On August 30, syndicated Washington Post columnist and FOX News Channel contributor Charles Krauthammer echoed a smear against Senator John Kerry that was first leveled by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In its second TV ad, the anti-Kerry group alleged that in his 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry betrayed his fellow Vietnam soldiers by accusing them of atrocities. While debating Newsweek contributing editor Eleanor Clift on FOX News Channel's FOX News Live, Krauthammer said: "People ought to ask Senator Kerry, 'Have you no shame?'"
KRAUTHAMMER: Of course people remember, as Eleanor [Clift] indicated, that Vietnam was a tragedy. But they have to also to be reminded of what people like John Kerry did at the time of that tragedy, and that is, they betrayed the comrades who they left behind. They betrayed them by telling the world that these soldiers left behind were committing atrocities, as Kerry has said on a daily basis. It was a disgraceful act on his part to indict the soldiers, the veterans whom he had served with, and I think that the people who served with him and who have run the ads have the perfect right to remind people of a true history, a history of what this man had done 30 years ago.
CLIFT: I think these ads have taken a toll, but a greater toll has been the fact that Senator Kerry has been so almost passive in responding. I mean, he [Kerry] should stand up and say, "Look, I served in Vietnam. I have medals. Have you no shame?"
KRAUTHAMMER: The question is, "Have you no shame?" People ought to ask Senator Kerry, "Have you no shame?" To pretend to be a hero of the veterans after how you treated them 30 years ago and disgraced them?
But as Media Matters for America has repeatedly explained (on August 23, August 24, and August 30), Swift Boat Veterans for Truth grossly distorted Kerry's actual testimony, which recounted the stories of other Vietnam veterans who came home and related their personal experiences in what was known as the Winter Soldier Investigation. As Annenberg Political Fact Check has noted, "The ad does indeed fail to mention that Kerry was quoting stories he had heard from others at an anti-war event in Detroit, and not claiming first-hand knowledge." And Kerry did not blame these soldiers for the acts they claimed to have committed. Rather, the focus of Kerry's remarks was an indictment of the leaders at the time.