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July 18, 2006

The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water

-- by Dave Johnson

This post was written for and originally appeared at the Patriot Project, which is no longer on the web.


The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water

"Swiftboating" is defined in the Wikipedia as:

"an ad hominem attack against a public figure, coordinated by an independent or pseudo-independent group, usually resulting in a benefit to an established political force. Specifically, this form of attack is controversial, easily repeatable, and difficult to verify or disprove because it is generally based on personal feelings or recollections." 

If you thought the tactic of "swiftboating" ended when John Kerry conceded the 2004 election, or perhaps when report after report and article after article after article refuted the "facts" or discredited those involved, you were wrong.

The professional Republican PR and campaign consultants who created, funded, and coordinated the attacks on John Kerry continue to spread their poison. And now, with the 2006 campaign season upon us they are ready to attack again, creating false stories and spreading doubt and mistrust about the more than fifty veterans running for Congress this fall. We can expect that candidates like Admiral Jim Webb, Admiral Joe Sestak, Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown and Captain Patrick Murphy will be targets for attack. So it’s a good idea to look back and understand what is happening here, how they have perfected the politics of political destruction since the strategy emerged, where some of them are now, and examine some ways to fight back.

Let's start with some background. In 2004, the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth claimed that Kerry was "unfit to serve" because, among other accusations, his wounds were "self-inflicted," and that he was guilty of "withholding and/or distortion of material facts" about his service in Vietnam. The accusations were later proven to be categorically false, and the funding and political team behind the group was shown to be closely associated with the Bush/Cheney campaign. Media Matters' compilation of evidence includes a link to this graphic from the August 25, 2004 New York Times article, Bush Campaign's Top Outside Lawyer Advised Veterans Group (and the chart and article only begin to touch on the connections). 


(Click for an enlarged version.)

But, even though false, the tactic worked. Public opinion shifted dramatically following the August 2004 attacks on Kerry. The Guardian story, Why America is still fighting the battles of Mekong Delta describes this shift beginning soon after the story began to hit the corporate media:

"A recent University of Pennsylvania poll showed that its attack ad questioning whether Kerry deserved his medals had been seen or heard of by half the voters questioned.

It also revealed that 44 per cent of independent voters found the advert at least somewhat believable. Meanwhile a CBS poll showed the number of veterans who supported Kerry had dropped from 46 per cent to 37 per cent." [emphasis added]

By the time of the "Swiftboat" attack on Kerry, the tactic of attacking and spreading doubts about the quality of a person’s service to the country had already been used successfully and refined. For example, in the 2000 South Carolina primary battle between George W. Bush and John McCain, Bush surrogates (several later involved in the Kerry swiftboating effort) skillfully turned McCain's service record against him (thereby deflecting questions about Bush's own service record.) They planted stories that the torture McCain suffered as a POW had brought about mental instability, including rumors that he had been programmed as a "Manchurian candidate" who "collaborated with the enemy." No longer could McCain use the fact that he had endured torture as evidence of dedication to serving his country. 

The tactic was then used on Max Cleland in his 2002 Georgia Senate race against Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss attacked Cleland’s patriotism, "for breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution." Surrogates more recently accused Cleland, who lost 3 limbs in Vietnam and received the Bronze and Silver Star, of being injured from "dropping a grenade" when drunk. 

Richard Clarke, President Bush's counter-terrorism advisor, was attacked after revealing that he had tried unsuccessfully to get the Bush administration to take al-Queda seriously as a threat before the 9/11 attack. Columnist Paul Krugman summarized "a campaign of character assassination" against Clarke, in which un-named administration officials were saying Clarke "wants to make a few bucks, and that [in] his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well." Other surrogates called him a "fraud." 

Even Bush's own Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was attacked with intent to humiliate and discredit him, with inside sources alleging "no one listened to him," accused of misusing classified documents, and forced to recant after he revealed that the Bush administration had been planning to invade Iraq even before the 9/11 attacks. 

