FOX adopted another GOP talking point: reporters claimed Kerry "deserved" false attacks on his war record


FOX News Channel kicked off its coverage of the Republican National Convention by adopting a conservative blame-the-victim talking point: Senator John Kerry would not be subjected to lies about his war record if he had not talked about his Vietnam service so extensively during his campaign.

Mort Kondracke -- executive editor of the Roll Call and a FOX News Channel host* -- appeared as a panelist on the August 29 edition of the network's You Decide 2004, where he said of Kerry and the discredited Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks against him, "he deserved it":

KONDRACKE: I think it's amazing what this swift boat controversy has done to Kerry. I mean, he deserved it because he built his whole campaign around the fact that he was a Vietnam veteran. ... [T]hat was the major theme at the convention.

Dick Morris -- the onetime Clinton adviser turned critic, author, and FOX News Channel political analyst -- echoed this claim on the August 30 edition of Hannity & Colmes:

MORRIS: You have to go back to the Kerry convention. He screwed it up, because they had set up it [sic] as a domestic policy convention. And then all of a sudden, he starts talking about the war, and Vietnam, and then he laid himself open to the swift boat stuff.



MORRIS: Kerry was such a moron for the way he handled this convention. To base his whole candidacy on Vietnam, which is at best ambiguous ... And when the swift boat people came after him -- he's only getting what he deserved.

Then, on the August 30 edition of FOX News Live, host Jane Skinner previewed an upcoming interview with conservative radio host Tony Snow, in which they were to discuss the attacks on Kerry's war record, by asserting that Kerry's discussion of his Vietnam service "triggered" those attacks:

SKINNER: And John Kerry's using his Vietnam record, of course, as a centerpiece of his campaign, but that's also triggered plenty of attacks on him. How important will it be on Election Day? How important is it to voters? We'll take a look.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's attacks were orchestrated before Kerry had even become the Democratic presidential nominee. As MMFA has also pointed out, arguing that Kerry's discussion of his Vietnam service justifies the group's widely discredited attacks is akin to saying that any candidate's discussion of any campaign issue gives his opponent the right to lie about it. Before FOX News Channel began to incorporate this particular distortion into its reports, it was a preferred talking point and bailiwick of conservatives like Robert Novak and Bob Dole.

* This statement was erroneously attributed to Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard and a FOX News Channel host, in the item when originally posted. [return to article]

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 2004 Elections
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