On the August 23 edition of CNN's Crossfire, co-host Tucker Carlson repeated a false claim made by former Republican presidential candidate and regular CNN contributor Bob Dole on CNN the day before, then falsely denied that Dole had made another. Carlson repeated Dole's false charge that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) "never bled" as a result of his wounds in Vietnam and denied that Dole said Kerry received two Purple Hearts for the same day -- even as co-host Paul Begala tried to correct him.
The previous day, Dole had falsely claimed on the August 22 edition of CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer that Kerry was awarded two Purple Hearts for the same day:
DOLE: [W]hat I will always quarrel about are the Purple Hearts. I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heart -- he got two in one day, I think.
Though show host Wolf Blitzer failed to correct Dole, Kerry did not receive two Purple Hearts for one day. The Washington Post, however, did correct him in an August 23 article: "Dole erroneously stated, 'He got two in one day, I think.' Kerry's Purple Hearts were received for different injuries over his four-month tour in Vietnam, during which he also received a Silver Star and a Bronze Star."
Dole also claimed during his CNN appearance that Kerry "never bled" as a result of his wounds: "[T]hree Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds." Dole wasn't present when Kerry was wounded; however, Kerry's swift boat crewmate Del Sandusky was. In an August 23 Associated Press article, he responded to Dole's attacks:
SANDUSKY: I was there when he [Kerry] got wounded. I saw the blood. I don't care what Dole said.
Also during his August 22 appearance, Dole himself suggested that the opinions of people who weren't on Kerry's swift boat aren't relevant. Asked about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) denunciation of the anti-Kerry ads, Dole said, "Yes, but, John wasn't there. He was up in the air. He wasn't any ... [h]e wasn't -- he was in Vietnam, but he wasn't on the swift boat."
From the August 23 edition of CNN's Crossfire:
CARLSON: As Dole put it -- quote -- "I respect his record, but three Purple Hearts and he never bled that I know of? They're all superficial wounds" -- end quote.
Well, that's an interesting point. And coming from Bob Dole, it's not possible to dismiss.
CARLSON: And my question is, are you going to call him a right-wing thug?
BEGALA: Look, he served his country honorably.
CARLSON: It's true. What he said is true.
BEGALA: No, it's completely false. He also said that --
CARLSON: How is it false?
BEGALA: How you do get shrapnel to your leg without bleeding, Tucker? Was it a miracle?
CARLSON: He said, Paul, he said he was never hospitalized.
BEGALA: John Kerry got wounded three times. He also said he got two Purple Hearts for the same wound. Not true.
CARLSON: Bob Dole didn't say that.
BEGALA: Yes, he did. Bob Dole said it yesterday on television. He said Kerry got two Purple Hearts for the same incident, factually incorrect. All three of those wounds were several months apart. All three caused blood. All three of those medals, he earned, just as Bob Dole earned his.
On August 23, Dole called in to CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports to discuss his comments from the day before. During that call, Dole suggested he was irritated by how much Kerry talked about his war record and claimed, "I reminded him [Kerry] that in 1996, I didn't have anybody out writing these great stories about Bob Dole's war record and I don't think we were feeding them to people."
Though Blitzer didn't point this out, in 1996, Dole and the RNC heavily promoted Dole's war record. For example, the Republican National Committee (RNC) ran a TV ad that used photos of Dole recovering from war injuries. And Dole explained that the RNC ad was coordinated with his campaign.
"We can, through the Republican National Committee, through what we call the Victory '96 program, run television ads and other advertising," Dole said on ABC television. "It's called 'generic'....It doesn't say 'Bob Dole for President' it has my -- it talks about the Bob Dole story. It never says that I'm running for president, though I hope that it's fairly obvious since I'm the only one in the picture!"
In addition, a 1996 Dole campaign TV ad boasted that he was "tested in war."