And the tactic has continued since the 2004 swiftboating of Kerry. Ambassador Joe Wilson was famously attacked after revealing that the Bush administration had misled the public about Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellowcake" in Niger. His wife's undercover CIA status was "outed," ending her career, and he was accused of committing "treason," and being a "nutcase" and "liar."

In Ohio's 2005 special Congressional election, candidate Paul Hackett was smeared when the Jean Schmidt campaign questioned his service, asking if he "saw combat" and saying "I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all."

So why does swiftboating work? First, because it is simple, and lays down a clear good vs. evil, black-and-white narrative that is easily understood by regular people who lead busy lives and don't have the time and energy it takes to closely follow the news and track the real facts. And it is smart, professionally crafted, with tons of money available to do the necessary psychological, polling and focus group work that goes into developing messaging that resonates with the public, and getting that messaging into targeted channels with reach. 

Another reason it works is because it is (excuse the pun) offensive. They say that the best defense is a good offense, and considering their candidates, the Republicans certainly needed a defense. The Republicans have for some time been riding a public perception that they are somehow "better" on defense issues than Democrats. But this certainly isn't true, and they know it. (After all, it wasn’t Democrats who went on vacation, ignoring the intelligence briefing titled "bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the US.") This perception gap has placed them in terrible fear that the voting public might come to see that the reality is very different from the conventional wisdom.  There is also the fear that the pubic might realize that most of the Republican leadership actually had poor or nonexistent service records (see also "chickenhawks"), while many in the Democratic leadership served with honor.  

And in a race between John Kerry and George W. Bush we had a clear contrast when it came to the question of serving with honor. Kerry graduated college and, in the heat of the Vietnam War, signed up for the military. He volunteered for Swift Boat duty in Vietnam. After college Bush managed to move to the head of the line to get into what was called a "champagne unit" of the Texas Air National Guard, while checking the box on his "Application for Extended Active Duty with the United States Air Force" that read "Do not volunteer for overseas." It was clear that any fair debate on who had the courage and desire to serve his country during wartime and who didn’t was going to go one way and only one way. So yes, the Republicans needed an offensive, distracting defense, and they found one. 

So the Republicans decided to take the offense, and as us bloggers like to complain, the Democrats just seemed to take it. In the sixth century BC, Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, "Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits the enemy is at ease; he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary." And in his widely-distributed Republican strategy book, The Art of Political War, David Horowitz advises candidates to "provide a shield from attack." He advises candidates to "lead with" a posture emulating an opponent's expected strength, writing, "...working away from the negative image your opponent wants to pin on you. If you know you are going to be attacked as morally imperious, it is a good idea to lead with a position that is inclusive and tolerant." So following Horowitz's advice (and they do), if you know that you're "weak on defense," you "inoculate" yourself by claiming that you are strong on defense, and attacking your opponent first as being weak on defense. (FYI - Republicans accusing others of what they are themselves doing is formally named "The STF Rule.") 

And finally, in the landmark book Marketing Warfare, authors Trout and Ries talk about the tactic of turning a competitor's strength into a weakness. The idea is to find a way to use that strength against your competitor, so repelling your attack requires them to work against their own strong point. For example, since Hertz is number one, Avis advertises that their lines are shorter. It is hard for Hertz to counter that – what would they say, that they aren't popular? Similarly, by turning a record of honorable service against a campaign opponent, the opponent reminds the voters of the smear with every mention of that service. 

Building on this, Bush adds an "audacity" approach. But don't take my word for it – see the Variety story, 'Swift-boat' pros in demand in D.C. Spinmeisters go negative:  

"If you can construct believable stories with enough truth in them to smear somebody royally, boy, is there a pot of gold waiting for you in D.C. Spin doctors are nothing new in politics, but a certain type -- equal parts scriptwriter, opposition researcher and ruthless street fighter -- is increasingly in demand, and for good reason. Just ask John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate who became the target object of a new verb: “swift-boating.”

[. . .] "Modern communication isn't about truth, it's about a resonant narrative," says Eric Dezenhall, a former Reagan administration aide and now president of his own crisis management firm. "The myth of PR is that you will educate and inform people. No. The public wants to be told in a story who to like and who to hate."

