TEXT of letter retyped from
fax; fax courtesy of Human Events.
August 5, 2004
Re: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
Dear Station Manager:
We are counsel to the Democratic
National Committee and John Kerry, respectively. It has been
brought to our attention that a group calling itself "Swift Boat
Veterans for Truth" has bought time, or may seek to buy time, on your
station to air an advertisement that attacks Senator Kerry.
The advertisement contains statements by men who purport to have served
on Senator Kerry's SWIFT Boat in Vietnam, and one statement by a man
pretending to be the doctor who treated Senator Kerry for one of his
injuries. In fact, not a single one of the men who
pretend to have served with Senator Kerry was actually a crewmate of
Senator Kerry's and the man pretending to be his doctor was not.
The entire advertisement, therefore is an inflammatory, outrageous lie.
"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" styles
itself as a group of individuals who personally served with John Kerry
in the United States Navy in the Vietnam War. In truth the group
is a sham organization spearheaded by a Texas corporate media
consultant. It has been financed largely with funds from a
Houston homebuilder. See Slater, Dallas Morning News,
July 23, 2004.
In this group's advertisement, twelve
men appear to make statements about Senator Kerry's service in
Vietnam. Not a single one of these men served on either of
Senator Kerry's two SWIFT Boats (PCF 44 & PCF94).
Further, the "doctor" who appears in
the ad, Louis Letson, was not a crewmate of Senator Kerry's and was not
the doctor who actually signed Senator Kerry's sick call sheet.
In fact, another physician actually signed Senator Kerry's sick call
sheet. Letson is not listed on any document as having treated
Senator Kerry after the December 2, 1968 firefight. Moreover,
according to news accounts, Letson did not record his "memories" of
that incident until after Senator Kerry became a candidate for
President in 2003. (National Review Online, May 4, 2004).
The statements made by the phony
"crewmates" and "doctor" who appear in the advertisement are also
totally, demonstrably and unequivocally false, and libelous. In
parrticular, the advertisement charges that Senator Kerry "lied to get
his Bronze Star." Just as falsely, it states that "he lied before
the Senate." These are serious allegations of actual crimes --
specifically, of lying to the United States Government in the conduct
of its official business. The events for which the Senator was
awarded the Bronze Star have been documented repeatedly and in detail
and are set out in the official citation signed by the Secretary of the
Navy and the Commander of U.S. Forces in Vietnam. And yet these
reckless charges of criminal conduct are offered without support or
authentication, by fake "witnesses" speaking on behalf of a phony
Your station is not obligated to accept
this advertisement for broadcast nor is it required to account in any
way for its decision to reject such an advertisement. Columbia
Broadcasting System v. Democratic National Committee, 412 U.S. 94
(1973), You Can't Afford Dodd Committee, 81 FCC2d 579
(1980). The so-called "Swift Boat Veterans" organization is not a
federal candidate or candidate committee. Repeated efforts by
organizations that are not candidate committees to obtain a private
right of access have been consistently rejected by the FCC. See
e.g., National Conservative Political Action Committee, 89 FCC2d
Thus, your station my freely refuse
this advertisement. Because your station has this freedom, and
because it is not a "use" of your facilities by a clearly identified
candidate, your station is responsible for the false and libelous
charges made by this sponsor.
Moreover, as a licensee, you have an
overriding duty "to protect the public from false, misleading or
deceptive advertising." Licensee Responsibility With Respect
to the Broadcast of False, Misleading or Deceptive Advertising, 74
F.C.D.2d 623 (1961). Your station normally must take "reasonable
steps" to satisfy itself "as to the reliability and reputation of every
prospective advertiser." In re Complaint by Consumers
Assocation of District of Columbia, 32 F.C.C.2d 400, 405 (1971).
Under these circumstances, your station
may not responsibly air this advertisement. We request that your
station act immmediately to prevent broadcasts of this advertisement
and deny andy future sale of time. Knowing that the advertisement
is false, and possessing the legal authority to refuse to run it, your
station should exercise that authority in the public interest.
Please contact us promptly at either of
the phone numbers below to advise us regarding the status of this
607 14th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
[phone number omitted]
Sandler, Reiff & Young
50 E Street, S.E. #300
Washington, D.C. 20003
[phone number omitted]
Democratic National Committee