October 06, 2005

John Kerry, Campaign Aide Sued for Defamation

This is interesting:

A filmmaker has sued Sen. John Kerry and a one-time campaign aide, saying they defamed him as they sought to block the broadcast of an anti-Kerry documentary during the 2004 presidential election.

The lawsuit, filed this week on behalf of producer Carlton Sherwood and a Vietnam veterans group, is the latest salvo in the battle over the documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal."

The film contends that Kerry's anti-war activities when he returned from Vietnam caused further harm to captured U.S. soldiers.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group, which as of last year owned 62 TV stations that reached a quarter of all U.S. households, canceled plans to air the documentary during the razor-close Bush-Kerry race last fall and instead showed only portions of it as part of a broader program.

The Democratic National Committee had complained that "Stolen Honor" amounted to an illegal in-kind contribution to President Bush's campaign, and Kerry's campaign asked for equal time.

Sherwood's suit alleges that Kerry directed the DNC to issue a statement that falsely said the film was produced and funded by "extreme right-wing activists."

The film was funded only by Vietnam veterans from Pennsylvania, according to Sherwood, a Harrisburg resident who served in Vietnam. He and a combat veterans group called the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation filed the federal suit in Philadelphia on Monday.

The suit charges that Anthony Podesta, who ran Kerry's campaign in Pennsylvania, called Sherwood "a disgraced journalist" and "Bush hack" in a widely circulated e-mail.

Kerry's Senate office was preparing a response Wednesday, spokesman David Wade said. Podesta did not immediately return a message.

I remember seeing excerpts of the documentary, and it was very powerful. The documentary included Vietnam veterans and former P.O.W.'s describing how John Kerry's anti-war antics angered them, dishonored them and in the case of the P.O.W.'s, made their captivity worse. It did not paint a very good picture of John Kerry and it highlighted a time in Kerry's life that was less than honorable. No wonder Kerry, who essentially ran on his "record" in Vietnam, wanted it quashed.
This was different than the "Swiftboat Veterans For Truth". This documentary did not get into the fight about whether or not John Kerry earned his medals. While I tend to believe much of what the Swiftboat Veterans have alleged (e.g., there was no Christmas mission into Cambodia - which, it has been proven was a fabricated story on John Kerry's part), the truth as to whether John Kerry earned his medals or was a true "war hero" is a much more difficult argument. Honestly, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
This documentary focused on his anti-war and anti-American activities following his return from Vietnam and how it affected our men in uniform. I believe that this was an important story for the American public to know more about. These were American servicemen, who more than earned their right to voice their opinions and discuss their experiences. While I normally would not care what someone was like 30 years ago in judging their qualifications for office, John Kerry made Vietnam an issue by lauding his experience there as one of the biggest qualifications for President. So, why not examine what he did when he left the service?
In the end, the Kerry campaign launched a smear campaign against the documentary filmmaker and threatened to sue television stations that aired the documentary. It worked. The documentary was eventually only shown in a very limited number of areas.
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