Colin McEnroe has a great piece pointing out a number of flaws in the New York Times story on Richard Blumenthal’s military record. He pointed out the vagueness of the story, the fact that it relied heavily on a clipped speech where Blumenthal properly described his service just minutes before, and then he asked local reporters if they ever had the impression that Blumenthal was fudging the 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.”

Even Nate Silver, who was initially very hard on Blumenthal, has measured his tone.

Now, this isn’t a universal claim. The Day, a paper in Connecticut, claimed that Blumenthal is usually a better fact-checker when it comes to the media, but didn’t bother in the case of his Vietnam record.

Few, if any, state officials have been more active than Mr. Blumenthal in attending events honoring military veterans, service people and the nation’s war dead. He has been an outspoken defender of veterans’ benefits and used his office to protect those benefits.

Yet the comments claiming Vietnam service, though seemingly isolated, are what they are and not easily explained away.

And why did Mr. Blumenthal not act quickly to correct inaccurate reports in state newspapers that described him as a Vietnam veteran? The candidate explains he can’t track all news reports about him. Yet this newspaper knows from experience that Mr. Blumenthal is quick to correct unflattering statements published about him or to refute opinions with which he disagrees. One reporter got a call from the attorney general for inserting a middle initial in his name. He has none.

This represents some shiftiness on the part of the media, which is now holding the standard that Blumenthal failed to clean up their mistakes, and should be punished for it. But now another paper has unearthed a quote of Blumenthal saying “I wore the uniform in Vietnam.” Blumenthal said in his press conference that there were a few instances of him saying “in” instead of “during”; this would appear to be one of them.

Meanwhile, I’m certain that, any day now, we’ll here about similar-sounding statements of military service that didn’t exist, from Lindsey Graham, from Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk, even from that jackass running for Ag Commissioner in Alabama (he has an in/during problem too). Even though they’re all Republicans, I’m sure they will be judged on their statements just as closely as Richard Blumenthal.

David Dayen

David Dayen