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It's pretty bad when the NY Times gets owned by an AP fact check.

The crisis erupted when The New York Times reported that Blumenthal had repeatedly distorted his military service. The story included quotations and a video of Blumenthal saying at a 2008 event that he had "served in Vietnam." The newspaper also said Blumenthal intimated more than once that he was a victim of the abuse heaped on Vietnam veterans upon their return home.

A longer version of the video posted by a Republican opponent also shows Blumenthal at the beginning of his speech correctly characterizing his service by saying that he "served in the military, during the Vietnam era."

In other words, the AP went and looked at the video in question, something which the NY Times apparently did not.

The New York Times apparently now flacks for the NRSC:

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.

Really, that is truly indistinguishable from any statement you might get from a political campaign.

As Greg Sargent notes:

I agree that Blumenthal getting the quote right earlier in the speech doesn't change the fact that he misled about his service later in that same speech. And its true that The Times uncovered other examples of Blumenthal appearing to mislead about his service, or at least not doing anything to correct misimpressions about it.

But the 2008 speech is 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.

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 Judith Miller.

Update: Colin McEnroe of the Hartford Courant has a pretty devastating itemized listing of the flaws in the NY Times article. He also asked local reporters who covered Blumenthal what they knew about Blumenthal's military record:

Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror, who may have covered Blumenthal more often than anybody else, referred me to his quote in an NPR national story: "Every time he talked about his military record, he was quite clear that he had been a military reservist and never came close to suggesting he was in Vietnam."

Greg Hladky of the Hartford Advocate, formerly of the New Haven Register and Bridgeport Post, right up there with Paz in Blumenthal coverage: "Never personally heard [Blumenthal]  say he was in Vietnam. I knew he had been the the Marine Corps Reserve, talked about that briefly during interview for a profile I did recently, and he never mentioned being in Nam."

Daniela Altimari of the Courant: "I have not been covering Blumenthal for very long, but I do know that last month, when I asked his campaign about his military service, they said very clearly that he served during the Vietnam era but did not serve in a combat arena."

Duby McDowell, former WFSB political reporter: "I have always been under the impression that he was in the marine reserves." [...]

Dennis House of WFSB: "As I reported ...on Eyewitness News I do not recall Richard Blumenthal ever saying to me that he served in Vietnam. Our computer archives date back to 1994, and my search of them also found no indication Blumenthal ever made that claim in front of an Eyewitness News camera. I should point out, not every sound bite is transcribed, so it is possible what a person said to us is not listed in the computer ...In conclusion, I do not recall Blumenthal ever saying he served in Vietnam and our archives do not indicate he ever said it to us. However we can't be 100% sure."

Ted Mann of the New London Day: "I checked our archive and discovered I've never quoted him saying that, and neither has anyone else at our paper since it started keeping its archives digitally a decade ago. Personally, I've never been under the impression he served in Vietnam."

David Owens, Hartford Courant, "I heard him say he was a Vietnam-era vet, but never say or suggest he was in Vietnam.I was surprised by that video. It's kind of funny that the anonymous commenters are bashing us in the press for not revealing this before. There was nothing to reveal."

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed May 19, 2010 at 03:27 PM PDT.

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