Stolen Honor : A Media Matters for America review of the anti-Kerry film from Swift Vets and POWs for Truth

Defenders of Sinclair Broadcast Group's decision to order its 62 TV stations to broadcast the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal are claiming that Media Matters for America and other Sinclair critics are not qualified to comment on the decision because they have not seen the film. But MMFA has viewed Stolen Honor and can confirm that it is filled with lies and smears against Senator John Kerry.

Media Research Center director of media analysis Tim Graham said on the October 12 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor: “Well, obviously, you have the Democrats and their liberal friends at Media Matters trying to censor a news broadcast before they've even seen the film. It's -- it's sort of sad.” An October 13 Wall Street Journal editorial defending Sinclair remarked, “None of 'Stolen Honor's' critics appears to have actually seen the show.” The Journal then acknowledged, “We haven't seen 'Stolen Honor',” explaining: “Sinclair Broadcast Group doesn't own a station in our metro New York City market, though we're now tempted to hop on a plane to Buffalo or St. Louis to check out what all the fuss is about.” But Stolen Honor is available online.

Having reviewed the film, MMFA can confirm that at least two of the POWs featured in the film, Paul Galanti (MMFA has noted Galanti's false attacks on Kerry, which he made while a guest on FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes) and Ken Cordier (former member of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign's National Veterans Steering Committee, appointee to a Bush administration advisory committee, and vice chair of Veterans for Bush-Cheney '00) also appeared in Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads attacking Kerry.

While the Los Angeles Times reported that the film “shares several sources with the anti-Kerry campaign of the Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth,” the media has largely ignored this fact -- along with the fact that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and POWs [prisoners of war] for Truth are now the same group. The anti-Kerry POWs for Truth, who released Stolen Honor, merged with the discredited Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as a September 29 press release announced. According to that release, “The merger coincide[d] with a new $1.4 million television ad campaign released by the new group Swift Vets and POWs For Truth.” Swift Boat Vets also has significant connections to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, as MMFA has noted.

But rather than acknowledging the formal ties between the POWs for Truth and Swift Boat Vets, when asked by co-host Alan Colmes about the link between the prisoners of war featured in the film and Swift Boat Vets on the October 12 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, Stolen Honor producer Carlton Sherwood replied, “I'll tell you what the ties are. We're all Vietnam combat vets and we were all slandered and vilified by John Kerry, branded as baby killers. That's the tie.”

Sherwood's claim that Kerry “slandered” all Vietnam veterans upon his return from Vietnam echoed one of Stolen Valor's many lies. Following are some of the film's false attacks:

Stolen Honor falsely claims Kerry labeled all veterans war criminals

From Stolen Honor:

CARLTON SHERWOOD (Stolen Honor producer): “Wait a second,” I asked myself. “Did I hear that right?” Was I, or my fellow Marines, being accused of the same atrocities that John Kerry had committed? [...] To the average American combatant, having been branded by Kerry as a demon and a murderer, getting out of Vietnam alive was a high-risk adventure.

RON WEBB (former POW): To have former military people actually come up and testify against our activities in Vietnam and to accuse us of being war criminals was devastating.

JAMES WARNER (former POW): He [Kerry] was saying we had done these things. He was saying things that he knew to be false, and knew would harm us. That means he abandoned his comrades.

As MMFA has repeatedly noted, in his 1971 Senate testimony, Kerry was simply relating the personal experiences of other Vietnam veterans who had come forward and told their stories; Kerry focused blame on the leaders at that time, not the soldiers, for the atrocities they claimed to have committed or witnessed.

Stolen Honor falsely claims Kerry had secret meeting with North Vietnamese in Paris

From Stolen Honor:

SHERWOOD: Little did the American prisoners of war imagine that halfway around the world events were conspiring to make their precarious situation even more desperate: That an American Naval lieutenant, after a four-month tour of duty in Vietnam, was meeting secretly in an undisclosed location in Paris with a top enemy diplomat.

A Swift Boat Vets attack ad released in September also claimed that Kerry “secretly met with enemy leaders in Paris.” But as MMFA and The Washington Post noted at the time, the meeting was not a secret. Kerry spoke about his meeting with Nguyen Thi Binh (then-foreign minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government and a top negotiator at the Paris Peace talks) in his 1971 public testimony before the Senate.

Stolen Honor seeks to discredit the Winter Soldier Investigation without evidence

From Stolen Honor:

SHERWOOD: [Kerry] was the spokesman for the so-called Vietnam Veterans Against the War, many of whom would later be discovered as frauds, men who had never set foot on the battlefield or left the comfort of the states, or ever served in uniform except in mock contempt of the military. Their lurid fantasies of butchery in Vietnam were seized upon by John Kerry to help him organize the so-called Winter Soldiers Investigation, the template he would use to brand all Vietnam veterans. Never mind many of the horror stories seemed made up on the spot.

As MMFA has previously documented, conservative historian Guenter Lewy claimed in his 1978 book, America in Vietnam, that a Naval Investigative Service report about the Winter Soldier allegations had discredited many of the witnesses and accounts. But Naval Criminal Investigative Service public affairs specialist Paul O'Donnell could not confirm this report's existence, and Lewy himself admitted that “he does not recall if he saw a copy of the naval investigative report or was briefed on its contents.” Apart from Lewy's allegations, an MMFA search uncovered no other evidence that any Winter Soldier witness was an impostor.

Stolen Honor attempts to link Kerry to actress and prominent anti-war activist Jane Fonda

From Stolen Honor:

SHERWOOD: [T]his same Lieutenant [Kerry] had joined forces with Jane Fonda's anti-war efforts.

As MMFA has documented, the frequently used right-wing tactic of seeking to link Kerry to Fonda has even involved the doctoring of a photograph to make it appear that Kerry stood alongside Fonda while speaking at an antiwar protest. In February, CNN noted that “Kerry aides said he did not support Fonda's trip to Vietnam,” and that Fonda “said that she does not recall meeting Kerry during the antiwar movement.” For her part, Fonda remarked: “Any attempts to link Kerry to me and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time. I spoke, Donald Sutherland spoke, John Kerry spoke at the end. I don't even think we shook hands.”