Friday, January 05, 2007

Kerry and the troops photo shows Michelle Malkin's unreliability

A photo of John Kerry eating breakfast "alone" in the U.S. Embassy mess hall in Baghdad was circulating in the right-wing blogosphere, touted as evidence that he was shunned by the troops. The left-wing blogosphere's initial response was to question the authenticity of the photo due to the erroneous date/time stamp on the photo (caused by the photographer failing to set the date on the camera) and the presence of the flags of Britain and Portugal in the background (which other photos and personnel on site have confirmed are really there--and the Portugal one will be removed since Portugal no longer has personnel in Iraq).

Michelle Malkin supplied evidence of the authenticity of the photo (but failed to recognize that it disproved her claim of Kerry being snubbed) by locating another photograph with Kerry, wearing the same shirt, sitting and eating with the troops. She then harshly criticized those who argued that the photograph was a fake, throwing out charges of "hysterics" and "moonbattery."

But now Greg Sargent at TPM Muckraker has tracked down the details of what Kerry was doing sitting with at least one person in a suit (visible in the photo--Kerry was clearly not alone)--he was intentionally sitting away from everyone else in order to have an off-the-record conversation with two reporters, Marc Santora of The New York Times and Mark Danner of The New York Review and The New Yorker. They confirm that Kerry was not being snubbed by the troops, and in fact soldiers stopped by during their conversation to ask for photographs with Kerry:
"Santora was to my right," Danner also said. "It was very early in the morning at about 8:30, in the green zone. The reason that people weren't sitting directly around us was that we were having a private conversation." Asked if the troops showed animosity to Kerry, Danner said: "Not in any way that I noticed. A number of soldiers came up and asked to have their photograph taken with him."
This is typical of Malkin--right on a specific detail (the photo was genuine) but completely wrong in the overall argument (that Kerry was being snubbed by the troops). Will she or the other conservative bloggers who have made the claim that Kerry was eating alone because he was snubbed by the troops admit their error?

UPDATE (February 1, 2007): Snopes also has coverage of this Malkin claim.

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