07/25/2007 07:49 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Swift Boat 2004 vs. 'Swift Boat' 2008

The press seems to be meeting conservatives halfway by now drastically watering down the implications of the Swift Boat attackers and using the Swift Boat tag in a loose and imprecise manner. For the Beltway press, Swift Boat has simply become a lazy catch-all phrase to describe coordinated, negative campaign attacks. Ones that try to take a candidate's perceived strength and turn it into a weakness.

News consumers are told that's what the Swift Boat Vets did to Kerry's Vietnam record, and that's what the International Association of Fire Fighters is trying to do with Rudy Giuliani's much-touted 9-11 resumé. The problem with that analogy is that it completely ignores what set the Swift Boat Vets apart: They manufactured nearly every claim they made about Kerry.

Read the full Media Matters column here.