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Newsbuster Swiftboating of Weiler Taking on Water

The conservative "media monitoring" site Newsbusters is busily swiftboating John Weiler, a lifelong Republican who appears in the MoveOn.org sponsored Obama TV ad competition winner. It looks to me like they may have gotten this one wrong - dead wrong, and deserve the proverbial pie in the face because of it.

Here's the ad, which I posted last night:

Less than 12 hours later readers are responding in the comment section of the post. First we hear from Ron:

As a Air Force 30 year old enlisted retiree I think he is a fake. He said he was in the Air Force for 6 years, 1983-1989 and made MSgt in 6 years. It just doesn't happen. Newsbusters.com said the same thing.

And then JLawson adds his concern:

Ditto on the time in rank/time in grade thing. MSgt in 6 years? He'd be doing good to have been selected for WAPS testing and done well enough to make Staff Sergeant - E-5, and there's no way he could have been bumped to E-7. (Actually, there's one way. But he wouldn't have wanted to do it, and it's pretty unlikely.)

Minimum MSgt eligibility requirements are 8 years Time in Service, 24 months Time in Grade, and finishing Supervisory Level (7-level) training. Minimum Tech Sergeant (E-6) Time in Service is 5 years, Time in Grade is 23 months. Virtually nobody makes the minimums, no matter how much of a star you are. You've got promotion cycles to consider (which are usually annual) and you DON'T get to test before you're eligible.

So overall? Smells bogus to me on the rank...

So I fact checked the fact checkers, and found that there is a bit of a spin going on by Newsbusters - they write:

"He served in the Air Force from 1983 to 1989, leaving the service as a master sergeant," according to the AP. Is that not amazing? The Air Force Enlisted Promotions Fact Sheet shows promotion to Master Sergeant (E-7) requires eight years in the service. According to Military.com, "The average service wide active duty time for advancement to the rank of Master Sergeant is 17.06 years."

"Master Sergeant" isn't what the AP story says at all:

He served in the Air Force from 1983 to 1989, leaving the service as a staff sergeant. He said he has two nephews in the Air Force and one nephew attending Army tanker school and has grown to oppose the war in Iraq.

It appears that Newsbusters misquoted - flat out misquoted -- the AP story, then proceeded to swiftboat this veteran across the blogosphere. Why? Because he's a Republican veteran who plans to vote for Obama. They appear to be desperate in their attempt to discredit Weiler - and look at the speed with which their lie spreads....

Here's what the Air Force chart linked to in the Newsbusters post says about the time required to reach the grades in question:

AF_Sgt_Grades.jpg

It appears from this that Staff Sergeant (SSgt) only requires three years, and Weiler served for six.

Why would Newsbusters spin this -- blatantly misquoting an AP story?

Update: Commenter Eric points out that the AP story lists a correction at the bottom of this version stating that they had previously listed Weiler as Master Sergeant, and correcting the story to indicate that Weiler was a Staff Sergeant.

And I found a comment by JeffWeimer in the Newsbusters thread timestamped 10pm ET last night - 14 hours ago - citing this correction.

Here we are 14 hours later, and Newsbusters has not posted a correction. They've allowed their lie to continue without correction, and if you read the Newsbusters comment thread readers there are still treating the story as factual, and this lie is spreading across the blogosphere.

Check out this freeze frame of the video to see just how far and just how desperate Newsbusters was to swiftboat this Republican vet who dared say he intended to vote for Obama.

Weiler_title_freeze.jpg

Not only did Weiler not "say he'd made Master Sergeant" - the video identifies him as a Staff Sergeant - plain as day.

I'm glad we have watchdog sites like Newsbusters around to keep that liberal media from spreading its lies.... aren't you?

Update II: John Weiler's wife Michelle contributes in the comment thread of the original post post - link.

Update III: Here we are, exactly one week later -- still no correction on this story from Newsbusters. Perhaps they should change their name to Newsliars instead...


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Comments (19)

Eric:

Lee read this version (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gvI4q-zRa63S6jYz74eTXpW8cH1QD90KFE902) and go to the very LAST line of the AP article.

Which says: "(This version CORRECTS SUBS 8th graf, He served ..., to correct to staff sergeant, sted master sergeant.) "

Why would Newsbusters spin this -- blatantly misquoting an AP story?

Because the original AP story incorrectly listed him as a Master Sergeant. Seems to me that there is no grand conspiracy here. The AP got it wrong and so did Newsbusters based on AP's error.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

There's no correction on the Newsbusters story, Eric. AP corrected their story, and Newsbusters didn't.

You don't find that odd? I do.

