Update: Monday morning 4/5/2008
We just heard from a very gracious Emily Johns about how the Star Tribune will be running a correction for its unintentional error in identifying Congressman Walz as an Iraq War veteran. Others who contacted the Star Tribune asking for a correction have received a similar message.
We thank Johns for taking the time to contact us about the issue and appreciate the editors taking the time to fix the problem.
Contacted by phone, Chris Schmitters, campaign manager for Tim Walz, noted that he had emailed the Star Tribune and asked for a correction as well. The paper had agreed to do so.
We hope that other bloggers who have written about the gaffe will note the correction. Fair is fair.
The highest ranking enlisted man to ever serve in Congress, Tim Walz retired with the rank of Command Sergeant Major in the Army National Guard. He served in Italy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the military campaign in Afghanistan.
It's all good. [end Monday update]
Update: 3:22 p.m. We've been hearing from a lot of friends that they've contacted the Strib's corrections email address, and yet the error of fact remains in the story. This inaction stands in stark contrast to the way MinnPost handled its earlier mistaken identification of Walz as an Iraq War vet. Kudos to the Minnpost for changing its post as soon as the editors knew.
That diligence on the part of MinnPost speaks for itself. As for the Strib? Who knows--maybe it's short handed this lovely day, or maybe it's just coasting on getting the "essense" right, the new standard introduced here by the defender of another recent media gaffe. [end update]
We have to wonder sometimes if some members of the metro media care one wit about accuracy and the consequences of their inaccuracy.
Sarvi is now the third Iraq veteran running for Congress in Minnesota as a Democrat this fall: The other two are Ashwin Madia, the endorsed DFL candidate in the Third District, and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who represents the state's First District.
We scolded MinnPost for making the same mistake earlier this year, and explained then why accuracy in reporting service records matter in Just plain irritating sloppiness: Grow's DFL Iraq War vets column in MinnPost.
Sure enough, a Walz hater chimes in about the congressman's record:
Tim Walz is NOT an Iraqi War Veteran
Tim Walz has never served in Iraq and also NEVER served in Afghanistan. He spent his war on terrorism tour serving coffee in Vincenza, Italy. The Star Tribune continues to write this lie and has done so on almost every occasion, and of course Mr. Walz, the good weekend warrior that he is, never bothers to correct it. Once again, Tim Walz is not a war veteran of any kind and is not even authorized to belong to the VFW because he has never served in a combat zone. Just ask him.smithjamese
That "never bothers to correct it" is simply false. But the GOP can certainly thank the Strib and other media outlets for not being able to get simple facts right and creating an opportunity for a little smearing.
When Walz is asked about his service, he's straight forward. Take this passage from a City Pages interview from the summer of 2006:
CP: You are a member of the Minnesota National Guard. How long was your active service?
Walz: I did two stints where I was full-time. I did it in 1989 and then again in 1992. Then in '03 and '04 I did 10 months with Operation Enduring Freedom, where, by luck of the draw, I served in Italy. It was originally Turkey or Iraq and then they changed it to Enduring Freedom and I said, "That's Afghanistan." But they said, "You guys are going to do the supply lines between Turkey and England." We provided total base security and the training for soldiers coming in.
We hope the Strib will correct its mistake as quickly as the editors at the Minnpost did. It's to their credit that the error was corrected as quickly as it was at Minnpost. Everybody makes mistakes--but sadly, not all media venues correct them. Some perpetuate them--and assist in sliming.
But you have to wonder: is calling National Guard members "weekend warriors" really a sound way to win a battle? It's an insult to those who serve in the Guard. Walz went where he was deployed--and whether that service means watching the American-Mexican border, battling floods, keeping the peace in Kosovo, supporting operations in Italy, driving trucks in Kuwait, or combat in Iraq and Afghanistan--it's all honorable.
My own father, who had been in the Army just after the Korean War, served in the National Guard in the 1970s, and he took those "weekend warrior" barbs as an insult. They are.
Those who use the incompetence of the Strib or any other media to report basic facts accurately as the basis for smears are quite simply pathetic.
In the meantime, please contact the Star Tribune corrections email and politely request that the article be corrected. Politely explain why it's important that the paper get this right.