The new Swift Boat Vets ad is wrong -- but you wouldn't know it from watching FOX

On September 22, the discredited anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth released for television a spurious new attack ad. FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes (on September 21) and FOX & Friends First (on September 22) both aired the ad, but neither show reported on the ad's inaccuracies. The new ad claims that Senator John Kerry “secretly met with enemy leaders in Paris,” and it repeats the group's previous false charge that Kerry “accused American troops of committing war crimes on a daily basis.”

While the ad claims that Kerry “secretly met with enemy leaders,” the Paris meeting to which the ad refers was not a secret, as The Washington Post noted on September 22 and as text in the ad indicates (words at bottom of screen: “John Kerry's Senate Testimony: United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 22, 1971”). The ad is referring to the meeting that Kerry described in his 1971 public testimony before the Senate: “I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government.”

Kerry's visit to Paris was not to formally participate in negotiations with Communist leaders. According to the Post, the Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign said earlier this year that Kerry met with Nguyen Thi Binh, who was then foreign minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government and a top negotiator at the talks. The Post went on to say that, “Kerry acknowledged ... that even going to the peace talks as a private citizen was at the 'borderline' of what was permissible under U.S. law, which forbids citizens from negotiating treaties with foreign governments. But the campaign said he never engaged in negotiations or attended any formal sessions of the talks.” And as the Los Angeles Times reported on March 22, Kerry never supported formal meetings between North Vietnamese officials and American anti-war protesters: “Kerry recalled his opposition to VVAW [Vietnam Veterans Against the War] leaders meeting with North Vietnamese officials. 'I thought that would be disastrous to the credibility of the organization,' he said, 'to the people we were trying to convince about the war.'”

While FOX News Channel gave the ad free airtime without mentioning that its claims were false, CNN had not aired the ad in its entirety as of this writing. On the September 22 edition of CNN's American Morning, scenes from the ad were shown without audio while co-host Kelly Wallace reported that the “ad claims Kerry met with 'enemy leaders' during a 1970 trip to Paris.” Wallace reported that the Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign responded to the new ad by pointing to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's lack of credibility and by stating that Kerry “went to Paris on a mission to get American prisoners of war released and to end the war.” As of noon on September 22, MSNBC had neither aired nor reported on the ad.