Already suspected by blue-collar America as an elite and effete New Englander, Kerry -- one of the handful of Ivy Leaguers who volunteered to go to Vietnam -- was red meat for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad that cast him as a Yale snot who'd come back from Vietnam to trash his largely working-class troops.

If that sounds audacious, it's because, as Dezenhall says, "We're living in an age of audacity," another fact GOP spinmeisters understand and exploit superbly.

"George Bush communicates in terms of audacity," Dezenhall says. Bush's response to questions about the wiretapping was to say that he's just trying to catch terrorists. Bold motivation, easily understood.

"Democrats communicate in terms of complexity," Dezenhall says, referring to their windy explications of a need to pursue enemies within the rule of law as spelled out in various court ..." (snorrrrrrrrrrre).  [Emphasis added]

So with swiftboating you spread a smear to raise questions with the public about the opponent's patriotism or service. It doesn't have to be true (how quaint) it just has to raise questions. This "neutralizes" the honorable record of or otherwise "discredits" the advantages that opponent has against a Republican with a poor (like George W. Bush's) or no (like Saxby Chambliss or any number of other "chickenhawks") record. 

And, finally, the Republicans have the money and organizational connections to overwhelmingly implement their strategy. According to Open Secrets, in 2004 the Swift Boat Veterans spent $22.5 million, Progress for America $35.6 million and the Bush campaign $345.2 million. This is on top of the huge amount of long-term money spent outside the election cycle by the network of conservative think tanks and business groups promoting conservative ideology and issues, repeating to the public in a thousand different ways and through a thousand different channels that conservatives are good and liberals are bad. (Have you heard that?)

Partially shown in the chart above, the anti-Kerry Swiftboat operation involved the interlocking efforts of "closely associated" Republican Party adjuncts like the Progress For America 527 organization, utilizing Party-affiliated consultants like Chris LaCivita, Merrie Spaeth, Keith Appell, Benjamin Ginsberg, Susan Arcaneaux, and companies like Political Compliance Services, Creative Response Concepts (CRC), DCI Group, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) and The Pinkston Group. Also involved are conservative movement-affiliated media outlets like Media Research Center’s Cybercast News Service (CNS) WorldNetDaily or NewsMax, with Drudge Report, The Washington Times and Fox News operating as echoes and amplifiers to entice the major corporate media to pick up and repeat the smears. 

The February, 2005 New York Times story, A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets, provides an example of how this kind of interlocking smear operation continues, this time supporting the Social Security privatization efforts of the Bush-affiliated organization USA Next: 

"To help set USA Next's strategy, the group has hired Chris LaCivita, an enthusiastic former marine who advised Swift Vets and P.O.W.'s for Truth, formerly known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, on its media campaign and helped write its potent commercials. He earned more than $30,000 for his work, campaign finance filings show. 

Officials said the group is also seeking to hire Rick Reed, a partner at Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a firm that was hired by Swift Vets and was paid more than $276,000 to do media production, records show. 

For public relations, USA Next has turned to Creative Response Concepts, a Virginia firm that represented both Swift Vets - the company was paid more than $165,000 - and Regnery Publishing, the publisher of "Unfit for Command," a book about Senator John Kerry's military service whose co-author was John E. O'Neill, one of the primary leaders of Swift Vets."

You might remember this anti-AARP attack ad, which was one result of this effort. Simple, good vs bad, literally using black-and-white: 

Just recently the tactic was used against the "9/11 widows" who came under attack because they had demanded Congressional oversight of the Bush Administration. In return for asking that Congress do its job they were smeared as "enjoying their husbands' deaths." Note how the attack neutralizes their "strength" – the credibility and sympathy they receive from the public because they lost their husbands. This is ongoing, it followed similar attacks by Rush Limbaugh in 2004.

And now there are attempts to do the same with Congressman John Murtha. In a duplication of the Swift Boat attacks, even including similarly-named websites (since moved to bootmurtha.com), some of the very same people involved1 have regrouped to attack Murtha for coming out in opposition to President Bush's Iraq strategy (or lack thereof). Previously, Rep. Jean Schmidt, the same Republican member of Congress who used swiftboating tactics on candidate Paul Hackett, had called Murtha a "coward" on the floor of the House.   

