The Legacy Of 'Swiftboat'

Since the political smear campaign of 2004, the term has come into common use.
07/02/2017 12:37 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2017

John Kerry ran for president. Some of you remember that. And for a year, I worked with a talented group of filmmakers and producers to make a film about what we at the time believed would be a winning campaign for the presidency.

The result was “Inside the Bubble,” a documentary film on the 2004 campaign.

And while political prognosticators can debate the reason why Kerry Lost to George Bush in 2004, there’s one word that comes up in most of the analysis: Swiftboat.

Here’s a clip from the film to bring you up to speed:

“Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” produced the ad and created the smear that Kerry and his team never effectively pushed back. Since then, the term swiftboating has been used to describe an unfair or untrue political attack.

Fox News Radio host John Gibson has since written “How the Left Swiftboated America,” taking the right’s own term and pointing at the opposition. In the book, he defines swiftboating as “the political trick of claiming to expose truth while in fact lying,” and “used as a verb, came to mean just that: undermining character and credibility, no matter whether the charges are accurate.” Gibson attributes the origin and definition of the word to “the left,” according to Wikipedia.

Since the political smear campaign of 2004, the term has come into common use to refer to a harsh attack by a political opponent that is dishonest, personal, and unfair.

Here’s the entire film ― relive 2004 and decide for yourself.

The film was edited by Daniel Luskin and Waleed Zaiter. The filmmakers in the field were Kate Cunningham and Doug Davis.

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