Harvard Swim Blog Investigates NYT Blumenthal Coverage

The New York Times caused quite a stir last week when it published a story claiming that Connecticut attorney general and Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal had, among other things, falsely claimed he had served in the Vietnam War.

Debate ensued as to whether the Times had given fair treatment to Blumenthal, who has since apologized for the times he did say misleading things about his service record. But lost in all the military-related issues of the Blumenthal case was another stinging allegation by the Times: that Blumenthal had fudged the facts about whether he was a member of the Harvard swim team during college.

Here’s what the Times story said:

In two largely favorable profiles, the Slate article and a magazine article in The Hartford Courant in 2004 with which he cooperated, Mr. Blumenthal is described prominently as having served as captain of the swim team at Harvard. Records at the college show that he was never on the team.

Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving Annals, a WordPress-domained blog that is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, investigates the Times‘ reporting of Blumenthal’s aquatic activities, concluding that the Grey lady “blunders” in its claim that Blumenthal was never on the team:

Records at the college (or rather, records once at the college and now in our possession as the steward of Harvard swimming historical materials handed to us by the coaches) show that Richard Blumenthal of New York, N.Y., (5’11”, 180 pounds) swam freestyle sprints and relays on the 1963-64 freshman team. What records? The actual 1963-64 freshman dual meet score book and the mimeographed team roster, both of which we have. No, Richard was not captain.

Despite evidence that Blumenthal did swim on Harvard’s freshman team, the Times has stuck with its reporting.

“A lot of terrific 18-year-old swimmers, some of whom set national freshman records while barred under NCAA rules from competing on the varsity, might be distressed to learn that they were ‘never on the team,'” quips the Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving Annals.

(h/t Capitol Watch)