2004: John Kerry
Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry
Director: George Butler
President George W. Bush would go on to win a close re-election bid in 2004 and much of his victory could be tied to a series of smear campaigns by organizations such as Swift Vets and POWs for Truth that publicly contested Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry’s military record.
These claims would be explored in an anti-Kerry film, Stolen Honor, that claims his testimonies in the Winter Soldier Investigations were fabrications, that the bestowing of his various war medals were unwarranted and attempts to link him to notorious anti-war protesters such as Jane Fonda. The film would be shown in parts by Sinclair Broadcasting Group just weeks before the election.
Conversely, Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, which grossed a modest $614,000 in a theatrical release, presented an honorable narrative of Kerry’s involvement in the Vietnam War effort, home and abroad. The film was handled with a sense of patriotism and opts not to refute claims made in Stolen Honor.
The 2004 election marked the bitterest use of the documentary medium and history will tell if it will remain so.
Result: Not elected.