Worst of the Web Today: Taranto distorted Media Matters' Murtha coverage

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

James Taranto falsely claimed that Media Matters for America "cheered" Rep. John Murtha's call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq but also "denied that he had done any such thing." In fact, Media Matters neither endorsed nor condemned Murtha's proposal, nor did we deny Murtha called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Media Matters instead corrected those in the media who falsely claimed that Murtha called for an "immediate withdrawal" or who falsely referred to Rep. Duncan Hunter's one-sentence resolution calling for immediate withdrawal as the "Murtha amendment."

In his March 10 "Best of the Web Today" column, Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto falsely claimed that Media Matters for America "cheered" Rep. John P. Murtha's (D-PA) call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq but also "denied that he had done any such thing." Media Matters neither endorsed nor condemned Murtha's proposal, nor did we deny Murtha called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Instead, Media Matters corrected those in the media -- such as Taranto -- who falsely claimed that Murtha called for an "immediate withdrawal," or who falsely referred to Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-CA) one-sentence resolution calling for immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces as the "Murtha amendment."

Hunter's proposal, which stated simply -- "Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately" -- was defeated in the House 403-3 and was described in news reports as a "political trap" that was "aimed at embarrassing war critics." Murtha's November 17, 2005, proposal -- House Joint Resolution 73 -- called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq "at the earliest practicable date." Murtha's resolution was never voted upon. As The Washington Post reported on November 19, 2005, "Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) drafted a simpler resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops, saying it was a fair interpretation of Murtha's intent."

From Taranto's March 10 "Best of the Web" column:

"Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran who has denounced the war in Iraq, was named a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Thursday," the Associated Press reports. The award is given out by the JFK presidential library:

Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, was recognized "for the difficult and courageous decision of conscience he made in November 2005, when he reversed his support for the Iraq war and called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the conflict," the foundation said in a statement.

What's weird is that when Murtha proposed withdrawal, many of those who cheered him on denied that he had done any such thing. Here, for instance, is a MediaMatters.org item denouncing us:

Taranto also falsely referred to a previous proposal (House Resolution 571) for immediate withdrawal as Rep. John P. "Murtha's" (D-PA). The proposal that Taranto labeled as "Murtha's" was, in fact, a one-sentence Republican proposal sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that news reports described as a "political trap" that was "aimed at embarrassing war critics." As Media Matters for America has documented, Taranto has also falsely attributed this position to Murtha in the past.

Granted, Murtha doesn't run MediaMatters, but if he's so courageous, why are his backers so eager to distance him from his own views?

Taranto linked to this Media Matters item, which was correcting him -- for the second time -- for referring to Hunter's proposal as "Murtha's." Taranto has yet to acknowledge these errors. Nothing in the portion of the item Taranto quoted indicates that Media Matters "denied" Murtha called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

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