Here’s the e-mail I sent to the Readers’ Representative today regarding the paper’s apparent misstatement regarding when General Hagee briefed John Murtha about Haditha:
Back in May and June, I asked you about a May 26 L.A. Times story on the alleged Haditha massacre (Probe Finds Marines Killed Unarmed Iraqi Civilians), which said that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) was briefed by Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee before Murtha went to the press to denounce the killings:
Hagee briefed key congressional leaders on the upcoming report. One of those, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a retired Marine colonel, said later that Marines “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”
I wrote you to ask if you were sure this was accurate. You replied that it was, saying: “what has run in the Times has been accurate.”
We now learn that, according to General Hagee, it wasn’t. Reuters reported on Thursday:
The head of the U.S. Marine Corps briefed Rep. John Murtha on the Haditha case after the vocal war critic publicly said Marines had killed innocent civilians in that Iraqi city, the Corps said on Thursday.
I have a few questions:
1) Will you be issuing a correction to the May 26 article?
2) Did anyone ever contact Gen. Hagee to ask him whether he had indeed briefed Murtha before Murtha spoke publicly about Haditha?
3) What was your basis for saying that the paper had reported this information accurately, when it now appears that it hadn’t?
I think my readers would be interested to know the answers to these questions.
As always, I’ll let you know what I hear in response.