Don't hold your breath waiting for any (further) glowing profiles of Rachel Maddow from the Gray Lady. MSNBC's in-house Victorian Gent has upped the ante in her years-long pissing contest with media watchdog PolitiFact, which ran a post critical of Maddow last week at one of its offshoots, PunditFact.
The PunditFact post took Maddow to task for claiming on her June 3 show that the Pentagon "made up" a narrative of Army Private Jessica Lynch as a Ramboesque super-soldier who bravely fought off Iraqi attackers, despite grievous wounds, when her company was ambushed three days after the start of the Iraq war in 2003. (Video after the jump)
Update, June 8: one of the sources for PunditFact's reporting on Maddow, Media Myth Alert blogger W. Joseph Campbell, cited in this post.
Rachel Maddow prides herself as a stickler for accuracy, though she's more than willing to shed that inclination if it gets in the way of a good meme.
Her persistent penchant for the tall tale caught the attention of media watchdog PunditFact, a spin-off from frequent Maddow nemesis PolitiFact.com. After Maddow ran a lengthy segment on her MSNBC show Tuesday about long-since discredited reporting from the start of the Iraq war on Army private Jessica Lynch, PunditFact deemed her claim that the Pentagon "made up" an account of Lynch's heroism as "false." (Video after the jump)
"Let's Clear the Fog of War," suggested Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Timothy Egan in a recent blog post for the New York Times. Egan criticized the White House's decision to simply stop talking about what happened at the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday night. "They owe us a complete story, an honesty story, one for the record," Egan wrote.
But in calling for truth, Egan, whether he realized it or not, perpetuated a falsehood concerning the Iraq war that those who opposed that war continue to invoke in support of the narrative that the war effort itself was premised on a falsehood.
Egan made his opposition to the effort in Iraq clear in labeling it "a disastrous and bankrupting war against a country that had nothing to do with the mass homicide on American soil." He went on to offer the tale of Pfc. Jessica Lynch as "emblematic of the whole phony campaign at the top. If the White House was willing to go to war on false pretenses, why shouldn’t low-level commanders follow suit on the ground?"
On Friday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, host Keith Olbermann announced that the episode would be his last, and spent a few minutes near the end of the show saying goodbye. He mentioned a number of infamous and pivotal points in his show’s history when he went after the Bush administration:
The show gradually established its position as anti-establishment from the stagecraft of "Mission Accomplished," to the exaggerated rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, to the death of Pat Tillman to Hurricane Katrina, to the "Nexus of Politics and Terror," to the first "Special Comment."
As he listed a number of prominent supporters of his show, he ended up notably giving credit to the late Tim Russert of NBC for being "my greatest protector, and most indefatigable cheerleader."
Below the fold is the video and a complete transcript of Olbermann's announcement from the Friday, January 21, Countdown show on MSNBC, from about 8:53 p.m.:
As part of an ongoing series called Today's Buzziest Stories of the Decade, NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Monday's Today, featured a segment with former Iraq war POW Jessica Lynch, and with it brought back some of the "Buzziest" bias of the decade as Vieira declared Lynch's story was "exaggerated to sell a war hard up for appealing heroes," and described Lynch as a "pawn of the military that was trying to sell, some said, a war to the American public." While the stories of Lynch's ordeal were indeed exaggerated, something Lynch decried in the segment, for Vieira to claim the war was "hard up for appealing heroes," was a gross exaggeration in itself.
As the MRC's Rich Noyes pointed out in his 2005 Special Report, "TV's Bad News Brigade," there were plenty of stories of heroism for the media to tell, that they all too frequently ignored. Interestingly enough Vieira's own colleague, Andrea Mitchell, on April 4, 2005 did mention the story of one "appealing" hero, that of the late Sergeant Paul Smith who earned the Medal of Honor, as Mitchell recounted then: