But the life-altering experience of Christmas in Cambodia apparently never happened. It was a Kerry fantasy. The press yawned and looked the other way. Kerry said he entered Cambodia with a CIA agent. But how likely is it that the CIA would choose to penetrate an illegal area with a clunky, noisy boat commanded by someone as inexperienced as Kerry?
Soon the words "discredited" and "debunked" began to describe the Swifty charges in news reports and commentary. Some Swifty allegations were indeed wildly out of line. But not all. Kerry got his first Purple Heart after alleged hostile fire, but nine days later he wrote in his journal, "We hadn't been shot at yet." No witnesses have come forward to tell us how Kerry's first Purple Heart came to be issued. Then there was the mysterious third version of the Silver Star citation, an improved and glowing one that appeared late and that John Lehman, secretary of the Navy, said he didn't write or order to be written. Nobody came forward to explain how or why the citation improved over the years. Kerry refused to make public his journal or his military records, and the media seemed uninterested in pushing for him to do so. (Compare this with the energetic media demands for Bush's National Guard records.) Apparently only one media outlet, the Washington Post, made an effort to open up Kerry's records and received only six of 100 pages. On the whole, big-time media reporting on the Swifties was dismal. No wonder the credibility of the news media is headed south.