The New Media v. MSM on the Kerry Campaign

This post intends ultimately to be a quick and comprehensive list of the blogosphere-powered issues that have arisen around and because of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. For the most part, these issues have been ignored by the elite and mainstream media, and serve as a shameful demonstration of their preference for partisanship over truth. So far we are up to almost twenty issues, and more surface every day.

The post is also a commentary on the folly of the Kerry campaign to expose itself to problems caused by easily-checked inconsistencies and worse.


It made sense to me for both psychological and tactical reasons that John Kerry made his four months and twelve days in Vietnam the centerpiece of his candidacy, though it was a risky strategy.

The risks are now evident. John O’Neill’s success with Unfit for Command has been primarily based on a few sound principles: (1) meticulous research and sworn testimony by his 254 Swifties; (2) planning for and pre-empting the legal and other attacks from the Kerry campaign; and (3) an advertising campaign that eshcewed sensationalism in favor of sobriety and visual understatement.

The SwiftVets’ Original Marketing Plan

The SwiftVets’ plan was to use guerrilla marketing to get the most press coverage from the fewest dollars. Drudge to start the buzz, the internet ad for free exposure on talk radio and elsewhere, a few strategic ad buys, and pray. The debut of the book was set for news parched August. All in all, a sound marketing plan. But the SwiftVets could not have planned on their outrageous good fortune to see John Kerry saluting and “reporting for duty” in an acceptance speech that was all about Vietnam — this turned a sound plan into one of the great marketing successes in recent political history. John Kerry brought it on.

The seriousness of John O’Neill, his comrades, his research and his documentation, have presented a dilemma to the mainstream media, who are in the tank for Kerry by 12 to 1 in the Beltway. So it devolved to talk radio in part, but most importantly to the blogosphere, to develop the story and expose the lies and inconsistencies of the Kerry campaign. The importance of the blogosphere came from its ability to (1) do serious research; and (2) establish a written record of inconsistencies, fables, and folly. So not only was the battle joined between Kerry and the SwiftVets, but underneath that, between the blogosphere and the MSM, part of the “unelected permanent government,” in Glenn Reynolds’ phrase.

As of this writing, the Democratic press is still spinning madly for Kerry, and hoping that some resolution of Christmas in Cambodia, perhaps a mea culpa, ends this madness. It won’t. Kerry is a serial fabulist, lying unchallenged about countless matters for 35 years. The blogosphere is permitting many of the 2.5 million unknown Vietnam veterans to get their stories told in a way never before possible, juxtaposed against the story from a presidential candidate who called them all war criminals. This is the part of the story that the MSM still do not get. The SwiftVets versus Kerry is not a story of 254 to 1, but more like two and a half million to one.

The Early History of the SwiftVets Story

So I’d like to do my bit to record how some early moments of this saga have unfolded, and if you’d like to add some details or corrections, please feel free.

A little after 8:30 pm eastern time on Tuesday, August 3, Matt Drudge learned about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s explosive charges in Unfit for Command. He flashed his red-alert before 9pm, and by 9:35 he had written a brief story, soon to be updated with a cover picture.

Within a day, the SwiftVets first ad was available on the internet, and had been viewed by Lorie Byrd, Glenn Reynolds, the Big Trunk at Powerline, and countless others. Scripps Howard covers the release of the ad and the first Kerry denunciations.

The next day, the Kerry campaign sought to stop the ad through legal intimidation of the TV stations that air it, apparently unaware that John O’Neill has anticipated and pre-empted the attack through the detailed information and sworn affidavits he provided to the broadcasters as part of his information package. The Kerry tactic backfired. Friendly reporter Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe, either on his own or through contact with the Kerry camp, began to seek out Swiftvets who will recant their testimony, or who can be made to seem to do so.

Hugh Hewitt entered the controversy (hyperlinks in original):

[W]e get into the controversy over Unfit for Command, which Drudge powered to number 1 on Amazon last night. I saw the ad produced in connection with the book while appearing on Scarborough Country last night, and it is as tough as it gets in the political world. The blogosphere is super-heated on the story, as Technorati’s Book Talk makes clear. Some relevant posts are found at Wizbang, A Time for Choosing, The Commons, Slobokon’s Site O’ Schtuff, Instapundit, Roger L. Simon, Blackfive, and Powerline.

By contrast, the two blogs most obsessed with President Bush’s Air National Guard service –Josh Marshall’s and Kevin Drum’s– are thus far silent on the explosive allegations made in the ad and available in part from the book via a free chapter download at HumanEventsOnline.

