Sen. John Kerry's campaign biographer Douglas Brinkley said Sunday that if an ongoing Navy investigation into Kerry's military decorations turns up evidence of "purposeful" deception, it could spell doom for the top Democrat's White House bid.
Praising reporter Thomas Lipscomb, who broke news of the Navy investigation on Friday, Brinkley told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg, "Journalists are going to have to see whether there's a discrepancy on [the citations posted to Kerry's] Web site - whether there's something wrong that's said there or not."
"If so," said the "Tour of Duty" author, "Kerry would have to fix it immediately - and it does raise some questions as to why that would happen."
"Is it sloppiness, is it purposeful intent, is there an easy explanation for it?" Brinkley wondered.
He said that while questions raised by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about Kerry's war record have been very damaging, "so far they haven't been lethal." But Brinkley predicted that a discrepancy with Kerry's medals could seriously escalate his political problems.
Asked if inconsistencies uncovered by the Navy probe could be the "death knell" for Kerry's campaign, Brinkley told Malzberg, "It could."
In the next breath he hastened to add, however: "Right now it's unclear. So we have to just wait to see what all this adds up to."
The presidential historian called on Kerry to authorize the release of his full military file, saying, "Clearly some of these military records should be made available to the press."