The Annenberg Survey, just released, shows public skepticism is rising - and belief in the liars is going limp.
Belief in Bush campaign backing of the ads increased during the week. On August 23 and 24, when the Kerry campaign was making the accusation, 42 percent said the campaign was behind the ads and 41 percent said they were truly independent. On August 25 and 26, after Benjamin L. Ginsberg resigned as national counsel to the Bush campaign when his connection to the ads' sponsors was revealed, 50 percent said the campaign was connected and 34 percent said it was not.
Kerry's attackers, known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, first accused him of deception about earning the medals he received in Vietnam. Belief that Kerry had not earned all of his medals rose from 23 percent early in August to a high of 30 percent on August 19, but declined after news reports documented discrepancies between the claims of the ads, previous statements by the attackers, and government records.
The rise in belief that Kerry did not earn all of his medals coincided with extensive cable and political talk radio discussion of the original Swift Veterans ad. The decrease followed a five day period in which investigations by major news outlets challenged the story told in the ad and an eyewitness first person account in The Chicago Tribune corroborated Kerry's account of one of the events in question.
In the August 23-26 polling, of 1,244 adults, belief that Kerry had not earned his medals had receded to 24 percent, a view held by 43 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of independents, and 7 percent of Democrats.