Omitting the exculpatory part

OMITTING THE EXCULPATORY PART…. Clearly, the most damaging part of yesterday’s New York Times report on Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) was one particular sentence he uttered more than two years ago. Speaking an event honoring veterans, Blumenthal said, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.”

That’s false — Blumenthal served during the Vietnam era, but was not deployed — and he concedes that he misspoke at that event. There’s no available evidence that Blumenthal repeated that false claim anywhere else, but there’s nevertheless a video of the mistaken remarks.

The Associated Press, to its credit, took a closer look at that video, and found some relevant details.

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.”

That seems like a pretty important detail that the NYT didn’t include in its report. In fact, if Blumenthal were trying to deliberately deceive the public, he wouldn’t have told the truth and accurately characterized his service in the exact same speech in which Blumenthal apparently misspoke.

It’s reasonable, then, to wonder why the Times‘ report included the damaging mistake, but not the exculpatory part of the speech. It’s possible the NYT was relying on the opposition research given to the paper by Linda McMahon’s Republican campaign, and the campaign only presented the part of the speech it wants the reporters to see.

Jamison Foser added, “Either way, the Times should explain why it chose to omit Blumenthal’s correct characterization of his service.”

And in the electoral context, it’s also much easier for Blumenthal and his allies to dismiss this as an honest mistake when there’s only one example of the misstatement, and he told the truth in the exact same speech.