Lee Ward:

In fact, checking the comment thread of the Newsbusters post there a commenter cites the AP correction at 10pm ET last night. Here we are at noon ET the next day -- 14 hours later -- and Newsbusters hasn't corrected their post - and meanwhile their lie is spreading like wildfire.

It is no longer " a mistake" and is instead an intentional lie, in my book - when it is this obvious.

Eric:

If they never correct the story then yes, that is wrong. But considering that they only posted the story about 17 hours ago and the AP issued it's correction since that time, have some patience.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Sure - let the story spread around for a day or two - then correct it - if they ever correct it all. That's the right wing blogosphere's SOP.

How many people are going to read the entire comment thread of the newsbuster post in order to find the truth? A tiny fraction of the readership.

Eric:

Now it has become an intentional lie when you write a post based on an error in the original story? Come on Lee. Now you are just being unreasonable. I agree that Newsbusters has a responsibility to correct the story in a reasonable amount of time. But to say they haven't done in 14 hrs means they are evil liars is NOT reasonable.

How about you Lee? Why haven't you corrected your story.

You said

It appears that Newsbusters misquoted - flat out misquoted -- the AP story, then proceeded to swiftboat this veteran across the blogosphere.

The AP did originally call John Weiler a Master Sergeant. So Newsbusters' original article based was in good faith. You smeared Newsbusters as intentionally misquoting the AP story. You were wrong, Newsbusters did correctly quote the AP, the AP got it wrong.

I pointed that out to you almost an hour ago and yet you are continuing to smear Newsbusters.

Why haven't you issued a correction yet Lee?

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I just did - I was working on it as you posted your last comment -- and it didn't take 14 hours now did it? I grabbed a freeze frame and wrote it up - in all of about 5 minutes, tops.

The editors at Newsbusters have known for 14+ hours and haven't bothered to correct the story, letting it spread around the blogosphere instead.

Eric:

The editors at Newsbusters have known for 14+ hours and haven't bothered to correct the story, letting it spread around the blogosphere instead

I haven't found any evidence that this is burning up the blogosphere.

Ace of Spades - no mention at all

Instapundit - no mention at all

Polipundit - no mention at all

Hot Air - mentions the MoveOn selection, no mention of rank

Michelle Malkin - no mention at all

Powerline - no mention at all

The Anchoress - no mention at all

Rush Limbaugh - no mention at all

Jawa Report - no mention at all

Patterico's Pontifications - no mention at all

Blackfive - no mention at all

Just one Minute - no mention at all

What evidence do you have that this is burning up the blogosphere?

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Nice try... I said "spreading" not "burning". Newsbusters' blunder showed up here, didn't it. It spread this far - two commenters mentioned it before i could fact check them. I wonder if these same two commenters are linking back to the bogus Newsbusters BS on other liberal blogs as well?

I don't have time to search for it elsewhere - nor do I have time to check to see if and when Newsbusters ever corrects their post.

Why don't you post an update here, Eric - - since you're so interested in this story - and let everyone know when Newsbusters finally corrects their mistake. If ever...

Meanwhile - 15 hours and counting...

JLawson:

Re Staff Sergeant - he MIGHT have been able to make Staff in 6. It took me seven and a half before I sewed on Staff, and an additional 7 before I made Tech.

Staff in 6? Possible. Tech in 6? Very unlikely. Master in 6? Nope. Chance of AP putting out bad info to begin with? Very high.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Chances of Newsbusters correcting this huge bit of misinformation...?

Zero so far - 15 hours later.

JLawson:

Chances of me looking at Newsbusters?

0-5%. I was simply reacting to your original post. :)

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

22 hours after the original post - still no correction from Newsbusters.

Michelle:

This is specifically addressed to JLawson's comment

"Re Staff Sergeant - he MIGHT have been able to make Staff in 6. It took me seven and a half before I sewed on Staff, and an additional 7 before I made Tech.

Staff in 6? Possible. Tech in 6? Very unlikely. Master in 6? Nope. Chance of AP putting out bad info to begin with? Very high."

Now you doubt that he was able make Staff Sergeant in 6 years? Just because it took you 7 1/2 years doesn't mean someone else can't do it in less time. I wonder, if the AP had correctly stated the John was a SSGT when he left the Air Force, would you still carry the same doubt? Based on your above posting, I believe you would. How dare you doubt his service to this country? I'll also have you know that as soon as John read the AP article, he contacted the AP reporter to advise of the error. He didn't want something like this to happen. Obviously, it didn't matter because the web his now serving to smear the reputation of a good man because of a mistake (which has been corrected) by a reporter...John is who he is and always will be. He has done nothing to try to be anyone else.

