Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal is a movie that criticizes the behavior of U.S. Presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry on his return from Vietnam.

Produced through Red, White & Blue Productions, Inc. by journalist, Vietnam War veteran, and private military corporation executive Carlton Sherwood, the video was released in September 2004. It features interviews with a number of American men who were prisoners of war in North Vietnam, who complain they suffered increased maltreatment while prisoners as a direct result of John Kerry's Fulbright Hearing testimony in April 1971. However, it is not known if the movie offers any hard evidence that Kerry's 1971 testimony had an adverse effect on prisoner treatment, or on the length or outcome of the conflict.

Decision by Sinclair Broadcast Group to broadcast 'Stolen Honor'

In early October 2004, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., which owns television stations in nearly one-quarter of the United States, ordered all of its stations to preempt their regular programming and air Stolen Honor in the days leading up to the November 2 presidential election.[1] This has raised concerns that such a direct criticism of Kerry would violate the "equal time" provision of the Communications Act that governs airtime for political candidates. FCC chairman Michael Powell has declared that such an action would not be a violation of the provision. A former FCC chairman, Reed Hundt, responded that Powell was offering "tacit and plain encouragement of the use of the Sinclair airwaves to pursue a smear campaign." A spokesperson for the company said that the airing would be followed by a panel discussion, which Senator Kerry would be asked to join, possibly as an effort to satisfy the equal time clause. The Kerry campaign declined the invitation. Sinclair did not accept Michael Moore's offer for free broadcast of his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 to satisfy the equal time clause.

More than 100 Democratic members of the United States Congress asked the FCC to consider the propriety of the broadcast, and Ted Kennedy, Kerry's Senate colleague from Massachusetts, asked the Justice Department to investigate. The Democratic National Committee filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Media Matters for America headed a shareholder action against "demanding that Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., provide equal time to those "with views opposed to the allegations" in the film. [2]

Ultimately, Sinclair dropped its plans to run the film in its entirety, instead airing a "news special" to be "produced with the highest journalistic standards and integrity."[3] That special included clips from Stolen Honor as well as the pro-Kerry film Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry.[4]

Descriptions of the film from its own website

  • "Stolen Honor investigates how John Kerry's actions during the Vietnam era impacted the treatment of American soldiers and POWs. Using John Kerry's own words, the documentary juxtaposes John Kerry's actions with the words of veterans who were still in Vietnam when John Kerry was leading the anti-war movement." [5]
  • "In mere moments, Kerry had willingly given the Vietnamese Communists what they had spent years of torture and blood-letting to drag out of their American hostages, an unqualified 'confession' they were all war criminals." [6]

The evidence however indicates that only SOME, not ALL, of the activity in the region was criminal. While most U.S. military personnel served their country with pride and distinction, some did not. The fact of this was related by John Kerry to the Senate committee in order to correct several conditions within the military and government operations of the time which were unfortunate for the soldiers. Kerry spoke of "war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." [7]

Furthermore, the Kerry testimony was not "unqualified", and it was not a "confession".

Other descriptions of the film and those involved with it

Mark Nevins, a spokesman for the Kerry presidential campaign, stated, "This group is the poor, distant cousin of the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush. It's comprised of people with questionable backgrounds whose sole mission in life is to smear John Kerry." [8] (Nevins was making a derisive reference to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a pro-Bush organization.)

According to conservative commentator Deroy Murdock, "It presents POWs who argue that John Kerry's fallacious spring 1971 claims that U.S. atrocities occurred 'on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command' amplified their agony under America's North Vietnamese enemies." [9]

Kerry's claims, or more accurately, the testimonies of the Winter Soldier Investigation, for which Kerry did not testify, may be disputed, but they have not been discredited. [10]

A review of the film by Media Matters for America found that it was "filled with lies and smears against Senator John Kerry."[11]


"Stolen Honor" is produced by Carlton A. Sherwood, a journalist and former Reagan administration appointee [12]. Sherwood is Executive Vice President and Director of Communications of the WVC3 Group, Inc., a Private Military Corporation headquartered in Reston, VA [13]. In June 2004 he established a company called Red, White & Blue Productions, Inc. in order to produce the movie. [14]

Sherwood's criticisms of Presidential hopefuls predate his movie. In November 2003 he claimed that 'Presidential wannabe[s]' were 'carping, almost gleefully' about US military casualties in Iraq [15].

Public relations for Stolen Honor

Carlton Sherwood and his film are being represented by two separate public relations companies.

According to PR Week USA, the well-connected Republican PR firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs "has been handling PR efforts for the documentary and its producer". It quotes VP Diana Banister as saying of the Sinclair boycott campaign, "I don't think we can squash it. People have as much right to complain about Sinclair broadcasting as we do about any station that would broadcast Michael Moore's documentary... The Stolen Honor folks have as much right to be aired as anyone else, and even more so." [16]

A September 8, 2004 press release for the movie's DC premiere was issued by Amber Nettles of Shirley & Banister [17].

The president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs is Craig Shirley, who helped produce the infamous, race-baiting Willie Horton ad during the 1988 Presidential election campaign [18].

The much smaller and less well-known public relations firm Quantum Communications is also handling PR for the movie [19]. Quantum's CEO is Charles R. Gerow, a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association [20] and a delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention [21].

The weekend before the 2004 presidential election, purchased airtime on local TV stations across the country to air Stolen Honor.


The "Stolen Honor" website STOLENHONOR.COM is likewise owned by Red, White and Blue Productions, 123 State Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104.

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links


Note: Parts of this article were adapted from an article about Stolen Honor on the Wikipedia.