Can you handle the truth?

Contrary to the implication of my post “Troops halp Jon Carry in Irak,” the troops did not snub Senator Kerry during breakfast on the morning of December 17, 2006 at the embassy mess hall in Baghdad or, for that matter, as TPMmuckraker instructed us, in London on January 9, 2006. You may recall that our Baghdad informant offered some first-hand testimony that accompanied the photo we ran:

This is a true story….Check out this photo from our mess hall at the US Embassy yesterday morning. Sen. Kerry found himself all alone while he was over here. He cancelled his press conference because no one came, he worked out alone in the gym w/o any soldiers even going up to say hi or ask for an autograph (I was one of those who was in the gym at the same time), and he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.

What is amazing is Bill O’Reilly came to visit with us and the troops at the CSH the same day and the line for autographs extended through the palace and people waited for two hours to shake his hand. You decide who is more respected and loved by us servicemen and women!

Now comes Greg Sargent at TPM Cafe Election Central, on a mission that bears on John Hinderaker’s thoughts on moonbattery. Sargent has established that Kerry’s breakfast — in Baghdad, as a matter of fact — was an off-the-record meeting with two New York Times reporters. Kerry was therefore not lonely at breakfast. We stand corrected.

Here is our correspondence with Greg Sargent yesterday:

Hi Powerlinefolks,

I think I’ve come as close as possible to proving that the “lonely Kerry” story is bogus.

I’d be interested to see if you intend to address this new information.

best,
Greg

I responded:

Greg: This was our last word [link to John’s thoughts on moonbattery]. My judgment is that the subject is not of inexhaustible interest to our readers.

My original post — which was light in tone, with a heading alluding to the photo of the shoutout he got from our hometown heroes who were “stuck n Irak” last fall — was accompanied by a first hand report from our own military source in Baghdad, who testified to Senator Kerry’s unpopularity with the troops he visited there.

As I recall (and I am writing from memory), your colleagues at Muckraker were calling us all liars for posting or linking to a fraudulent photograph that was really taken of Kerry on January 9,
2006 in London. Who owes whom an apology?

And I guess he’s really popular with the troops too, right? I really think you and your friends need to get a life.

Sargent reponded:

Scott, the story is completely false, and you guys should acknowledge that, instead of hiding behind the idea that it’s not “of interest” or was “light.” Why don’t you feel compelled to tell your readers the truth? Would it really do them any harm?

To which I responded:

Greg: This is my last word on the subject:

1. The content of my original post consisted mostly of an email message from our military source for the photograph. The photo was of interest in the context of the email message. We stand by the veracity of the email message; you simply omit any reference to it.

2. Your colleagues at Muckraker falsely claimed that the photograph was fake, having been taken of Kerry in London on January 9, 2006. They called us and others liars and frauds. We spent a lot of time responding to those charges. Now you have authenticated the photograph. You nevertheless charge that our post was “completely false.” To coin a phrase, what’s wrong with this picture? You really must live in an alternative universe.

Best regards,
Scott Johnson

Here is Sargent’s final word:

I know you won’t answer this, but I’ll nonetheless respond. Your emailer misled you, and as a consequence, you misled your own readers. The emailer wrote “he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.”

This is presented as proving that he was snubbed by the troops. But as I’ve shown, he was eating with “a couple of folks who obviously are not troops” by choice — and that the three of them chose not to sit with troops so they could have a private conversation. There’s simply no longer any doubt that this is the case, and by extension, there’s no doubt whatsoever any longer that this photo didn’t by any stretch prove what your emailer, and others, claimed it did.

Yet you simply won’t tell your readers this fundamental fact. You’re misleading your own readers by omission, pure and simple.

Our emailer comments that Senator Kerry’s off-the-record breakfast meeting on December 17 may have taken place “because no one showed up at [Senator Kerry’s] press conference the night before.” I add only that, despite his being a serial defamer of the American military in the course of a long public career, Senator Kerry is actually admired, popular and sought-out by the troops, just like Bill O’Reilly!

UPDATE: Larwyn comments:

Darn Scott, Sargent could have proved that Kerry did spend Chrismas in Cambodia, was receiving 30 miles of enemy fire while rescuing other sailors, has scars longer than Lyndon Johnson’s from battle wounds and you cut communications.

Finally, Michelle Malkin has an excellent round-up here.

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