Swift Boat Vets Inspired a Term for "Smearing a Political Opponent with Lies"

Charlie Savage is not happy with a new anti-Sonia Sotomayor ad with a tie to the campaign against John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

In his Wednesday afternoon "Caucus" post on nytimes.com, "Conservative Ad Accuses Sotomayor of Supporting Terrorists," legal reporter Charlie Savage used a new anti-Sotomayor ad from the Committee for Justice to smear the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

Taking advantage of the fact that the new ad was written by someone alsoinvolved in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign in 2004, Savage applied the same "unsubstantiated charges" template the Times used to attack the Swift Boat Veterans but went even further, all but calling the group's charges "lies."

Yet none of the allegations raised by the Swift Boat Vets were shown to be false, while at least one was shown to be true: Kerry's campaign admitted that he did not spend Christmas 1968 in Cambodia, as he had long claimed.

Savage wrote:

A leading conservative legal advocacy group that has a played a prominent role in the debate over the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor has created a new ad accusing her of supporting violent terrorists and comparing her to former Weatherman Bill Ayers.

The Committee for Justice, whose executive director, Curt Levey, has frequently appeared on television and in newspaper articles criticizing Judge Sotomayor,unveiled the ad on its Web site late Tuesday. Mr. Levey said his group has not yet decided whether to pay to air it on television.

In the ad, a woman's voice says:

Remember Barack Obama's buddy Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist who bombed American buildings in the 70's? Turns out President Obama's done it again - picked someone for the Supreme Court - Judge Sonia Sotomayor - who led a group supporting violent Puerto Rican terrorists. Is this radical judge the type of person America needs sitting on our highest court? What was he thinking? What was she thinking? Call your senators. Tell them to stop Sonia Sotomayor. Paid for by the Committee for Justice.

At one point, the ad also shows a picture of Judge Sotomayor alongside the text: "SUPPORTED VIOLENT TERRORISTS."

Mr. Levey said the ad was written by Chris LaCivita, who also helped create the Swift Boat Vets for Truth ads against Senator John F. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. The Swift Boat ads were riddled with unsubstantiated charges and led to a new political term for smearing a political opponent with lies: "swift-boating."

Savage then quoted Levey defending the ad as "factually true" and explained the background of the charge.