To this day, Kerry continues to fight the baseless charges from the Swift Boat henchmen. Greg Sargent recently wrote:
To the extent that the Swift Boat Liars were effective -- and that's in dispute -- it wasn't just because of their spending on ads. It was because the media amplified those charges for days and days, if not weeks, without examining them critically. When the press did get around to debunking the charges whatever damage there was had already been done. The media tried to shift blame for this to Kerry by arguing that he'd failed to respond aggressively. But here's the point: The press shouldn't have had to wait for Kerry to start hitting back before it started to report critically on what the Swift Boat Liars were saying. The simple fact that the media was amplifying the charges should alone have obligated them to take a critical look at them -- immediately.
One of the key themes of this blog will be that a big problem with political reporting today is that its practitioners simply refuse to acknowledge their own role in shaping public perceptions. Thus it is that this Times piece can blithely observe that "the charges stuck" as if this happened by magic, when in fact the real reason this happened is that the media simply failed to be skeptical and aggressive at an absolutely critical moment. That failure, of course, is one of the reasons that Kerry is still a Senator -- and is still battling the Swifties today.