February 22, 2008

ABC "Fact Checks" by Quoting Same Unamed Source as Obama

Wow, ABC's Jake Tapper "Fact Checks" Obama's story about a "Captain" of a "Marine rifle platoon" who's "platoon" was "split up" with many of them going to the bad war (Iraq) and the others going to the good war (Afghanistan) and that were so ill prepared and under equipped that that they had to scrounge Taliban weapons to fight with.

ABC's verdict?

I find that Obama's anecdote checks out.
How does ABC vindicate Barrack Obama's anecdote used to draw attention to how the bad war is stealing resources from the good war?

Tapper called the "Captain" and asked him to verify his own story.

How, exactly, is it "verifying" anything by simply asking the same source if his story is true? This isn't the testimony of one source verifying the testimony of another source. This is two people reporting the testimony of a single source!

No one is accusing Obama of making the story up. We are accusing the "Captain" of making stuff up---or, at the very least, using selective pieces of information in order to lend credence to the bad war/good war theory. Obama then uses an untrue story to further the narrative which he hopes will get him elected.

This is like The New York Times "verifying" Scott Thomas Beauchamp's story in The New Republic by calling Beauchamp up and asking him to retell the story!

Great job Tapper, didn't they teach you what 'fact checking' meant in journalism school? You checked no facts. What you're doing is stating your opinion, not 'fact checking':

He told me his story, which I found quite credible
Finding a story to be credible is not the same thing as 'fact checking'.

When someone tells me a story in which they relate how al Qaeda in Iraq has beheaded yet another victim, I tend to believe those stories. It meshes with what I already know about al Qaeda. It's believable. But a story being believable doesn't make it true.

Could it be that Tapper finds this story believable--ontological reality in his mind since he's unable to differentiate between his opinion and fact--because it meshes with his own predisposition to believe in the good war/bad war distinction?

Even worse, what does this line say about Tapper's beliefs?

though for obvious reasons he asked that I not mention his name or certain identifying information.
Obvious reasons? No, not so obvious to me. Unless you believe, like many on the left, that there will be serious consequences for officers criticizing the military supply chain (a criticism, by the way, which can be found in military report after report after report). But I'm guessing the first commenter to Tapper's article has hit close to home:
Obvious reasons? What, fear of death squads?

Or maybe fear of verification, or fear of others in his unit calling him on his fictions and embellishments?

Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark.

The only thing clarified in ABC's 'vindication' of Obama's story is that the Captain was actually a Lieutenant at the time, thus explaining why he would be over a platoon.

Tapper can't help but finish this odd piece of 'fact checking' by taking a swipe at bloggers:

I might suggest those on the blogosphere upset about this story would be better suited directing their ire at those responsible for this problem, which is certainly not new. That is, if they actually care about the men and women bravely serving our country at home and abroad.
Don't you get it blogosphere? Leave the fact checking the professionals. And never ever question the theory that Iraq--the bad war--has distracted us from Afghanistan--the good war. Because without that story taking root in the popular mind, Barrack Obama doesn't stand a chance winning in 2008.

Uncle Jimbo is being far too civilized when he says the story:

does have elements of truth, but the story is 4 or 5 years old and the way it was offered still shows far too much ignorance about the military and attempts to make it sound like a current problem.
[note: Watch Jimbo in the video at the link, he's a bit less understanding] In other words, parts of the story sound like they could be believable. But who's to say that the theory linking the Iraq war to the story is the correct one? The way the story is presented is part of a larger narrative the left has about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Note to ABC: Next time you try to verify a story, please do some actual fact checking. No one questioned that someone had told the story to Barrack Obama or his staff, the questions centered on the essential truth of the story.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention in first draft, as Allah reminds me about the essential truthiness of the ABC story:

Well, except for that very minor detail about them not actually having to capture Taliban weapons to fight, okay.
Just a minor detail.

UPDATE II
: Ace on the same page, even seeing the same Beauchamp parallel, and then goes after Mathiew Yglesias and the Left's full support of Obama's truthiness. Ace:
Obama spins out a ludicrous exaggeration, some claims are found to support (if you credit the claim) a much more plausible version of the claims he made, which are as far from the original as the lightning bug is from the lightning, and... we're wrong, we need to apologize.

Okay, whatever.

UPDATE III: Hey ABC, this is called fact checking. You might learn a thing or two from the blogosphere. AJ Strata:
Tapper claims this Captain was deployed in Summer 2003 and his rifle platoon was without up-armored humvees as if this was abnormal. But as the timeline of contracts and production clearly show the kits did not start coming out until the fall of 2003 and the first production models of up-armored hummers came out in 2004.
A reader also drops this into the comments. Fact? I dunno, but believable:
I was assigned to 10th Mountain 1998 to 2000. Light Infantry Platoons are not equipped with HMMWVs so it is not surprising that they were scrambling to get ones with which to train. DOD does not keep [ware]houses full of extra equipment for units that are not designed to have the equipment in the first place just in case they might need it for a war no one saw coming.

Same applies for operations in Afghanistan. 10th Mountain is a light infantry unit platoons are not supposed to have HMMWVs. It is not wrong to give them HMMWVs but to get up armored HMMWVs, that had to be manufactured, to Afghanistan, is a logistical nightmare.

Hmmm......

UPDATE IV
: Pentagon skeptical:
"I find that account pretty hard to imagine," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
John Warner wants to talk to this "Captain".

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:14 PM | Comments |