How Badly Did The New York Times Screw Up the Richard Blumenthal Story?
On Monday, The New York Times accused Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal of falsely implying that he'd served in Vietnam. Then a Republican candidate bragged about having fed the story to the paper. What happened here, guys?
Do you remember when the Times found out that Richard Blumenthal hadn't actually served in Vietnam, but was going around saying the words "served" and "Vietnam" real close to one another, and possibly some people thought he had? There was even a smoking gun, in the form of one of the Times' dumb unembeddable videos, of Blumenthal saying "the days that I served in Vietnam," when no such days exist!
And then Blumenthal's possible Republican opponent Linda McMahon basically claimed on her website to have written the story herself. Or at least, to have done all the hard research work. And just like that, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dismissed the story as a GOP hit job.
As we all know, that's pretty unfair! Campaigns love to tip off political reporters about all the terrible things their opponents are doing, and political reporters love being able to sleep till noon. David Plouffe famously fed the John Edwards six-gazillion-dollar-haircut story to the press, and he knows a thing or two about campaigning, what with getting a Kenyan Muslim elected President. The Times didn't screw up on that score (the McMahon campaign sure did, though).
No, where the Times screwed up was with their "smoking gun" evidence: The video of Blumenthal saying "I served in Vietnam" is cut from a speech where he accurately characterizes his service elsewhere. Which means, unless he is, like, Orly Taitz-level crazy, the bombshell quote really was a misstatement and not a calculated lie. Blumenthal's language about his service during the Vietnam era could definitely use a little bit of, uh, tidying up, it seems—and the Times article still evidences that. But if you want your story to look like a responsible piece of political reporting maybe show the whole video next time?