Tuesday was clearly a day of deep embarrassment for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who was fighting for his political career after The New York Times raised questions about statements he made distorting the extent of his military service.
But the episode is something of an embarrassment for the press corps, too. It turns out several news outlets have veered between accurately presenting his military record in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and reporting, unwarrantedly, that he served in Vietnam.
Blumenthal never went to Vietnam. Yet the Times obtained videotape from March 2008 that showed him telling a crowd, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.” The paper reported other instances that it said also showed him stretching the truth.
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Amid a threat to his bid to be Connecticut’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Blumenthal apologized Tuesday afternoon and took responsibility for what he said were his misstatements on a relative few occasions.
But he took on the media, too. “Sometimes journalists do make mistakes,” Blumenthal told reporters who packed a press conference. “I’m responsible for my mistakes. I can’t be held responsible for all the mistakes in all the articles — thousands of them — that are written about me.”
He’s got a point. An extensive search of the news database Nexis conducted by NPR shows several Connecticut newspapers repeatedly mischaracterized Blumenthal’s service, especially the Connecticut Post.
Read More: by David Folkenflik, NPR