By and large, I think Koppel is one of the more balanced reporters in the big media. I also think, a minute tilt to the left aside, he is one of the best. That said, he got his hat handed to him by John O’Neil of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
For only the third time since the Swift Vets formed their organization, Nightline did a story on Kerry’s war record. You can read the bulk of their report here. In this show, they went to Vietnam and interviewed the Vietnamese in the village where John Kerry got his Silver Star. [That was the one where a rocket hit close to Kerry’s boat and he supposedly attacked, beaching the boat, jumped out and killed the guy with the rocket launcher.]
It promised to be intriguing. Rather than Kerry’s side or the Swifies’ side, they were going to get the story from people who did not have a dog in the fight. Unfortunately, the reporting was not as good as it could have been and left one of the major questions not only unanswered but even unasked.
The citation for his Silver Star commends Kerry for, “extraordinary daring and personal courage” for “attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire” as he beached his boat and went ashore. John O’Neil in his book, Unfit for Command, says that statement “is simply false. There was little or no fire.” [When Kerry attacked]
Nightline fails to resolve the issue, mostly because they don’t even ask the right question. From their report:
Villagers say this is what they saw:
“Firing from over here. Firing from over there. Firing from the boat,” [hands waving left and right as if to say firing from everywhere in video] Vo Thi Vi told Nightline.
She was only a couple hundred yards away when a Swift boat turned and approached the shore, she said, adding that the boat was unleashing a barrage of gunfire as it approached.
“I ran,” she recalled, “Running fast.