Wes Clark appeared on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, and host Tim Russert grilled him on the subject of George W. Bush's military record.
Russert kept asking Clark if it had been appropriate for Michael Moore to call Dubya a deserter. Clark tried again to sidestep the question, saying the issue was not Bush's Vietnam era record but his recent performance; Russert, however, wouldn't let it go. He kept asking Clark whether the label was accurate.
Afterwards, Russert brought up the subject again with his panel of analysts. Tom Brokaw admitted that Bush had a record of "absenteeism" during his days in the Guard, but that scarcely does justice to the breadth and scope of the known facts. Bush was, from all indications, AWOL for over a year, twice failing to comply with written orders to report for duty. He was grounded for failure to report for a physical--which he knew might include a random drug test--during a period when he has admitted he was drinking heavily, and is alleged to have been abusing other drugs (a charge he has never denied).
Was Bush guilty of desertion? That's not for Clark to say. Could he have been charged? Absolutely. If he had not been the son of a Congressman, would he have been charged and convicted? Nobody can say for sure. But rather than pressuring Wes Clark to say whether he believes Bush was a deserter, the job of NBC and the rest of the news media is to research and report the facts. That is a duty in which NBC, ABC, and the rest of the corporate media have been sadly, shamefully AWOL for years.