There is some good "fighting back" news on the Murtha front – saved for later. 

And now there is an election coming, with lots of "Fighting Dems" running for office – and the swiftboaters are back in the water. Here are some examples of the most recent crop of swiftboatings from the same scoundrels. Expect more, watch for it so you’re not surprised, and learn how to FIGHT BACK! 

Christopher A. LaCivita is an example of a professional Republican operative working with the swiftboaters. LaCivita served as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth media strategy advisor.  Previously LaCivita served as the political director for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Executive Director for the Bush-campaign-associated Progress For America organization (founded by 2000 Bush campaign political director Tony Feather). He was an employee of DCI Group when he went to work for the Swiftboat Vets.   

There are conflicting stories about how the group connected with Party professionals like LaCivita. A Richmond Times-Dispatch article (referred to here)2 says:

"Retired Rear Adm. Roy Francis Hoffmann, chairman of the swift-boat group and a virtual neighbor of LaCivita in Chesterfield County ... said CRC (Creative Response Concepts), a public-relations firm in Arlington, put the group in touch with LaCivita. CRC is involved in a number of conservative causes." 

But a Knight Ridder story, Anti-Kerry Veterans' group now political machine with big budget3, reports that major Bush-connected Republican funders enabled the connections, 

"O'Neill said he researched how to form and run [a 527] and got help from Political Compliance Strategies, a suburban Washington organization. Political Compliance Strategies is led by Susan Arceneaux, who was the treasurer of a political action committee associated with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican. [...] Texan Harlan Crow, a trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Fund, which honors the current president's father, gave $25,000 [note, post-election records show the Crow donations as $100-125,000]. Bob J. Perry, a major GOP donor in Texas and a friend of Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, gave $100,000 on June 30, according to a financial report. [Note, according to John O’Neill Perry ultimately gave a total of $7 million.]

"I'm certain some of the people giving us money are doing it because they think this will help their side of the campaign," O'Neill said. "It's probably fair to say the people more likely to help us are Republicans." 
 
With money in hand, the group was able to bring on advisers led by Chris LaCivita, a political strategist and an expert in TV ads. LaCivita had worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002. Last year, he became the executive director of PFA (Progress for America), a Republican-affiliated tax-exempt organization founded by Tony Feather, the political director of Bush's campaign in 2000."

Following the Swift-Boat episode, LaCivita went to work for USA Next, shown above attacking the AARP. 

LaCivita now advises George Allen's Virginia Senate campaign against Jim Webb. And it didn't take long for the swiftboating to begin. But that is also saved for later. 

(And by the way, in that IRS information linked above, was that the same Admiral Roy Hoffman as this one?

"Finance reports filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show Swift Boat contributed $100,000 on February 8, 2006 to an outfit called the Admiral Roy F. Hoffman Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia.  In 2005, the group donated $10,000 to Hoffmans foundation, $100,000 to the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation and spent $132,087 on meeting expenses at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.") 

The Republican firm that employed LaCivita, Feather Larson Synhorst-DCI (FLS-DCI), comes out of the tobacco industry and does work for such clients as the NRA, (helping them after Columbine,) Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the National Pork Producers Council (no comment). For others, see Unsavory DCI Clients:

"… DCI seems willing to work with some of the most controversial clients in the world. In 2002, it received $340,000 for eight months of work for the Union of Myanmar (Burma) State Peace & Development Council. The Washington Post’s Al Kamen wrote, "DCI's filings with the Justice Department offer an unusual glimpse into the efforts by the Rangoon junta. DCI lobbyists, featuring Charles Francis, a longtime family friend of the Bushes, ran a sophisticated campaign to improve the regime's image—and steer the conversation away from its rampant human rights abuses and such."

FLS-DCI is currently running phony "Astroturf" campaigns against net neutrality, using fronts like Responsible Electronic Communications Alliance and Hands Off the Internet. 

