FOX's Snow lied about Navy documents to defend Swift Boat Vets attacks

Referring to widely discredited attacks on Senator John Kerry by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio host Tony Snow falsely claimed that “there has been no documentary contradiction of the swift boat stuff.” In fact, multiple documents contradict the anti-Kerry group's accusations and corroborate Kerry's version of events. As the Los Angeles Times reported on August 20: “Military documents and accounts of crewmates who did serve with Kerry support the view put forth by the candidate and his campaign -- that he acted courageously and came by his five medals honestly.”

Snow's comments came on the September 15 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, in response to a comment by fellow guest Juan Williams (National Public Radio senior correspondent and a FOX News Channel contributor), who observed that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's smear campaign was “promoted by conservative media that trumpeted it, despite the fact that all documentation contradicted it.”

SWIFT BOAT VETS CHARGE: Kerry's first Purple Heart wound was minor

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth member Dr. Louis Letson claims that the shrapnel wound to his shoulder that resulted in Kerry's first Purple Heart was a mere scratch that resulted from Kerry's own misuse of an M-79 grenade launcher. Letson claimed that he treated Kerry for the wound.


  • Letson is not named in Kerry's medical records as the “person administering treatment” for his first Purple Heart. The “sick call sheet” summarizing treatment of Kerry's wound indicates that a “J. Carreon” treated Kerry for the wound, according to both The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, as MMFA noted at the time.

  • The Navy regulations governing the awarding of Purple Hearts make clear that the severity of a wound is not among the relevant criteria.

SWIFT BOAT VETS CHARGE: Kerry didn't deserve Silver Star for killing wounded Viet Cong

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth claims that Kerry did not deserve his Silver Star because in the incident in question Kerry merely killed a single Viet Cong fighter who was already wounded.


  • Kerry's Silver Star citation (pdf) shows he was given the award not for killing anyone but, rather, for his “extraordinary daring and personal courage ... in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire,” as MMFA explained.

  • An after-action report on the incident, which was actually unearthed by a Kerry opponent, also supports Kerry's account, which MMFA also noted.

SWIFT BOAT VETS CHARGE: No enemy fire in Bronze Star incident

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth member Larry Thurlow claims that no enemy fire was present in the incident for which Kerry won both a Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart.


The Washington Post and the Associated Press devoted entire articles to investigating the Bronze Star incident and concluded that documents uniformly contradict Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's allegations against Kerry and support Kerry's own account. According to The Washington Post: “On the core issue of whether Kerry was wounded under enemy fire, thereby qualifying for a third Purple Heart, the Navy records clearly favor Kerry.” The Associated Press reported: “Kerry's version is supported by others present at the time as well as by Navy documents.”

  • Kerry's Bronze Star citation (pdf) and the Navy "spot report" (pdf) for the incident show that Kerry's boat did receive enemy fire, as MMFA has noted.

  • Even Thurlow's own records indicate that Kerry's boats received enemy fire. Both Thurlow's Bronze Star citation (pdf) and his award recommendation (pdf) refer to enemy fire during the March 13, 1969, incident, as both The Washington Post ("Records Counter a Critic of Kerry") and the Los Angeles Times ("Newfound Records Contradict Kerry Critic") reported. MMFA noted these records at the time.

  • Contrary to Thurlow's claim that there was no enemy fire, The Washington Post reported: "A report on 'battle damage' to Thurlow's boat mentions 'three 30 cal bullet holes about super structure.'" The Los Angeles Times reported the same.

  • The Associated Press also reported on yet another document contradicting Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: “A Navy report filed five days after a disputed incident in Vietnam supports John Kerry's version and contradicts critics who say the Democratic presidential nominee never came under enemy gunfire when he won two medals. ... The March 18, 1969, weekly report from Task Force 115, which was located by The Associated Press during a search of Navy archives, is the latest document to surface that supports Kerry's description of the event.”

SWIFT BOAT VETS CHARGE: Kerry deceptively conflated two separate injuries to win third Purple Heart

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth claims that Kerry intentionally conflated an arm wound sustained in the Bronze Star incident with a non-combat wound in his buttocks sustained earlier in the day, hoping that their combined severity would be sufficient to merit a Purple Heart.


  • Though a "personnel casualty report" (pdf) falsely suggests Kerry's arm and buttocks injuries occurred during the same incident, Kerry's Bronze Star citation (pdf) makes clear that the Navy awarded him the Purple Heart based on the arm wound alone, as MMFA has noted.