Conservatives complained that Swift Boat Vets were ignored; now they tout impact

Several conservative pundits have touted the influence of anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now officially called Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth) on the outcome of the November 2 presidential election. Media Matters for America voluminously documented the group's false and discredited allegations against Senator John Kerry and the intense media coverage the group received, especially in August 2004 following the Democratic National Convention.

On November 3, the group itself issued a statement touting the group's success. Speaking on their behalf, co-founder Admiral Roy Hoffman said: “We are pleased with the fact that we were able to effectively bring attention to our issues and raise questions regarding Senator Kerry's character.”

These triumphal pronouncements contrast sharply with complaints during the election by L. Brent Bozell III, founder and president of the conservative Media Research Center. Bozell complained that the news media was ignoring Swift Boat Vets, as MMFA documented here and here.

FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume was among those who touted the group's impact following the election. In September, however, Hume expressed dismay to Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz about the lack of media attention paid to the group and explained why FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume had devoted so much time to the group's false allegations against Kerry: “We thought it was a totally legitimate story and found it an appalling lapse by many of our competitive news organizations that were treating that story like it was cancerous.”

Here's what conservatives have said about the impact of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth/Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth:

  • Robert D. Novak, syndicated columnist and co-host of CNN's Crossfire, during a discussion of “the best and worst of the campaign”: “I think the best move was the Swift Boat Veterans, because John Kerry was getting away -- [...] John Kerry was getting away with all that baloney of his heroism, when it was very questionable. And the Swift Boat Veterans came out and they -- not only with his record in the war, but his outrageous record as a war evader -- they brought the election close and gave Bush a chance.” [CNN, Crossfire, 11/2/04]
  • Joseph Farah, founder, editor, and CEO of right-wing website “President Bush may be celebrating victory today, but he owes it to a group he never acknowledged during the campaign. I'm talking about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. They are responsible for keeping Bush in the White House -- or, more precisely, keeping John Kerry from snatching it from him. There is not a doubt in my mind this was the difference in the race. The vets did Bush's dirty work. They took Kerry on and told the American people the truth about this fraud, this liar, this deceiver. Just enough Americans got the message to preserve a win for Bush.” [, "Credit the Swiftboat vets," 11/3/04]
  • Jerome Corsi, co-author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry and a columnist: “John Kerry never thought it completely through when he decided at the Democratic National Convention to run for president as a hero of the Vietnam War. He miscalculated the number of his fellow swiftboat veterans who were even today unwilling to give him a pass. He underestimated how many of us had studied then -- and remembered today -- the degree to which he supported the enemy when he decided to work with Madame Binh, the Viet Cong's top representative to the Paris Peace Talks.” [, "The silent majority has once again spoken," 11/3/04]
  • Hume: "[A] new poll in twelve key battleground states shows that when it comes to which interest groups and their ads were most effective this campaign, the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth leads the pack. The poll conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates shows that 72 percent of voters were aware of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, compared with only 49 percent who knew about the anti-Bush group In addition, far more voters say the Swift Boat Veterans had the most impact than say that about any other group. What's more, 39 percent of Bush voters say the anti-Kerry group had the most impact while less than half that number of Kerry voters said that about that anti-Bush group." [FOX News Channel, Special Report with Brit Hume, 11/3/04]