Lee - please note I didn't say he COULDN'T make Staff in 6 years. MASTER in 6 would be pretty near impossible.

Here's what I gather based on the two posts you made, and what I remember from my own experience. I haven't been to Newsbusters, I haven't seen this anywhere else. I chimed in because I wanted to give the information regarding time in service/time in grade requirements for promotion, and to point out that Master in 6 is a real stretch.

As I posted in your previous one - "Ditto on the time in rank/time in grade thing. MSgt in 6 years? He'd be doing good to have been selected for WAPS testing and done well enough to make Staff Sergeant - E-5." Which he apparently did.

He didn't make Master. He made Staff. So how was I wrong on this? I'm ripping him down because I was skeptical he made Master? Sheesh. Try to toss out information/opinion relevant to a post, and look at the thanks I get.

You'll also note I had no - that's NO, ZERO, ZILCH, NONE AT ALL - comments about his politics, and I didn't label him a poser or fake. If you got that from what I wrote, that's your interpretation. All I put up was information on regulations.

Now, obviously I haven't seen his records, but I imagine he was a 6-year enlistee. (The reason for that is below.) I don't know what career field he was in, but there were some where, due to shortages, people got promoted as fast as their Time In Service/Time In Grade allowed, if they managed to get their 5 and 7 levels out of the way and did well testing.

If he were a 6-year wonder, (the AF had a program then where if you enlist for 6 years you made Airman First Class (E-3) right out of tech school) then he could have sewn on E-4 about 2-3 years in - and once he got TIG/TIS requirements satisfied he could test for Staff. If he made the requisite scores, and his field needed more Staff Sergeants, he could have sewn it on before 6. Not very LONG before six, though! (Oddly enough, fields where there were shortages also usually have hefty re-enlistment bonuses. But that's as may be.)

You said "I wonder, if the AP had correctly stated the John was a SSGT when he left the Air Force, would you still carry the same doubt?"

Nope. Because I doubted he was a Master Sergeant, not a Staff. Such a thing would have been quite possible. But Master? Damn near impossible, which is why I posted what I did. That HE corrected the AP is a good thing - and earns him serious points. It's not often someone gets to tell a reporter they're wrong when the story has already hit the wires!

You said "Based on your above posting, I believe you would." Lee - because I say "Master's near impossible in 6 years", it doesn't follow at all that I'd say "He couldn't have been a Staff."

Let's go over what I posted at 1:29pm.

"Staff in 6? Possible." It didn't happen in most career fields, though. I've known 20-year Staff Sergeants, stuck through no fault of their own.

"Tech in 6? Very unlikely." For reasons of time in grade, time in service. See the regs you clipped.

"Master in 6? Nope." Again, for reasons having to do with the regulations - and time in service/time in grade. I'm not making this stuff up out of nothing, Lee.

Now if the guy were claiming MASTER in 6, I'd still call it bogus, for the reasons above. But he's not. Staff in 6? I've got no reason to doubt it.

Please don't twist my words, Lee. Heaven knows there's a lot of ignorance about the mundane details of simple things in the military like promotions and rank. If you seriously believe I'd slam the guy for making Staff in 6, well, you're dead wrong on that. If you think that writing "Possible" after "Staff in 6" means I think he couldn't/didn't do it, then I'm thinking we're not speaking the same language at all.

Michelle - I apologize. I got mixed up on who was writing what. The post above should have been to you.

Please note I was NOT slamming your husband for being a SSgt, but expressing skepticism on a 6-year MSgt. There is a significant difference between the two, as I hope you appreciate.

I applaude you defending your husband. He has every right to be proud of his service, and of you for standing up for him. As I said - serious points to him for correcting the AP. God knows that doesn't happen often enough.

And now that I've made a fool of myself by posting a reply to the wrong person, I'm going to apologize to all and sundry for being so long-winded in my replies.

G'night, all.

bryanD:

Lee, Good post. And funny.
I expect Newsbusters will bury the whole affair under filler postings. It will probably be deep on page 3 or 4 by tonight, never to be spoken of again.

As for promotions in rank, under E-7 almost anything is possible. I've seen a 2 1/2 year E-5 who was so squared-away it made me sick. Nice guy, though (behind the brutal facade).

Michelle:

JLawson,

I do realize that you had to defend yourself quite a bit. I am glad to see that with the correction to SSGT, you now accept John's service now as plausible.

I also apologize if my previous comment came off as harsh and critical in whether or not you discussed John's political views. That was not my intention. I merely wanted to defend his record.

Thank you for your apologies. It is much appreciated.


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