New York Times Goes Balls-Out on Richard Blumenthal With Second Sans-Context Report

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Well, that didn't take long. The New York Times just ran a follow-up to their original reporting of Connecticut Attorney General and Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal misstating his Vietnam service record. It's another account of him doing so, this one culled from a three-year-old article written in a Connecticut weekly called The Milford Mirror, regarding a speech Blumenthal once gave:

"In Vietnam," Mr. Blumenthal said, according to the article, "we had to endure taunts and insults, and no one said, 'Welcome home.' I say welcome home."

The disclosure of the Milford episode comes days after The New York Times reported that Mr. Blumenthal, who is running for the United States, had falsely claimed that he had served in Vietnam, and had failed to correct reports in the news media that perpetuated the claim.

Interestingly enough, they don't link to or repost the article (which they could, because it's fair use), instead choosing to take just one quote from the piece.

What if the "we" Blumenthal referred to were the Collective "We" of the American People?

Surely, the guy should be smart enough to never, ever even give the appearance of inferring that he served in Vietnam (when he didn't, for which the Times has a handy graphic to show how just how much he didn't serve in Vietnam). But the reporting on this particular filing looks suspicious, given that the first story was already called into question for -- what else? -- not posting the entire piece of evidence (in that case, a video; in this one, an article). And when the Times has the resources to put a handy interactive graphic on their site, and link to their own story, but not link to the full piece or post the full version of what's essentially the crux of their story?

My colleague Wayne Barrett is absolutely right: Here, we have another politician whose hypocrisy regarding the precise wording of matters involving the public has been opened wide. And it's ugly.

But readers shouldn't disregard the ugliness of the source. Here we have a full-on oppo story seeded to the press that has twice now failed to tell the entire story. It's one of two things: bad editorial management, or shoddy reporting. And The New York Times owes it to their readers to either correct the case with context, or make someone accountable for what isn't there.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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