And DCI isn’t just using the tactics in politics! They're also using it for corporate clients. (If it works, do it again and again…) From this story, HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS: 

"Houghton Mifflin, publisher of a best-selling children's book critical of the fast-food industry, has brought in Dan Klores Communications to help rebut what it sees as "Swift Boat-Style campaign" attacks on the tome. ... HM sees a "cloud of disinformation" working against the book and orchestrated by the PR firm DCI Group at the behest of the fast-food industry. It has brought in DKC to guide PR for its defense. SVP Ed Tagliaferri heads the work at DKC."

Incidentally, DCI's James Tobin was recently convicted as part of the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming operation. From Talking Points Memo:

"Tobin was the ranking Republican official involved in the New Hampshire phone-jamming operation. An employee of DCI Group at the time of sentencing, he had reported to Chris LaCivita, the NRSC's National Political Director, and to Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Leader."

Keith Appell is an employee of Swift Boat media consultants Creative Response Concepts, former Club for Growth spokesperson and former John Ashcroft campaign consultant. Also, according to the Washington Post:

"But Keith Appell, a well-known Republican media adviser in Washington, said same-sex marriage is issue number one now for social conservatives. He has close ties to people like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Concerned Women for America president Sandy Rios -- the sort of people who can pick up the phone and get Karl Rove at the White House."

Appell was involved with CRC in the Dan Rather Forgeries story. According to the PR Week story, TWO DC FIRMS RAMP UP EFFORTS OVER LATEST PRESIDENTIAL CONTROVERSIES4

"After the CBS story aired, [CNS] called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday," said CRC SVP Keith Appell. "We were immediately in contact with Matt Drudge, who loved the story." CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press." 

So where is Appell now? In May, 2006, Appell joined the John Raese campaign against Senator Robert Byrd. And how long did it take for the swiftboating to begin? Not long: June, 2006, John Raese Approves Dishonest Attack Ad "accusing Senator Robert Byrd of voting against the troops."

Merrie Spaeth, another Republican-connected consultant, was the original Swift Boat media consultant.  How Republican-connected is she? Her husband was George W Bush's Texas running mate in 1994. She had been a Reagan administration press officer, provided debate preparations to George HW Bush, was a volunteer consultant to Ken Starr, advised Wyly brothers Republicans for Clean Air attack on McCain in 2000 – which, incidentally, was funded by some of the same supporters who funded the Swift Boaters.   

Following the Swift Boat episode she wrote the "WORDS MATTER" column distributed by the UPI wire service (owned and operated by the Unification Church, also known as the "Moonies" – who also own The Washington Times, Insight Magazine and World & I Magazine, but that's a topic for a whole other article), and is listed for speaking engagements at Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau, asking $5-10,000 per event. She was also added as a commenter on public broadcasting in June of 2005.

Ms. Spaeth showed up in several news stories posing as a "friend" of Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Meirs, naturally without being identified as a long-time Republican PR professional.   

Rick Reed of Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) was hired by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And what have they been up to, you ask? Working with LaCivita at USA Next, for one. From Maine Firm to Help "Dynamite" Opposition to Social Security Privatization:

"The Maine connection comes through Rick Reed, partner at the Maine firm Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm who USA Next is attempting to hire." 

And SRCP is continuing to otherwise stir up trouble. March 2005: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Speak Out Against Misleading Driver’s License TV Ad:

"Recently, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, released a television advertisement [created by Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm] regarding the issue of illegal immigrants' access to photo IDs and drivers' licenses. The advertisement incorrectly conflates the issues of immigration and national security while also inflaming fears about Arabs, Muslims, and Arab-Americans. In effect, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License utilizes anti-terrorism rhetoric to push their anti-immigration agenda."

For 2006 campaign SRCP has signed up with two Ohio Republicans, Craig Foltin and Frank Guglielmi, and sending a media consultant with the Ray Meier campaign in New York. Swiftboating is sure to follow.

The Donateli Group reappeared with the Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN). Additionally, a Kos diary informs us that "JCN has also hired Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the public-relations firm that "advised Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" with, Hughes for America informs us: Ohio's notorious Ken Blackwell acting as spokeman.

