New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny was with Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in Waterloo, Iowa, at the official launching of her presidential campaign for Tuesday’s “Bachmann Opens Campaign as Expectations Grow.” But Zeleny concluded his mostly balanced story with a reference to Bachmann’s latest in a “string of gaffes” – her mistaken claim that Western movie star John Wayne had been born in Waterloo, Iowa (though his parents met there).
Yet the Times has totally ignored a far more by President Obama, who wrongly claimed in a speech he gave June 23 to the Army's 10th Mountain Division that he had awarded a Medal of Honor to a living soldier. Jared Monti had actually had been killed in Afghanistan in 2006 and had been bestowed the honor posthumously. Obama apologized to the family.
Reporter Jackie Calmes even filed an online report from Fort Drum, in upstate New York, but failed to note the flub.
Mrs. Bachmann, who rose to prominence with her evocative quips and spirited presence in television interviews and appearances at Tea Party rallies last year, has also experienced a string of gaffes. She added a new one to the list during her visit back to Waterloo, a city that she left in 1968.
She spoke adoringly of her town, recalling the Dairy Queen, her house on East Ninth Street and the Wonder Bread Factory, where her mother picked up ingredients for her favorite mayonnaise and lettuce sandwiches. But as she stood in her old neighborhood, she misstated a piece of Iowa lore as she explained the important role that Waterloo had in shaping her character.
“John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa,” Mrs. Bachmann told Carl Cameron of Fox News in an interview. “That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”
The actor was actually born in Winterset, Iowa, which is about 150 miles southwest of Waterloo. It was John Wayne Gacy, known as the killer clown who raped and murdered 33 teenage boys in the 1970s, who lived in Waterloo.