By Uri Friedman May 05, 2011
The White House’s account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has undergone some revisions in recent days–a fact White House press secretary Jay Carney (pictured above) attributed to a “fog of war” atmosphere as information continues to stream in. But that explanation hasn’t been sufficient for some journalists, who are beginning to grumble on Twitter.
The changing story has drawn considerable criticism, notably from analysts on the left, where there was already ambivalence about celebrating bin Laden’s death. Salon‘s Justin Elliott has been hitting hard, claiming the Pentagon’s report from Monday now “reads like fiction” and writing “on my way to becoming a Deather with latest story change that there was no big firefight after all.” Filmmaker Michael Moore observes, “The Pentagon lied about the Jessica Lynch rescue & they really lied about Pat Tillman. They’ve already changed their OBL story 3x in 3days..” Bin Laden, states author Joe McGinniss, “was unarmed, we killed him. Spinning it like self-defense is as wrong as Vietnam.”
Elsewhere on Twitter, Politico‘s Ben Smith writes, “Admin could have avoided all this grief by just making up a story out of whole cloth and sticking to it, as is traditional,” while Slate’s Dave Weigel tweets, “Tomorrow, admin sources will revise story. bin Laden actually in purgatory” (where a majority of CNN poll respondents believe he is). Weigel also cites the claim from administration officials in the Times report that bin Laden had an AK-47 and Makarov pistol in arm’s reach: “So was one in hand and one in arm’s reach? STUPID LANGUAGE.”
Then there’s Time‘s Bobby Ghosh, who says “methinks media would not have been so understanding if it was Bush in the WH now, making so many mistakes in announcement of #OBL‘s killing,” adding, “‘Fog of War’ excuse doesn’t wash. How many factual errors did Bush White House make in announcing Saddam’s capture… or Zarqawi’s killing?” Ghosh delivers one more parting shot: “By claiming ‘fog of war’ the WH is suggesting Seals gave wrong first information. If there was a fog, it was in the WH. Fog of politics.”
To catch you up, here are some of the main ways the story has changed in recent days:
Tip of the Hat to George Donnelly at Facebook.