Semper Lie!

No, Blumenthal did not swim here at Harvard's Blodgett Pool! It opened in 1978. (Photo used under CC, thanks to flickr user jeromeleslie)

It’s certainly among the tabloid-style headlines I would’ve loved to have seen (and maybe I missed) for a story questioning one’s military service, but I can’t take any credit for it.  I noticed it in a comment left by ‘meridenite’ on the Hartford Courant‘s piece about

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

whether or not Richard Blumenthal was actually captain of the swim team at Harvard, or was actually on the team, or even dipped a toe in a Cambridge pool during that era. Let alone what counts as ‘the team’.

So you can see where this is going:  Over-reporting an over-reported story does not suddenly prove you’re on the case.

(That said, for a guy who has written a dozen blog posts in a year, I’ve found myself writing two in two days. See: The funny thing about transparency…)

I’m not sure what digging deeper on this angle of Blumenthal’s swim service really proves.

Does it conclusively show that the journalists who originally reported this relatively small detail did not check every fact?  Even if – for arguments sake – Blumenthal said he was the captain of the team and wasn’t, what does that mean?  That there’s a likelihood he fudged other relatively un-important things in his four decades of service since?  Not in the least. Dig into what those things are and you’ll have a story.

Or, do as another commenter suggests:

Why not analyze his campaign financing for Q1? According to the FEC data, while 65% of his funding 40% of his contributions came from bankers, lawyers, and PACs.

— “joe”

I was pleased to see that the New York Times public editor is looking into the original story‘s reporting, as others have called for.

The treatment of the facts provided political fodder for a nation so lost in choosing sides, so anxious for that ‘gotcha’ moment, that it forgot how to put into perspective all it consume.

Sometimes you need a sledgehammer, but sometimes a flyswatter gets the job done, too.


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