‘How the Left Swiftboated America’

December 11, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Before there was Glenn Beck, there was John Gibson, a dyspeptic Fox News host who anchored the network’s 5 p.m. block and steadily upped his outrage against liberals and Democrats. His shining moment at the network was probably the “war on Christmas” coverage of the late Bush era, culminating in his 2005 book “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.”

Gibson, who now hosts a radio show for Fox, is back on bookshelves with some serious heavy lifting: “How the Left Swiftboated America: The Liberal Media Conspiracy to Make You Think George Bush Was the Worst President in History.” How “swiftboating” makes any sense in this context, I don’t know. Suffice to say that the book is pretty terrible.

It begins with a recap of the 2000 Florida recount that’s riddled with errors. An example: “It was Gore who took the case to the Supreme Court.” That’s exactly the opposite of what happened. The Bush campaign appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to overturn the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court, which it did. That’s why the case was titled “Bush v. Gore” and not “Gore v. Bush” — Bush sued first. That’s the level of fact-checking you get in this book. You also get convincing “rebuttals” like this:

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Indeed, Bush’s “smartest move” was … wait, what?

Gibson’s on the same slippery soil when he goes after the agents of “swiftboating” by name. In a chapter titled “The Echo Chamber: Dailykos and the Left-Wing Noise Machine,” Gibson fingers dailykos.com as an all-powerful source of lies and conspiracy theories.

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That section represents a little bit of mission creep: The real problem with the blog, and with all of the liberal blogosphere, is that it refuses to acknowledge that George W. Bush was right about everything.

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It’s an awful but fascinating little train wreck of a book.