Why are the cables still giving airtime to Swift Boat Vets attacks?

Though Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) and its spurious claims have been thoroughly discredited -- by Media Matters for America, by major newspapers, and by a recent memo from Navy inspector general Vice Admiral Ronald Route -- all three cable news networks are giving plenty of airtime to the anti-Kerry group's latest attack ad. In some instances, all three cable news networks have even failed to report that the ad's claims are false.


CNN co-host and syndicated columnist Robert Novak continued to stand by SBVT, its ads, and the claims made by SBVT co-founder John E. O'Neill and his co-author Jerome R. Corsi in the book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. From the September 22 edition of CNN's Crossfire:

NOVAK: I don't believe they've [SBVT] been discredited on any -- on any account.

As MMFA noted on August 30, Novak has numerous previously undisclosed ties to Unfit for Command's publisher, Regnery Publishing, Inc., including the fact that his son Alex Novak is director of marketing for Regnery, as The New York Times revealed on August 30.

On the September 22 edition of CNN's Inside Politics, CNN senior political analyst and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Bill Schneider reported, without challenge, the dubious claim made by the defenders of the SBVT ad that Kerry met with communists in Paris a second time.

As MMFA previously documented, just one person has made this claim: author Gerald Nicosia, who specifically backed up his claim by specifically citing only one piece of documentary evidence -- an inconclusive August 1971 newspaper article found in an FBI file that he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Schneider did report that the “secret” meeting to which the ad refers was not a secret at all; Kerry described the meeting in his 1971 public Senate testimony, as The Washington Post also noted on September 22. But earlier in the day, on American Morning, when CNN showed part of the ad -- including the portion in which the words “John Kerry secretly met enemy leaders,” appeared on screen -- national correspondent Kelly Wallace failed to report the inaccuracy of the claim that the meeting was secret.


MSNBC's Scarborough Country aired the ad on September 22. No mention was made of the ad's inaccuracies.

FOX News Channel

FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes (on September 21) and FOX & Friends First (on September 22) both aired the ad, but neither show reported the ad's inaccuracies, as MMFA previously noted. On the September 22 edition of FOX News Live, FOX News Channel general assignment reporter Major Garrett misleadingly stated: “Historians say Kerry made a second trip to Paris in 1971.” But as MMFA previously documented, Garrett produced only Nicosia, who wasn't identified to viewers.