The Wall Street Journal repeated a long-discredited charge that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) reenacted combat scenes on film during his service in the Vietnam War in order to enhance his future political ambitions. In an August 24 editorial, the Journal alleged that Kerry "exaggerated some of his exploits even to the strange extent of restaging events while in Vietnam so he could film them for political posterity." The reenactment charge was most recently revived by the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry and publicized by Internet gossip Matt Drudge during the Democratic National Convention.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, current New York Times executive editor and former columnist Bill Keller debunked the rumor about Kerry's amateur Vietnam films. In a September 7, 2002, column, Keller wrote that he initially believed the rumor: "[R]elying on a report in the usually dependable Boston Globe, I mocked him [Kerry] for pulling out a movie camera after a shootout in the Mekong Delta and re-enacting the exploit, as if preening for campaign commercials to come." But Keller subsequently learned that the Globe article was false:
The first thing to be said is that the senator's movies are not self-aggrandizing. Mr. Kerry is hardly in the film, and never strikes so much as a heroic pose. These are the souvenirs of a 25-year-old guy sent to an exotic place on an otherworldly mission, who bought an 8-millimeter camera in the PX and shot a few hours of travelogue, most of it pretty boring if you didn't live through it.
Keller also wrote that, according to the Swift Boat Sailors Association -- "a group of veterans who manned" the kind of riverboat that Kerry commanded -- "lots of enlisted men did the same."