Rick Perry: Stop Reporting Mean Things About Chris Kyle. | Gradient
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Rick Perry: Stop reporting mean things about Chris Kyle.

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As you may have heard, The Intercept dropped a bombshell report on “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, claiming that he had fudged his military record. According to the piece, Kyle, the most decorated sniper in history “embellished his military record, according to internal Navy documents obtained by The Intercept. During his 10 years of military service and four deployments, Kyle earned one Silver Star and three Bronze Stars with Valor, a record confirmed by Navy officials.” [emphasis mine]

This flies in contrast to Kyle’s book, where he wrote: “All told, I would end my career as a SEAL with two Silver Stars and five Bronze [Stars], all for valor.” Kyle was tragically killed by a fellow veteran in 2013.

This is a black eye on an already complicated legacy, and now former Texas governor Rick Perry has swooped in to rescue that legacy from pesky journalists. In an op-ed for Fox News, the long-suffering Perry writes “this article is part of a disturbing trend in the left-leaning press to undermine the heroism of men and women who are willing to risk their lives in the defense of our nation’s freedom” and blames it as “a byproduct of nearly eight years of an arch-liberal in the Oval Office.”

Perry’s argument is that journalists don’t know enough about the military to make claims like this. He writes that The Intercept’s reporters are “a writing team for a leftwing publication whose only knowledge of the military was likely acquired while Googling derogatory slogans to scrawl on protest signs.”

Perry could have stood to do a little Googling himself, as the article’s authors are Matthew Cole, who has spent over a decade covering national security, including multiple investigative reporting assignments in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and Sheelagh McNeill, who discovered that Al Qaeda was being funded by European countries. There is truth to the claim that citizens could never understand what it’s like to be in combat, but it’s hard to see how this would apply to serious discrepancies about a war record.

As proof that these journalists just don’t get it, Perry writes that Kyle’s separation document (known as the DD-214) actually lists Kyle’s final medal count as two Silver Stars and six Bronze Stars — which is closer to the account listed in his book, although still off on the Bronze Medal count. “As any veteran will tell you,” Perry writes, “a DD-214 is THE definitive record of a person’s time in the military.” According to Perry, the DD-214 represents a nigh-biblical account of time served in the military, and if the DD-214 says something is so then all other documentation — including the Navy’s own — is irrelevant.

Perry does not mention that this information, including the DD-214’s medal count, was actually covered in-depth in The Intercept’s original article. He also does not mention that the reporters interviewed Navy officials about the DD-214’s discrepancy, and were told that “the process involves people and inevitably some errors may occur.” He also does not explain why Kyle’s DD-214 exonerates him from discrepancies in his own medal count, given the two are still at odds, beyond saying that “if there is any inaccuracy in Kyle’s account it’s that he didn’t take ENOUGH credit for his awards.”

Perry also does not mention that the Navy wrote Kyle before the publication of American Sniper, warning him that his medal count was off. Why Kyle chose to ignore these warnings is anyone’s guess.

Perry closes by calling on “people of conscience” to call for the “retraction and deletion of the offending article.” This is an incredible plea, asking journalists to delete a piece of reporting — one which discusses Perry’s own misgivings in-depth — simply “to honor the memory of an American hero.” Kyle’s heroism in combat is beyond question. The Intercept article affirms this repeatedly through the recollections of soldiers who served alongside him. What is in question here is his record, which has glaring errors which Kyle apparently knew about and did not correct. Asking The Intercept to delete the article is another example of myths of American greatness being weighted over the facts. If Kyle lied about how many medals he earned then preserving that legacy doesn’t “honor his memory.” It only tarnishes the truth.

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