By John Stauber on August 11, 2006

The Republican lobby group Vets for Freedom is the 2006 equivalent of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the Republican 527 committee whose attack advertisements in battleground states helped sink John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race by smearing him as a phony war hero and a traitor to his country.

Vets for Freedom (VFF) made lame claims to be "non-partisan" when in early 2006 it first appeared out of the blue online and in op-ed pieces in the New York Times and other major papers and in TV interviews. An investigation of the group by citizen journalists at SourceWatch and by the Buffalo News blew the VFF claim of non-partisanship out of the water. For instance, the Buffalo News revealed in June that former White House flack Taylor Gross, who left Scott McClellan's office in 2005 to start his own PR firm, represented VFF and pitched them to papers as non-partisan journalists who would embed for these newspapers and report accurately and cheaply for them from Iraq. Now the camouflage has fallen completely off. Vets for Freedom has registered itself as a 527 committee and is going to run a full page advertisement in Connecticut's Hartford Courant on behalf of Joe Lieberman's renegade run for re-election to the US Senate as a 'stay the course in Iraq' candidate.

The Wall Street Journal reports that VFF is being handled now by Republican strategist Dan Senor and that it "hopes to run other print and radio ads in the fall, and is also planning on campaign door-to-door for Mr. Lieberman and holding a rally on his behalf."

Connecticut is a heavily Democratic state, and normally any Democrat who wins the nomination would be expected to cruise to victory in the general election this November. However, Lieberman's refusal to bow out after losing to Ned Lamont in last Tuesday's primary creates a window of opportunity for a Republican victory. By supporting Lieberman, the Republicans hope to split the Democratic vote so that their candidate can get elected. This strategy is bound to produce an ugly and divisive political campaign, another advantage for the Republican cause nationally as Tony Snow and others in the White House paint pro-peace Democrats as a party of appeasement in the war on terror.

White House strategist Karl Rove has made clear his strategy for Republican victory in November is to run on the war in Iraq. For him VFF and similar groups such as Melanie Morgan's PR creation Move America Forward, are weapons on his political chessboard. Rove phoned Lieberman on Tuesday as Democrat voters were turning thumbs down on Lieberman for his pro-Bush cheerleading on Iraq. Karl Rove denies he offered help to Lieberman, but the battlefield arrival of VFF shows that Republican troops for Lieberman are already on the ground and firing at will.


John Stauber is the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy and the co-author with Sheldon Rampton of the forthcoming book The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq, to be published September 14, 2006, by Penguin.

John Stauber

In 1993, John Stauber founded the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and its magazine, PR Watch, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Comments

In your article, you state that the SBVFT attacks against Senator Kerry were "Smears." In light of revelations regarding Kerry lies about Cambodian excursions, CIA/covert operations and multiple Vietnam "tours," it would seem to me that you fit into the category of the Pot calling the kettle, Black! The absolute truth of the accusations against Kerry is that, for the most part, they REMAIN UNRESOLVED. Which is to say that neither side has been able to produce definitive evidence to support their position. Any claim to the contrary is patently dishonest.
The FACT is that the Navy Department declined to investigate the accusations against Senator Kerry. Opting, instead, to confine their comments to weather the paperwork for Kerry's decorations were in order. No other judgment, of any kind, was decided by the Navy's Inspector Generals Office.
When a group, such as yours, promotes itself as "The CENTER for media and Democracy," I think you should make an effort to be little more honest. At the very least, you should get your FACTS straight.

Hey, it's over. The whole world knows that the SBVFT is a scam so why
not join reality and become a reasonable person but then you're probably not interested in the truth. You just want to scam as many as you can to support your addiction to BS, money and power. In other words I think you're just a plant and not really anything but a liar,
hypocrit and NEO-CON scumbag pulled out of GW's pokmemon.

age enhances wisdom, sometimes.

I don't know the poster to who you're responding, heck, I don't know you.

But one of the reasons I keep coming back to Sourcewatch and affiliates is the goal of blowing away the smokescreen generated by the noise machine.

I think you're probably correct, as I've quoted you on the subject line. The only thing needed for a successful conjob as they pulled off is establishing control of our perception long enough to manage through the critical decision period. Doesn't matter if the assertion is true since it's only gotta float long enough to tweak Americans' perceptions in the 'right' direction.

That's why so many thank God for our short attention span. Hell, remember Scanlon's prescription for the 'wackos' Reed delivered to their services, God's a great tool too!

I think some people didn't get the followup message about not needing to resolve the allegations: Hey, it's over. 'Mission accomplished!'

ePluribus Media. Genuinely homegrown, want to help research, edit, fact-check or write? Just talk about it in the ePluribus Community.

http://www.vetsforfreedom.org/news/courant.aspx

*Jon Lender, [http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-senate0815.artaug15,0,1333902.story?coll=hc-headlines-politics-state "'Vets For Freedom' Creates Stir. Group With GOP Ties Backs Lieberman; White House Declines To Endorse Schlesinger,"] ''Hartford Courtant'' (CT), August 15, 2006.

*Brian Lockhart, [http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/local/scn-sa-nor.vets2aug15,0,4908456.story?coll=stam-news-local-headlines "Iraq veterans group supports Lieberman,"] ''The Advocate'' (Stamford, CT), August 15, 2006.

*Jonathan Darman, [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14323596/page/2/ "Campaign 2006: A Hawk Stays Aloft. The politics of terror may just keep Joe Lieberman in office,"] ''Newsweek'' (MSNBC), August 21-28, 2006 (issue).

Given that the RNC is moving its operatives to support Lieberman, I think you all'd be interested in some work we did last week at ePluribusMedia.

This is the teaser I've used to point folks at the article which tracked the events we documented as Lieberman's fate rolled out of the primary.

When Karl Rove mixes it up with Becki Donatelli @ Campaign Solutions, what do you get? A sloppy kiss by proxy?!

Five days before the CT primary, registration of the key domains.

The night Joe Lieberman happily concedes and announces his run as an independent Democrat, ISupportJoe.com shows up briefly on Donatelli's IP address and then gets moved to a cheap domain hoster presumably to put it some distance from the obviously GOP operative.

Check out ISupportJoe.com - Sealed with a Kiss: Lieberman's "Roving" Independence at ePluribusMedia.


ePluribus Media. Genuinely homegrown, want to help research, edit, fact-check or write? Just talk about it in the ePluribus Community.

Extending our first report of "ISupportJoe", Sealed with a KISS: Strange Bedfellows, Joe Lieberman and the GOP established a nearterm chronology of events coinciding with ISupportJoe.com's brief life as a Republican assigned to campaignsolutions.com IP address on the day of the CT primary.

click for article

Public support by VFF for Lieberman and timing of these events close to GOP signals favoring his run as an 'indie' suggest that Joe may have been 'networking' the issues for some time in front of his defeat in the primary. In Strange Bedfellows, we address some of the possible political and strategic stakes in consideration behind the scenes.


ePluribus Media. Genuinely homegrown, want to help research, edit, fact-check or write? Just talk about it in the ePluribus Community.