What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 1, 2013

Mayor Luke's Swiftboating Friends

Let's start here, with Bob Mayo of WTAE:
Campaign finance reports filed with Allegheny County's Elections Division and the Pennsylvania Department of state indicate that the group behind an attack ad in the Pittsburgh mayor's race has past ties to Mayor Ravenstahl's now shut down reelection campaign.

The TV spot begins with an announcer saying "Bill Peduto wants to be Mayor of Pittsburgh, but Peduto only seems to care about his own district". The attack ad charges that Peduto was against helping Homewood seniors, Hill District development, and a living wage -- claims he denies. Peduto says "it's an outside group lurking in the shadows that's trying to determine who the next Mayor of Pittsburgh is". Peduto is one of four people competing in the spring primary to run as the Democratic mayoral candidate in the fall.

The Repubican-aligned agency hired to make the ad also created the 'Swiftboat' ads against Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry -- a third-party attack ad that hurt Jerry's run for president. The anti-Peduto ad's fine print says it's paid for by a "Committee for a Better Pittsburgh".
You can read the Peduto Campaign's response to the Swiftboat ad here.

But that's not the part of the story I want to look at.  Mayo mentions how "The Repubican-aligned agency hired to make the ad also created the 'Swiftboat' ads" but doesn't mention the name.

From this document posted at the P-G, we learn the name: SRCP Media.  So Luke's "Committee for a Better Pittsburgh" hired SRCP for the Peduto ad.

So how did they do on the Kerry Swiftboat stuff?

As of this morning this ad is still posted at SRCP's "Presidential work" page.  I guess they're still proud of it.  I guess they still think it's good work.

It isn't.  Factcheck.org took a look at the ad and found it wanting.  Here is their summary of the ad:
A group funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas began running an attack ad Aug. 5 in which former Swift Boat veterans claim Kerry lied to get one of his two decorations for bravery and two of his three purple hearts. But the veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen, and by Navy records.

One of the accusers says he was on another boat "a few yards" away during the incident which won Kerry the Bronze Star, but the former Army lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water that day backs Kerry's account. In an Aug. 10 opinion piece in the conservative Wall Street Journal, Rassmann (a Republican himself) wrote that the ad was "launched by people without decency" who are "lying" and "should hang their heads in shame."

And on Aug. 19, Navy records came to light also contradicting the accusers. One of the veterans who says Kerry wasn't under fire was himself awarded a Bronze Star for aiding others "in the face of enemy fire" during the same incident.
Factcheck takes spends a lot of time on the (now debunked) account of then-Captain George Elliot:
Several of those who appear in the ad have signed brief affidavits, and we have posted some of them in the "supporting documents" section to the right for our visitors to evaluate for themselves.

One of those affidavits, signed by George Elliott, quickly became controversial. Elliott is the retired Navy captain who had recommended Kerry for his highest decoration for valor, the Silver Star, which was awarded for events of Feb. 28, 1969, when Kerry beached his boat in the face of an enemy ambush and then pursued and killed an enemy soldier on the shore.

Elliott, who had been Kerry's commanding officer, was quoted by the Boston Globe Aug 6 as saying he had made a "terrible mistake" in signing the affidavit against Kerry, in which Elliott suggested Kerry hadn't told him the truth about how he killed the enemy soldier. Later Elliott signed a second affidavit saying he still stands by the words in the TV ad. But Elliott also made what he called an "immaterial clarification" - saying he has no first-hand information that Kerry was less than forthright about what he did to win the Silver Star.

What Elliott said in the ad is that Kerry "has not been honest about what happened in Viet Nam." In his original affidavit Elliott said Kerry had not been "forthright" in Vietnam. The only example he offered of Kerry not being "honest" or "forthright" was this: "For example, in connection with his Silver Star, I was never informed that he had simply shot a wounded, fleeing Viet Cong in the back.
Factcheck points out a BIG problem with that last part:
The official citations show Kerry was not awarded the Silver Star "for simply pursuing and dispatching" the Viet Cong. In fact, the killing is not even mentioned in two of the three versions of the official citation (see "supporting documents" at right.) The citations - based on what Elliott wrote up at the time - dwell mostly on Kerry's decision to attack rather than flee from two ambushes, including one in which he led a landing party.
In the end, Senator John McCain summed up the ad still being used to polish SRCP's conservative street cred:
I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crewmates have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam.
Why am I spending so much time on this one ad?

Because I want everyone to remember that Luke Ravenstahl's "Committee for a Better Pittsburgh" purchased an ad smearing Bill Peduto from the same folks who produced the dishonest and dishonorable ad that smeared then-Senator and now-Secretary of State John Kerry.

You think they suddenly found religion and became honest and honorable?

Yea, I don't either.

1 comment:

Heir to the Throne said...

Still waiting to see the John Kerry Navy service records cited by the factcheck article as debunking the swiftboat ads.

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