Patti Ann Browne, anchor of FOX News Channel's FOX News Live, repeated as fact a misleading Republican National Committee (RNC) attack on Senator John Kerry's voting record on defense spending.
In a July 29 interview on FOX News Live with William Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts (and Kerry's opponent in the 1996 Senate campaign) who is part of the RNC's "rapid response" team at the Democratic National Convention, Browne claimed that though Kerry supporters are "heavily touting his military service ... when it comes to his record in Congress, he voted against the Bradley fighting vehicle, the M-1 tank, the M-15, almost all the tools that are currently used by our military."
As Media Matters for America has previously documented, this charge against Kerry originated in February with a misleading RNC research brief. Kerry never cast votes against either the M-1 Abrams tank or the Bradley fighting vehicle; rather, Browne and the RNC have cited Kerry's votes against yearly Pentagon funding bills in 1990, 1995, and 1996 to claim that Kerry voted against particular programs contained in those bills.
As the Annenberg Public Policy Center's Political Fact Check further explained, "Kerry's votes against overall Pentagon money bills in 1990, 1995 and 1996 were not votes against specific weapons. And in fact, Kerry voted for Pentagon authorization bills in 16 of the 19 years he's been in the Senate." Since each appropriations bill contains hundreds of line items to fund all aspects of the armed forces -- from weapons systems to soldiers' salaries to schools on military bases (as Slate.com's Fred Kaplan explained in a February 25 article) -- one could use the same logic to claim that Kerry had voted to abolish the entire U.S. armed forces.
MMFA was unable to identify any weapon known as an "M-15" that is used by the U.S. military. The M-16 is a well-known, standard-issue assault rifle that nearly all U.S. combat soldiers carry. In 1957 its manufacturer, Airsoft, produced a precursor to the M-16 called the M-15, but according to World Guns, a gun enthusiast's website, the U.S. military never brought that weapon into wide use. Even the RNC has not alleged that Kerry voted against this weapon.
After Browne parroted the misleading RNC talking points, she asked Weld: "Is the Bush campaign planning on focusing on all of this?"