Most pundits were
of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's defense against the New
York Times report that he lied about serving in Vietnam. The war record
scandal isn't going away
, with the Stamford Advocate
digging up other incidents where Blumenthal suggested, deliberately or
not, that he had served in the military in Vietnam, which is false. But
some pundits are rising up to challenge the New York Times' reporting of
the incident, which critics say skewed the story and selectively edited
to give readers a one-sided version of events. Here's their case.
Missed The Full Story Associated Press reporter Susan Haigh investigates.
"Blumenthal, who was in the Marine Reserve, said Tuesday he meant to
say he served 'during' Vietnam instead of 'in' Vietnam. He said the
statements were 'totally unintentional' errors that occurred only a few
times out of hundreds of public appearances. A longer version of the
video posted by a Republican opponent shows Blumenthal at the beginning
of his speech correctly characterizing his service by saying that he
'served in the military, during the Vietnam era.' A spokeswoman for the
Times says the longer video does not change the story about a 'long and
well-established pattern of misleading his constituents about his
Vietnam War service.'"
- 'The Flaws In The NYT Blumenthal Story'
The Hartford Courant's Colin McEnroe knocks down
"the overreaching by Raymond Hernandez and the New York Times in
claiming that Blumenthal's fictional service in Vietnam had become a
widely embraced trope. It's just not true here in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, several aspects of that first story have crumpled a bit."
McEnroe speaks to ten prominent Connecticut journalists, nine of whom
agree that Blumenthal was consistently clear about his lack of service
and made the true story well-known.
- The One-Sided Presentation
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent says the Times'
video was "by far the single most damning piece of evidence against
Blumenthal. The other quotes are just not quite as conclusive. And the
fact that he got it right, if narrowly so, earlier in the speech raises
at least the possibility that he didn't intend to mislead later on, even
if it doesn't prove this one way or the other. Even if you don't
believe the longer video is exculpatory in any way, as The Times says,
there's no conceivable reason for leaving out the fuller context and
letting readers make the call for themselves. It seems obvious that when
dealing with a story this explosive, you would want to err on the side
of more context, rather than less."
- 'Over-Selling' The
Columbia Journalism Review's Clint Hendler writes,
"Blumenthal's presentation is messy here, meaning that the Times
has a story. But they're doing everyone a disservice by over-selling it.
... the Times failed to present valuable context that would help
voters weigh a potential candidacy-ending charge."
- Did They
Mislead or Were They Misled? Media Matters' Jamison Foser asks, "So why didn't the Times
include Blumenthal 'correctly characterizing his service' in its
version of the video? That's awfully misleading, isn't it? Given that
Republican Linda McMahon's campaign has taken credit for feeding the Times
the Blumenthal story, you have to wonder if it gave the Times the
incomplete video, as well. Either way, the Times should explain
why it chose to omit Blumenthal's correct characterization of his
- The Times Really Got Sloppy Daily Kos chief Markos Moulitsas fumes, "I
trusted the NY Times to get the story right, and believed the paper
when it claimed Blumenthal had a history of misrepresenting his service
history. As a veteran, it pissed me off. Now I'm pissed at the NY Times
for not properly doing its job, and denying its readers the available
information necessary for its readers to properly assess the situation. I
trusted the newspaper. You'd think I would've learned my lesson after
- Bad Journalism We've Seen Before Liberal
blogger DougJ shakes his head.
"Leaving out how one feels about Richard Blumenthal possibly
misreprenting his military record, I just can't see how this is good
journalism on the part of the Times," he writes. "I don't like the way
the Times is handling this. It reminds me a lot of their story about
John McCain and that foxy lobbyist in 2008. Again, it's too much of a
hit piece focusing on topics that aren't that closely related to any
important governmental issues."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.