Most recently, Donateli is connected with Vets for Freedom, a Bush support group that condemns Rep. John Murtha.

These are examples of some of the better-known Republican swiftboaters, how they work, what they’ve done and what they’re doing now. Meanwhile, of course, "conservative-movement" outlets like Media Research Center's Cybercast News Service and other echo outfits like NewsMax, Washington Times and WorldNetDaily will be ready to spread the poison as it's produced. 

So how DO we fight back? They'll keep doing this as long as it works. But maybe Jim Webb is showing us one way to make it stop working. 

This is what was saved for later. These are examples of fighting back! With Chris LaCivita involved in Virginia’s George Allen Senate campaign, it didn't take long before the swiftboating began, with the campaign attacking Jim Webb’s patriotism. But the Webb campaign was ready. From Webb Rips into Allen over flag:

"George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag burning," Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said in a press release. "Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run. 
 
"When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb, they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards." 
 
Webb was a Marine in Vietnam, serving as a rifle-platoon leader and company commander. He received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, Jarding noted. 

… "This is straight out of the Republican playbook ... taking a candidate's strength and trying to turn it into a weakness," Denny Todd said. "It's what Chris LaCivita did with Swift Boats against John Kerry." 
 
LaCivita helped orchestrate the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attacks during the 2004 Bush campaign. He now works for Allen. 
 
"It's been said that Democrats aren't willing to fight back in campaigns," Denny Todd said. "Well, we're willing. We're not letting them get away with it." 

… "While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada," Jarding said. "People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield."

[. . .] Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, agreed with Sabato. "It's said the best defense is a good offense and it's clear Webb isn't going to be bullied like John Kerry was two years ago," Farnsworth said." 

Now THAT is powerful. As discussed earlier, the swiftboating tactic is based on a strong offense, surprise, extreme audacity and a dependence on the media repeating the charges. With a very strong, fighting response, Jim Webb has found one answer. Webb was ready to fight back with a strategy in place. He fought back immediately with a strong counter-punch. He exposed the plot, describing the "playbook" strategy and naming the players. He exposed the weaknesses the Allen campaign was trying to distract people from. And he gave the media a simple, good vs. evil storyline about the swiftboating playbook and Democrats fighting back.

And, as Taylor Marsh wrote just a few days ago in The Swiftboating of John Murtha at Patriot Project, there is also an ongoing attempt to swiftboat Representative John Murtha for questioning the wisdom of President Bush's Iraq policies. But bloggers and others fought back, exposing the tactic and exposing that so many of the same people and organizations were involved. As discussed above, the Republicans desperately need distractions and misdirections to turn the public's and media’s eyes away from their own foreign policy and national security weaknesses. But this time we have been getting ready, and information about the swiftboaters is available. Because we have started fighting back and exposing the swiftboaters, the stealth and surprise of the tactic are blunted. As the bloggers and organizations like Patriot Project continue their work, exposing and fighting back, maybe – just maybe – we can beat this.

Dave Johnson
Dave Johnson is the lead blogger at Seeing the Forest and a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute, where he studies the conservative movement’s network of foundations and think tanks and the extent of their influence on American society.


[1] Richmond-Times Dispatch on LaCivita introduction to SBVFT available on Nexis, but is referred to here: http://www.augustafreepress.com/stories/storyReader$25489

[2] Knight Ridder, Sept 12, 2004, at http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1:121841720/Anti-Kerry+Veterans+group+now+political+machine+with+big+budget.html?refid=SEO

[3] DCI using swiftboating for a corporate client: HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS, Dyer’s PR Daily, June 2, 2006, members only: http://www.odwyepr.com/members/0602mifflin.htm.  Available on Nexis.

[4] PRWeek: can be seen at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1219349/posts

Posted by Dave Johnson at July 18, 2006 10:21 AM

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Comments

Absolutely fantastic post, collating much of the information out there and laying it out in a very comprehensive fashion.

Posted by: Batocchio [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 18, 2006 11:50 AM

It is a fabulous report, and a real public service to have pulled together all this information.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 18, 2006 4:57 PM

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