Mark Kirk Military Service Story Was Born In The Blogosphere, Ignored By 'Hardball' Producers
In the 2010 campaign, the new new thing is apparently lying about one's service record. It began with the Linda McMahon camp tipping off the New York Times to a video of Richard Blumenthal embellishing his record, and several Connecticut newspapers carrying that particular ball over the goal line.
Now it's would-be Illinois Senator and current Representative Mark Kirk who is in the cross-hairs.
This story is currently being tipped into the national consciousness by the Washington Post. But before we get too ahead of ourselves and credit the Post for being the story-breaker (and full disclosure: we have already gotten too far ahead of ourselves and done so), it's worth pointing out that this story was born in the oft-maligned blogosphere.
In 2005, a political tussle in Ohio led to Rep. Jean Schmidt claiming that Rep. Mark Kirk (who's currently running for Barack Obama's former Senate seat) was a "veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom." It was news to me that any politician had served in Iraq by that time and, as it turned out, it wasn't true. Mark Kirk was claiming on his campaign site to be "the only member of Congress to serve stateside during Operation Iraqi Freedom," which was true, but on his official web site he claimed to be "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." To say you have served in a campaign is precisely the sort of falsehood for which Richard Blumenthal has been castigated for the past few days.
The site attempted to get answers from Kirk, to no avail:
Yet, whereas Blumenthal repeatedly pointed out in speeches that he had served "during" Vietnam--with that noteable slip-up--and then corrected the record when the mistake was pointed out, Kirk's office refused to address the falsehood on his web site for more than 50 days after I first contacted him, despite the fact the Navy's Office of Information agreed that, because Kirk had never served in Iraq during Iraqi Freedom, he had no right to claim to be an Iraqi Freedom veteran.
In the end, Kirk's staff simply changed the site without comment or apology.
There was a fruitless effort to get the attention of the media, in this case MSNBC's "Hardball" show:
And yet, I have been making phone calls to members of the media today, including to producers of Chris Matthews, who have refused to speak to me about the issue.
In the meantime, Welch found another blogger already hot on the case -- specifically, Ellen Of The Tenth (District)'s Carl Nyburg --, and started sending his readers there for more details. The collective effort started garnering results: the Kirk campaign was forced to run this item on its website, clarifying the matter.
May 29 saw the Post drilling down on the story, and now, it's become a capital-T Thing. "Good news," said Welch about the pickup. But I think it's worth pointing out that it's news made good thanks to the efforts of some unsung bloggers.
For its part, Nitpicker has provided the essential "where do we go from here" strategy.