On America's Election HQ, Eric Shawn did not challenge retired Col. George "Bud" Day's false assertion that "what was said in the Swift Boat campaign by the swift boaters [was] absolutely true." In fact, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth promoted false and baseless smears about Sen. John Kerry's military service during the 2004 presidential campaign.
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On the July 6 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, anchor Eric Shawn did not challenge retired Air Force Col. George "Bud" Day's false assertion that "what was said in the Swift Boat campaign by the swift boaters [was] absolutely true." As Media Matters for America has noted, Day -- a part of Sen. John McCain's "Truth Squad" -- was a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which promoted false and baseless smears about Sen. John Kerry's military service during the 2004 presidential campaign, including an ad that McCain himself called "dishonest and dishonorable." Day was responding to Shawn's questions regarding retired Gen. Wesley Clark's June 29 comments on CBS' Face the Nation that many in the media falsely reported as an attack on McCain's military service.
Further, Shawn, while reporting that "the McCain campaign used [Day] to rebut Wesley Clark's remarks," did not challenge Day regarding the false assertion he reportedly made during a June 30 conference call that "General Clark spent a month in Vietnam, got badly wounded, evacuated, and that was his Vietnam experience." In fact, as Media Matters has noted, Clark served at least six months in Vietnam, first as a 1st Infantry Division staff officer (assistant G-3) from July 1969 until January 1970, and then as an infantry company commander from January 1970 until he was wounded in combat on February 19, 1970.
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the July 6 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
SHAWN: One week after attacking Senator John McCain, it looks like retired NATO supreme commander General Wesley Clark could be waving the white flag. His aides have announced he is, quote, "taking a break" from his efforts at supporting Barack Obama and speaking out publicly. General Clark made the remarks, that were very controversial, during an interview with CBS' Face the Nation last Sunday. He argued that he didn't think that Mr. McCain is up for being the commander in chief because in his words, quote, "getting into a -- riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down" is -- he feels is not a qualification to be president. Well, after being shot down, Mr. McCain was imprisoned as you know, over five years. He was beaten and tortured. This is video of him taken by a French journalist. They tried to use him for propaganda. They tried to have him to betray his country. He was in solitary for two-and-a-half years. He still has some of the physical effects of that torture. One of his cellmates, one of the most famous of his cellmates, joins us now. Colonel George "Bud" Day is on the telephone with us. Colonel Day is one of the highest members of the military who've been awarded the most honors for military service. Colonel Day, thank you for joining us on Fox News today.
DAY: Well, good morning.
SHAWN: What is your view of Senator -- General Wesley Clark apparently backing away of his criticism?
DAY: Well, it was a good -- really good time to retreat. After having made those foolhardy, incorrect comments, it's time for him to acknowledge that he made a bad mistake. If what he said was true, then that meant that John Kennedy's qualifications, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, all of those people were not qualified either.
SHAWN: Well, you know, he hasn't admitted or said that it's a mistake. He has backed up what he said, saying it's factual. I mean, is there a sense in your view that just because you -- in his view -- gets shot down that that doesn't qualify you to be the commander in chief?
DAY: I think that that's kind of a gross distortion. It's clear that just getting shot doesn't qualify you for something, but what you do in response to that certainly does. And John's conduct in POW camp, just as Harry Truman's conduct in the war, Eisenhower's conduct in the war, all of that is what counts. And what John did after he got shot down is really the telling issue here.
SHAWN: Well, tell us about that. When you first saw him, you thought he wouldn't live through the night.
DAY: Yeah. I never had any expectation he would make it. He was about 95 pounds. He was extremely sick. He was -- had those real fever bright eyes. I was certain that they had just dumped him off on me so they could claim that we let him die. And so, he made a remarkable recovery, because he was determined that he wasn't going to die. And then he went on to become -- as he got well, we got to be extremely firm friends. And today he is one of my dearest friends.
SHAWN: Well, you're with him a lot. You're on the campaign trail. In fact, the McCain campaign used you to rebut Wesley Clark's remarks. That caused the Obama campaign to go after you, because of your involvement with the Swift Boat Veterans in John Kerry's campaign. I mean, you've gotten criticism for that.
DAY: Well, I do. The difference in the two issues is that what was said in the Swift Boat campaign by the swift boaters were absolutely true. They were exposing what the real John Kerry. What Wesley Clark was attempting to do was to propagandize and diminish John McCain's good service, and that was false. So, he beat a good retreat, and a wise thing to do. After having put his foot in his mouth, the smart thing was to jerk it out.
SHAWN: Well, his aide is quoted as saying that he's going to go attend to his business affairs and it's time to move on, in his words. Not that MoveOn group, but it's time for Mr. Clark to move on, which he will. Bud Day, Colonel, we thank you so much. And I want to point out that you were a POW yourself, 67 months. In my book, all of you guys are American heroes. Colonel, thank you.
DAY: OK, well, thanks so much. Good to talk to you again.
SHAWN: Absolutely, Colonel.