Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Little Fact-Checking Is In Order

I knew that I'd have to write a fact-checking post after reading Bing West's op-ed. While I agree with Mr. West's statement that "Murtha smeared the reputation of a generation of Marines." I even agree that "bestowing the navy’s highest civilian medal, the Distinguished Public Service Award, upon Rep. John P. Murtha (D., Pa.) last month" was wrong. Here's where I disagree with Mr. West:

In May of 2006, military investigators recommended court-martial trials for seven Marines involved in the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians after a Marine was killed in the violent town of Haditha. Marine generals went to Capitol Hill to alert the key committees about the forthcoming trials and, after being briefed, Representative Murtha held a world-famous press conference.

“They killed innocent civilians in cold blood. They actually went into the houses and killed women and children,” Murtha thundered. “But I will not excuse murder. And this is what happened. There’s no question in my mind about it.”

Those two short paragraphs have alot of misstatements of fact in them, which I highlighted in this post.

First, "24 innocent civilians" weren't killed in the Haditha uprising; 16 innocent civilians were killed because 8 identified insurgents used them as human shields. This information is part of the PowerPoint presentation then-Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore put together after the firefight.

Second, Marine generals didn't brief Rep. Murtha prior to his infamous press conference:

Asked about his sources during a midday briefing on Iraq policy in the Capitol, Murtha confidently replied, “All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they’re talking about.” Although Murtha said that he had not read any investigative reports by the military on the incident, he stressed, “It’s much worse than reported in Time magazine.”

The Marine Corps later corrected the record:

Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, is being sued by one of the accused Marines for libel. He had told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gen. Michael Hagee had given him the information on which he based his charge that Marines killed innocent civilians.

But a spokesman for the Marine Corps said Hagee briefed Murtha on May 24 about Haditha. Murtha had made comments on the case as early as May 17. On May 17, for example, he said at a news conference, “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”

A spokeswoman for Murtha was not immediately available.

Mr. West's article does a good job outlining the atrocities visited upon the Marines by those that theoretically "support the troops, just not the war." Here's one such example:

Inevitably, the administration was blamed for Haditha. The New York Times editorial page said: “It will not do to focus blame narrowly on the Marine unit suspected of carrying out these killings and ignore the administration officials, from President Bush on down, who made the chances of this sort of disaster so much greater by deliberately blurring the rules governing the conduct of American soldiers in the field.”

Don't you just have to appreciate the fact that the Paper Of Record waited to find out all the facts before playing judge, jury and executioner? Then again, that's what I expect from people that are more interested in pushing a leftist agenda rather than reporting important news.

As Ed highlights in
this post, the NYTimes will go to any length to criticize Republicans. Here's what they wrote about their latest corrupt polling:

These sometimes turbulent weeks, marked by new initiatives by Mr. Obama, attacks by Republicans and more than a few missteps by the White House, do not appear to have hurt the president. Americans said they approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan; fully two-thirds said they approved of his overall job performance.

By contrast, just 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls.

Here's their dirty little secret:

It’s not unusual for the Gray Lady to cook the numbers, either, to make sure their poll shows that support. This is the breakout in their demographics on page 23:
Democrats - 39%
Republicans - 23%
Independents - 30%

A media outlet that's more interested in eliminating key facts in their attempt to skewer an ideological enemy than it's interested in reporting truth isn't far removed from the worst of tabloid journalism. A media outlet that's willing to throw wrongfully accuse genuine American heroes of cold-blooded murder isn't a media outlet of sterling repute.

Similarly, an important congressman who'll willingly misrepresent the actions of our military is a reprehensible human being.

In that sense, John Murtha and the NY Times deserve each other.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative