Sean Hannity hosted Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) founder John O'Neill and praised his 2004 ad campaign attacking Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. But the ad campaign praised by Hannity as "powerful" and "effective" was based on lies and distortions of Kerry's war record.
Following rumors that Kerry may be appointed as secretary of defense, Hannity hosted O'Neill on the November 15 edition of his Fox News show. Hannity played one of O'Neill's 2004 ads, which accused Kerry of lying about his service in the Vietnam War, and called the ads "very effective" and "powerful." Hannity complained that the Swift Boat campaign has been "used as a pejorative by the left":
But O'Neill is not a credible source, and his disgraced ad campaign has long been exposed as based on outright lies and distortions of Kerry's record.
A 2004 post by FactCheck.org found that the claims made by SBVT were "contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen, and by Navy records," citing as one example the group's claim that Kerry was never under fire during his Vietnam service:
But the veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen, and by Navy records.
One of the accusers says he was on another boat "a few yards" away during the incident which won Kerry the Bronze Star, but the former Army lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water that day backs Kerry's account. In an Aug. 10 opinion piece in the conservative Wall Street Journal, Rassmann (a Republican himself) wrote that the ad was "launched by people without decency" who are "lying" and "should hang their heads in shame."
And on Aug. 19, Navy records came to light also contradicting the accusers. One of the veterans who says Kerry wasn't under fire was himself awarded a Bronze Star for aiding others "in the face of enemy fire" during the same incident.
In 2008, veterans who served with Kerry attacked SBVT for "tarnish[ing] the sacrifices we made" and accused O'Neill's group of funding "lies and character assassination." Indeed, many of the critics involved in SBVT's ad campaign have made contradictory statements about Kerry's service or have acknowledged that they had no firsthand knowledge of Kerry's actions during the war.