The producer of a documentary critical of John Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War activity predicts the controversy surrounding the airing of his film on television will lead to some kind of apology by the Massachusetts senator for his 1971 war-crimes accusations against U.S. soldiers.
But Carlton Sherwood, a decorated Vietnam veteran and maker of “Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal,” said in an interview with WorldNetDaily being sorry is not enough.
“What he did was so reprehensible, so disgraceful, an apology isn’t going to get it done,” he said. “It’s unprecedented in our history what he did. I can’t find anything remotely like this, turning that kind of betrayal into a political career.”
But Sherwood said as controversy grows over the broadcast of the film by the 62-station Sinclair Broadcasting group, he’s willing to “put money” on the probability of Kerry making an attempt to apologize in order to remove the issue from the campaign.
What most veterans really want, Sherwood said, isn’t likely to happen.
“I want him to stand up there and say, ‘We lied for two-and-a-half hours to the Senate [in 1971]; I was an agent for the Viet Cong; I didn’t care who I slandered, living and dead; it’s all about me. This is the way I launched my political career.”
Instead, he expects Kerry “to pull out his little ‘Band of Brothers,’” men who served with him on his two swiftboats and now support his campaign, and offer a “weepy-eyed” apology.
As WorldNetDaily first reported, the 42-minute documentary presents former POWs who tell how Kerry’s 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was used as propaganda against them by their North Vietnamese captors, intensifying their persecution and possibly prolonging imprisonment.
Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael J. Copps issued a statement calling Sinclair’s plan an “abuse of the public trust.”
The station group, which reaches about 24 percent of U.S. households and is known for its conservative commentaries, has coverage in crucial battleground states.
The FCC has received a letter from 18 Democratic senators urging an investigation into Sinclair’s decision, and the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, arguing Sinclair’s broadcast would be an illegal contribution to President Bush’s campaign.
Sherwood told WND the “fact that this has turned into a First Amendment issue is absurd.”
“This is a news documentary, a historical documentary based entirely on John Kerry’s known public activities and public testimony,” he said. “It doesn’t swerve from that.”
“Nobody is questioning a single word in this, in terms of accuracy and facts,” he said, “and yet people are saying, ‘Let’s spike this thing.’”
Sherwood called the effort to stop airing of the film “out and out thuggery.”
Yesterday, Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton issued a veiled threat to Sinclair on the Fox News program “Dayside with Linda Vester.”
“I think they are going to regret doing this, and they had better hope we don’t win,” Clanton said.
Sherwood said a Kerry operative tried to disrupt the rollout of the documentary three weeks ago.
Wayne Smith, an ex-convict, came to the Sept. 9 media event with press credentials, but instead of asking questions, began ranting against the film, POWs and President Bush, said Sherwood.
Smith, who had served time for manslaughter in a fatal shooting, was confirmed to be a staff member of the Democratic National Committee, with a phone extension and office, by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
“Kerry has nothing but thugs out there,” he said. “They can threaten, they can coerce, they can cajole — Can you imagine 18 senators demanding censorship and getting away with it? If a single Republican anywhere attempted to do that, the press would be apoplectic.”
Some have criticized his timing, just weeks before the election, but Sherwood says if the mainstream media would have done its job back in April or May, he wouldn’t have had to produce the film.
Sinclair has invited Kerry to be part of the television program to respond to the documentary, but the campaign has refused, calling the film “lies” and a “smear.”
Sherwood said, however, if he were Kerry, he wouldn’t show up either.
“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” he said of the POW testimonies. “When you look at these men, you cannot doubt what they are saying. I certainly would not want to sit across the table and answer for what he did to all of us.”
“This man has caused a lot of pain and suffering, and I think he should be held accountable,” Sherwood added.
He sees a “tidal wave of anger and resentment” toward Kerry by Vietnam veterans but says there is “not a single one who wants to be out there doing this,” including himself.
“They are doing it because they are compelled to do it,” Sherwood said. “There is not a showboater in the bunch. They are doing it out of personal conviction. I am doing it out of personal conviction.”
Sherwood emphasized he has been registered as an independent for 30 years and, as a journalist, does not make campaign contributions. He said he’s received no political money or assistance from the Bush campaign, and “every dime” goes back into distribution of copies of the film.
He estimates about 10,000 copies have been sold and another 30,000 have been given away.
Lately, his effort has received promotional help from Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth, the 527 group that has criticized Kerry both for his war service and anti-war activities.
“Underlying resentment” toward Kerry’s “betrayal” of American soldiers has bound them together, he said.
“There has always been a commonality of purpose in that regard,” he said. “I’m sure there are other groups of Vietnam combat veterans who will join in on this before it is all over.”
Sherwood won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting of a Catholic scandal involving the Pauline Fathers of Doylestown, Pa. He also is known for his inside investigation of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Sherwood said he entered the probe hoping to uncover dirt about the leader but ended up concluding Moon and his followers “were and continued to be the victims of the worst kind of religious prejudice and racial bigotry this country has witnessed in over a century.”