The bigs are silent, except for the Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt, who has sprung to Kerry’s defense. Seattle Times columnist Collin Level is also an early entry in the lists. But the papers’ news columns are silent, which is very odd, especially as the New York Times has a huge story on independent expenditure committee ads blasting Bush, and the veterans group’s ad is an independent expenditure ad of potentially far more consequence than those noted in the Times’ high-profile piece.

Rush Limbaugh Endorses Coverage of the SwiftVets Story

Most importantly, Rush Limbaugh devoted his monologue in hour two of August 5 to the Swift Boat Vets. While he reserved judgment on the truth of the Vets’ claims, he perfromed the role for conservatives that the NYT provides for the liberal press — he blessed coverage of the issue. Importantly, he took as his first call a Kerry seminar caller in order to give credibility to the issue by demonstrating how worried the opposition was. (Now Limbaugh has endorsed the SwiftVets by having O’Neill on his program for an entire hour on August 23.)

In general in the first few days, the blogophere’s coverage was inchoate, as readers struggled to get their arms around the story, the O’Neill data package, and the book itself, in its own claims, and in comparison to previous Kerry biographies and statements. Examples:

On August 6, blogger Tom McGuire was all over the Swift Boat Veterans story like nobody’s business. Kranish unleashes his counterattack on SBVT George Elliott by tricking Elliott into saying something he did not mean.

By August 7 and 8 we are on to the weekend. The Powerline lawyers became engaged with the saga. Captain Ed has moved on to Christmas in Cambodia. Kranish is exposed by Tom McGuire in his widely read blog. I do my bit to expose Kranish in a blog as yet unknown. There are no stories about the claims against Kerry, or the controversy itself, in the NYT or WaPo.

The List of Lies, Fabrications, Stretchers, and Oddities Becomes Very Long

We see from the foregoing that the Kerry camp’s strategy was (1) legal intimidation of the outlets running the ads; (2) trying to trip up SwiftVets into contradictions; and (3) downplaying the issue to the WaPo and NYT in such a way that the political newspapers of record do not stoop to cover the kerfuffle. None of these has worked, because of the number, seriousness, and sometimes, the weirdness, of the Kerry fabrications.

Now, as we approach the end of August, our partial list of blogosphere-powered coverage runs to almost twenty issues, and I still haven’t included the bronze or silver stars or purple heart three. Here’s the list as of today:

Christmas in Cambodia

First, Captain Ed on August 7. Powerline and Captain Ed on August 8, noticing that Richard Nixon was not president in December 1968.Tom McGuire on August 10, commenting on Carl Cameron’s asking the question to Kerry:

The Kerry campaign first asserted that the Massachusetts senator never said that he was in Cambodia, only that he was near the country. But when presented with a copy of the Congressional Record and asked about Kerry’s letter in the Boston Herald, the campaign said it would come up with an explanation. After repeated phone calls, there was still no clarification.

The 1992 AP story emerges on August 8 via McGuire and Captain Ed. The old Kranish story on August 9, via the Captain. Powerline supplies a map to counter one lame attempt at explanation by the Kerry camp on August 10.

For now, let’s call Joshua Muravchik’s August 24 Washington Post op-ed the definitive piece on this load of bunkum from Senator Kerry.

Purple Heart One

Tom McGuire on August 10, which had been preceded by Captain Ed on August 7, when he obtained the comprehensive set of affidavits and chargessent to station managers by the Swift Boat Veterans. Captain Ed weighs in again on August 18, and the Washington Times arrives, saying the same things, and getting no definitive response from Kerry on August 25, as posted in Powerline.

Individual Stories from Vietnam

One of the first appeared in Powerline on August 9, unsolicited and heartfelt, the first of many. More on August 21, long and detailed.

Squirrelly and Unsettling

Tom McGuire quotes the Note on August 12 on reporters’ increasing dissatisfaction with the way Michael Meehan answers their Vietnam questions. Polipundit notes the Carville meltdown on Crossfire on the same day. I observe that this Cambodia matter is the first battle in a war between the blogosphere and the elite media.


Ed Morrissey breaks Alston-gate, the story of David Alston who was made to sound as though he served with Kerry on major engagements, but did not, at least on several, August 14. (Earlier report, August 12, partially true.)Russ Vaughn’s Night Before Cambodia Christmas debuts the same day.

Alston-gate Two: The Peck Story

Ted Peck was in command of the boat that became Kerry’s in late January 1969 when the boat came under attack. Captain Ed figured out that Kerry was claiming that he, not Peck, was in command that day and posted August 16. The Boston Globe on August 23 that Kerry’s website has now removed the documents where Kerry was taking credit for Peck’s exploits. The Kerry Camp offers no explanation, natch.

