On the August 12 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, FOX News general assignment reporter Major Garrett distorted the truth about support for Senator John Kerry (D-MA) among veterans who served with Kerry in Vietnam. Garrett asserted that John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, co-authors of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, "correctly point out that, of those Navy personnel who served alongside Kerry or performed similar duties, more now questioned his war record than defend it."
The anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth claims 254 members, and O'Neill, the group's co-founder, claimed on the August 12 edition of CNN's Crossfire that there "are more than 60 people that served with John Kerry that contributed to this book [Unfit for Command]." While the group's members are veterans of the Vietnam War and may have served at the same time as Kerry or even near Kerry, Steve Gardner is the only one of the men attacking Kerry to have actually served on the swift boats that Kerry commanded. Of those veterans who served under Kerry, the Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign has pointed out that 11 of the 12 support him, many of whom appeared with Kerry in Boston at the Democratic National Convention, according to an August 4 Scripps Howard News Service report.
During his August 12 appearances on Crossfire and on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, O'Neill claimed that another anti-Kerry veteran, William Schachte, served on a boat (a small whaler) with Kerry the night Kerry received the injury that resulted in his first Purple Heart. On Hardball, John Hurley, the national director of Veterans for Kerry responded, "There were three men on that boat that night, John Kerry, Bill Zaladonis, Pat Runyon, period, three men on that boat. ... There was no one else on that boat that night." When pressed on Crossfire by Former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis about the number of men on the whaler, O'Neill could only reply that "[t]here were at least three and possibly four men on the whaler."
As Media Matters for America previously documented, Retired Adm. Roy F. Hoffmann, chairman and co-founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, has even "acknowledged he had no first-hand knowledge to discredit Kerry's claims to valor," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on May 6, "and said that although Kerry was under his command, he really didn't know Kerry much personally," though Hoffmann has since changed his story.