellow Yale University graduate who has poked fun at his own lackadaisical attitude toward his schooling. According to Kerry's prepared text, as provided to reporters, Kerry intended to reference Bush in that portion of the speech.

"Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy?" Kerry was to say. "You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."

On November 1, Kerry said in a statement, "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended."

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