The Magic Hat

Dubbed the magic hat episode by Hugh Hewitt, this is the story of how Kerry got a certain chapeau while ferrying a CIA man to — Cambodia — as told to a WaPo reporter. August 10 in Powerline, and we’re still waiting for a mention in the WaPo. Steve Gardner debunks the story on August 10 via Hugh ann Powerline.

The Brinkley Chronicles

Doug Brinkley told the Telegraph that JFK was in Cambodia “three or four times” in January 1969. Tom McGuire makes bold to predict on August 14 that no such story will emerge from Brinkley’s pen.

Apocalypse Kerry

Glenn Reynolds finds the 1979 Kerry review of Apocalypse Now, in which Kerry casts himself as Martin Sheen, and finds Coppolla’s powers of imagination wanting, August 11. Scott Johnson thinks the better movie for Kerry would be Harvey on the same day.

War crimes

Tom McGuire wades into the deep water with this post from August 21:

Before I resume radio silence, I have a personal plea to the Captain, Roger Simon, Hugh Hewitt, and anyone who might be in contact with the Swiftees: as this post explains, it has been widely reported that Kerry was honorably discharged prior to becoming a war protestor. Not So! When Kerry was meeting with the North Vietnamese, accusing his fellow officers of war crimes, and meeting with a group that discussed the assassination of US Senators, he was an officer in the Naval Reserve. This was only acknowledged by the Kerry campaign in May of this year, correcting a phony Harvard Crimson interview from January 1970. Readers of the NY Times, the LA Times, and the Boston Globe are in for a surprise.

Twilight of the Elite Media

Thomas Lifson pens an excellent piece on the fall of the elite media, which is picked up by Powerline and others on August 15.

Washington Post: Do you remember the word “cover-up”?

Tom McGuire thinks the WaPo may be beginning to smell a rat. Does the WaPo care that it’s being lied to? Here’s what it says, via McGuire:

Although Kerry campaign officials insist that they have published Kerry’s full military records on their Web site (with the exception of medical records shown briefly to reporters earlier this year), they have not permitted independent access to his original Navy records. A Freedom of Information Act request by The Post for Kerry’s records produced six pages of information. A spokesman for the Navy Personnel Command, Mike McClellan, said he was not authorized to release the full file, which consists of at least a hundred pages.

I have thoughts on this same Post story on August 22.

Chris Matthews Loses His Mind

with Michelle Malkin on August 20, via Powerline.

The USS Gridley

Surprise, surprise: Kerry’s service on the Gridley is not what he made it out to be, via Captain Ed, Powerline, and I am sure others.

Notable among the USS Gridley fabrications is Kerry’s claim to have arrived back in California the day Bobby Kennedy died, which appears to be both false (the ship arrived two days later — from Captain Ed), and really creepy.

The Sampan Incident

In mid-January 1969, Steve Gardner shot up a sampan at night, killing a man. Kerry was manning the radar and should have provided warning about the slow moving craft, so that Gardner could have fired a warning shot. Gardner feels bad about the incident and blames Kerry. From the O’Neill book, via Pat Buchanan:

Writes O’Neill, “The Commander Coastal Survey for Vietnam … Quarterly Evaluation Report of March 29, 1969, states ‘… 20 January PCFs 21 and 44 operating in An Xuyen Province … engaged the enemy with a resultant GDA of one VC KIA (BC) (body count), four VC KIA (EST) and two VC CIA (VQ 810650/44).”

In this report, writes O’Neill, the sampan incident is depicted as “Kerry’s victory — killing five imaginary Viet Cong, capturing two Viet Cong in action (an exaggeration of the mother and the babe in arms who were actually rescued from the sampan) and omitting the dead child.”

Gun running and gum running

In 2000, Kerry told US News that he was running guns to Cambodia. Hugh Hewitt reported this on August 17.


Captain Ed reports on August 25 that, while Kerry’s last mission was March 13, 1969 (on Kerry’s website, in Brinkley’s book, etc) Kerry writes about a first-person narrative of a mission which was part of Operation Menu, which began on March 18, 1969.

VC the Wonder Dog

In the most hilarious of Kerry’s many tall tales, there is a magical dog on his boat. The dog gets blown sky-high by a mine, but is miraculously safe. From John McCaslin in the Washington Times on August 25.

This post is going to get updated quite a bit, but I thought it would be useful to start the documentation now. Among other issues, the mainstream press has accorded itself, for the most part, extremely poorly, while the lawyers, businessmen and interested citizens in the blogosphere have carried the water on the details and inconsistencies of the Kerry camp’s story.

One Response to “The New Media v. MSM on the Kerry Campaign”

  1. Judi Machak Says:

    I love this , I only wish I could e mail to my lefty friends

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