Lt. Col. (Ret.) Patterson gets a “Buzz” out of distorting Kerry's record

Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, author of Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Compromised America's National Security (Regnery Publishing, 2003) and the newly released Reckless Disregard: How Liberal Democrats Undermine Our Military, Endanger Our Soldiers, and Jeopardize Our National Security (Regnery Publishing, 2004), appeared as a guest on the July 19 edition of Hannity & Colmes and the July 20 edition of FOX & Friends (both on FOX News Channel), where he issued a series of unfounded attacks against Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and the Democratic Party.

On Hannity & Colmes, Patterson joined co-host Sean Hannity in distorting Kerry's record on defense and intelligence spending:

PATTERSON: He's voted against every major weapons system that the military ...

HANNITY: Every one of them.

PATTERSON: Every single one of them.

HANNITY: And when they say he didn't, these are slanted votes, that's a lie. He was dead set against them.

PATTERSON: Every single one of them over his 20 years in Senate.

HANNITY: Wanted $7 billion in intelligence cuts after the first Trade Center bombing.

PATTERSON: That's right.

Patterson also distorted Kerry's Senate voting record on FOX & Friends, saying Kerry spent “Twenty years voting against every single major weapons system that the military is fighting the war on terror with today,” and that Kerry “served on the Senate Intelligence Committee for eight years, never voted for an increase of funding, voted for cuts three times, voted for cuts during the 1990s during the war on terror.”

As Media Matters for America previously noted when Hannity made similar false claims about Kerry's voting record on military funding, Patterson's and Hannity's claim that Kerry “voted against every weapons system” presently in use by the military echoed Bush-Cheney '04 campaign advertisements and a February Republican National Committee research brief that misrepresented the facts on Kerry's record. As the Annenberg Political Fact Check explained, “Kerry's votes against overall Pentagon money bills in 1990,1995 and 1996 were not votes against specific weapons. And in fact, Kerry voted for Pentagon authorization bills in 16 of the 19 years he's been in the Senate.”

On Hannity & Colmes, co-host Alan Colmes countered Patterson's distortion, saying, “I couldn't disagree with you more. John Kerry supported more than $4.4 trillion in defense spending during his Senate career.” Later, when Colmes reiterated his point, saying, “I just talked about the trillions of dollars he [Kerry] spent on defense,” Patterson replied, "[T]hat is not true, Alan." But Kerry's record speaks for itself. The defense authorization bills Kerry has supported in the Senate amount to $4.46 trillion in defense spending through 2003.

Patterson's and Hannity's claim that Kerry “wanted $7 billion in intelligence cuts after the first Trade Center bombing” -- a claim MMFA noted was also made on the July 16 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume -- may have stemmed from a March RNC research brief that pointed to Kerry's 1994 proposal to cut $1 billion per year from the intelligence budgets for 1994-98 as part of a broader deficit reduction package. But as the Annenberg Political Fact Check pointed out, "[A]t that time there was growing concern about how effectively the intelligence agencies were spending the money they had." Congress formed the Aspin Commission later in 1994 to examine the state of the intelligence services, concluding two years later, according to, “that balancing the federal budget would probably require that cuts be made.”

Lt. Col. Patterson also issued groundless attacks on Kerry's support for veterans, saying on FOX & Friends, "[H]e did not vote for a single military pay raise, for example, voting against pay raises 12 times" and on Hannity & Colmes that Kerry “voted against every single military pay raise, on 12 separate occasions.” In fact, Kerry has supported military pay raises. For example, in 1999, he voted in support of a 4.8 percent increase in the “monthly basic pay for members of the uniformed services.” Kerry also supported Defense budgets in 2002 and 2003 that increased military pay. (View the Senate roll call votes here and here.)

In his new book, Reckless Disregard, Patterson went further in his attacks on Democrats, bluntly stating -- without foundation, as Media Matters for America has noted several other pundits and reporters have also done -- that terrorists want the Democrats to win the upcoming U.S. election. Patterson wrote, "[P]olitical expediency is politics as usual for the Democratic Party. And in election year 2004, every terrorist cell, every terrorist hiding in a spider hole or cave complex, every phony business front used to launder terrorist money and every rogue state willing to sponsor terrorism will be watching the results, hoping for the party of political expediency to win again."