Media Coverage of Military Hero Being Stripped of Health Insurance Proven False

February 13th, 2013 12:57 PM

In a careless attempt to get a rise out of their readers, mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post and Esquire Magazine erroneously reported that the Navy SEAL credited with the assassination of Osama bin Laden had been unceremoniously stripped of health insurance following his retirement last September.

The story immediately went viral, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff from the Post and their massive followings on Twitter. Former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Phil Bronstein originally posted an 'exhaustively researched' article about it on Esquire's site. Upon its publication and online distribution however, some readers noticed just how rife with inaccuracies the story was. Former public affairs officer of the Department of Veteran Affairs Brandon Friedman was among them. (H/T - Twitchy)

Armed with a link to the Veterans Affairs website, Friedman's intention was to set the record straight. As it turns out, the vast majority of combat veterans are eligible for at least five years of free health care through the VA. While "it depends on disability rating and income," the "[b]ottom line, he's covered. He just may not know it."

By mentioning the authors' Twitter handles, Friedman caught the attention of a much wider audience than he otherwise could've. Bronstein quickly responded, thanking Friedman for the information but then refused to be held accountable for his own carelessness by insisting that he had included this provision in his nearly 15,000 word article. Not so fast, as Twitchy noted, other Twitter users were quick to point out that it wasn't.

In an interview with the Stars and Stripes blog, Bronstein defended himself for what he omitted. "The assertion that the government gave the SEAL ‘nothing’ in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed,” he said.

What's so ironic is what he thinks is irrelevant actually contradicts the thesis of what he wrote. All that time and effort was all for naught.

Chalk up another victory to the vigilance of skeptical, fact-checking readers on social media. The days of the mainstream media always getting away with gross inaccuracies is certainly a thing of the past.