Wash. Post's Cillizza asserted that Swift Boaters "raise[d] questions about" Kerry's military credentials, did not note accusations were false and baseless smears

››› ››› ANNE SMITH

Discussing on CNN the 2004 presidential election and noting that Democrats believed Sen. John Kerry had "unassailable military credentials," Chris Cillizza asserted, "Well, lo and behold, a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth raises questions about it, John Kerry is presented as a flip-flopper, and that conventional wisdom goes out the window." But Cillizza failed to note that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's "questions" were false and baseless smears about Kerry's service in the Vietnam War.

On the July 13 edition of CNN's This Week in Politics, washingtonpost.com political reporter Chris Cillizza said, "[R]emember in the last election, the thinking was, 'We're gonna nominate [Sen.] John Kerry [D-MA]. He has unassailable military credentials. There's no way we can be branded as soft on defense, soft on national security.' " Cillizza then asserted, "Well, lo and behold, a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth raises questions about it, John Kerry is presented as a flip-flopper, and that conventional wisdom goes out the window." But Cillizza failed to note that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's "questions" were false and baseless smears about Kerry's service in the Vietnam War. Indeed, an August 12, 2004, Washington Post editorial called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign "a new assault on Mr. Kerry [that] crosses the line in branding Mr. Kerry a coward and a liar" and stated: "This smear is contradicted by Mr. Kerry's crew mates, undercut by the previous statements of some of those now making the charges and tainted by the chief source of its funding: Republican activists dedicated to defeating Mr. Kerry in November."

The Washington Post also reported on August 19, 2004, that "Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, [that] contradict his own version of events," referring to Larry Thurlow, "who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam" and "a leading member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Additionally, the Post also reported on August 22, 2004, that "although Kerry's accusers have succeeded in raising doubts about his war record, they have failed to come up with sufficient evidence to prove him a liar."

Cillizza's comments come just days after he mischaracterized Kerry's reason for calling on Sen. John McCain to "cut ties" with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth member and retired Air Force Col. George "Bud" Day. As Media Matters for America noted, Cillizza falsely suggested that Kerry called on McCain to "cut ties" with Day because of Day's defense of McCain's military service in Vietnam. In fact, in a June 30 statement, Kerry wrote that his call for McCain to sever ties with Day was due to Day's role in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Day's assertion that "the Swift Boat 'attacks' were simply revelation of the truth."

From the July 13 edition of CNN's This Week in Politics:

TOM FOREMAN (host): The continuing concern, it seems to me, with Democrats continues to be that uneasiness of moderates who may say Democrats get squishy on national defense. The Democrats keep saying, "No, we're not." But the perception remains.

CILLIZZA: I think that inevitably in politics, many of the observers are fighting the last election. And remember in the last election the thinking was, "We're gonna nominate John Kerry. He has unassailable military credentials. There's no way we can be branded as soft on defense, soft on national security." Well, lo and behold, a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth raises questions about it, John Kerry is presented as a flip-flopper, and that conventional wisdom goes out the window. So I think, again, you're looking at Democrats saying, "This is a situation where we think we're in an OK place, and the rug is going to be pulled out from under us." It's is why you see Barack Obama being relatively hawkish in terms of foreign policy, saying, "We need direct diplomacy," saying, you know, "We need to focus back on Afghanistan." Barack Obama's certainly not saying, "We need to retreat within our borders." That's a very interesting change in the way that Democrats have handled foreign policy.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Chris Cillizza
Show/Publication
This Week in Politics
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 2004 Elections
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