Esquire Fabricates, Drudge Falls For It

As you are probably aware, Esquire magazine has published an interview with the Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden. The interview has made news for a number of reasons, but what does Esquire headline? The claim that the SEAL, now out of the service, has been left without health care by the federal government:

Here is how the article’s author, Phil Bronstein, tells the story:

“I left SEALs on Friday,” he said the next time I saw him. It was a little more than thirty-six months before the official retirement requirement of twenty years of service. “My health care for me and my family stopped at midnight Friday night. I asked if there was some transition from my Tricare to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said no. You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years. Go fuck yourself.”

The government does provide 180 days of transitional health-care benefits, but the Shooter is eligible only if he agrees to remain on active duty “in a support role,” or become a reservist. Either way, his life would not be his own. Instead, he’ll buy private insurance for $486 a month, but some treatments that relieve his wartime pains, like $120 for weekly chiropractic care, are out-of-pocket. Like many vets, he will have to wait at least eight months to have his disability claims adjudicated. Or even longer. The average wait time nationally is more than nine months, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The story spread rapidly, especially on Twitter and liberal web sites like the Huffington Post. Gullible “journalists” like Ezra Klein ate it up. Worse, Matt Drudge fell for it:

The story, as Twitchy explains, is entirely untrue. All veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan are eligible for at least five years of government-financed health care through the VA. This was pointed out to Bronstein, who responded on Twitter:

The 5 year care provision is in the story but you’re right: outplacement didn’t tell him.

Only there is no reference in Esquire’s story to the fact that the former SEAL gets at least five years of free health care. And if there were, it would have rendered Esquire’s headline–“The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden…Is Screwed”–pointless. Liberals are now saying that whoever briefed the SEAL before he left the Navy forgot to mention his benefits, or else the SEAL wasn’t paying good attention. I think it is more likely that Bronstein made the whole thing up. After all, the SEAL is anonymous, so it’s hard for him to correct Esquire’s tall tale. (I am assuming, by the way, that Bronstein actually did interview the SEAL who shot bin Laden, and that the whole thing isn’t a fabrication.) What is striking about this episode, I think, is that Esquire could publish its story, and liberal outlets run with it heedlessly, even though there must be millions of people who know it can’t possibly be true. Exposing media myths is getting easier, it seems, all the time. In the meantime, Drudge’s headline and its link to the Esquire story are still up, and Twitchy reports that Esquire has refused to run a correction.


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