There’s been a big uproar going on all week about the New York Times Page One, above the fold expose on CT Senate candidate (and current Attorney General) Dick Blumenthal’s apparent misstatements on his military service record. Blumenthal volunteered to serve in the Marine reserves during the Vietnam era, but never served overseas. The Times identified a speech in 2008 where he said he served in Vietnam, as well as a small number of Connecticut news reports where Blumenthal was identified as having served in Vietnam. Given the Times initial report, you would likely think that Blumenthal was systematically and deliberately trying to represent himself as a Vietnam combat veteran. This is anything but the case. His campaign website does not say he served in Vietnam and reporters who have covered Blumenthal over decades of public service have stated they never had the impression he served in country during Vietnam. Moreover, the Linda McMahon campaign has taken credit for being the source for the Times’ reporting.
Yesterday it emerged that in the very speech the Times based their attack around, Blumenthal had previously accurately referred to himself as someone who served during the Vietnam era, but not calling himself a combat veteran or saying he served in Vietnam. The natural question was, who edited the video the Times posted: the New York Times or the McMahon campaign? Keep in mind, this video is basically the only evidence the Times has of Blumenthal misstating his record (Colin McEnroe of the Hartford Courant has rightly pointed out that this is an incredibly thin hit piece).
After questioning on the full video by reporters, the Times responded to Greg Sargent with this incredibly petulant statement:
The New York Times in its reporting uncovered Mr. Blumenthal’s long and well established pattern of misleading his constituents about his Vietnam War service, which he acknowledged in an interview with The Times. Mr. Blumenthal needs to be candid with his constituents about whether he went to Vietnam or not, since his official military records clearly indicate he did not.
The video doesn’t change our story. Saying that he served “during Vietnam” doesn’t indicate one way or the other whether he went to Vietnam.
This line reads like it could have been written by either McMahon or Simmons’ press shops:
“Mr. Blumenthal needs to be candid with his constituents about whether he went to Vietnam or not, since his official military records clearly indicate he did not.”
Too many have sacrificed too much to have their valor stolen in this way. I hope Mr. Blumenthal steps forward and forthrightly addresses the questions that have arisen about this matter.
While I’m not surprised that he ‘regrets’ that his misstatements have been called to the public’s attention, what he owes is an apology to the veterans, who served and sacrificed in Vietnam.
It’s become increasingly clear to us over the past weeks and months as we’ve researched Mr. Blumenthal in earnest that there are some deeply disturbing disconnects between the image he’s sought to portray and reality
I wonder why the NYT sounds just like the GOP candidates running against Blumenthal?
The reporting is clearly thin. Whether or not the Times was given a stack of research and an edited video from McMahon’s campaign, at this point, is less relevant than the simple reality that the reporting is for shit. It is not an accurate piece. Yes, Blumenthal has on at least one occasion misstated his military record. But he did serve in the military and he has been forthright in effectively all documented instances that he did not serve in Vietnam. The Times needs to stop defending this crappy reporting and be transparent about where the story originated.
I’ve written a letter to Clark Hoyt, the Public Editor at the Times, regarding this story. I have yet to receive a response, but expect that Hoyt will find some way to paper over his paper’s bad reporting, as he so often does.