May 02, 2004

"Ranger? I never even touched 'er!"

Updating yesterday's little Micah Wright item, looks like he's cut out sections of his "apology" that people have been quoting. Actually, about 3 pages are missing, everything from "That ended my involvement with the military" to "So why come clean now, you ask?" Here's the same document as of yesterday, if you're curious about the stuff he deleted for whatever reason. Don't know what made me think to save it to my hard drive... Hmmm, and as Kevin at Thought Balloons points out, the date's been changed from April 15 to April 25, too. Weird. (I edit stuff after posting it too, but only to clarify and correct and add stupid jokes, never to change facts. But let's not assume.)

The Washington Post has a story about it this morning. Probably just a coincidence. According to the article, Wright knew they were getting ready to expose him, after questions arose about their profile of him last year, and he then admitted his tiny little oopsie to his publisher (who has now cancelled his upcoming book). So I'm looking forward to reading more about how brave he is for stepping forward and all that.

The story is spreading pretty fast through the sphere o' blogs, so anything I can say about it you've probably read already. Except this: All else aside, I probably wouldn't have blogged about this, or told Michele at A Small Victory, who has about a zillion percent more readers, or even given a shit, if Wright hadn't been such an unbelievable asshole to my friend (and blog-host) Kevin Parrott. It's one thing to take issue with a critic, but Wright's behavior was just beyond the pale. Throwing his "Ranger experience" in Kevin's face was the least of it, really. So in addition to the life lesson of, "Don't tell every single person you meet that you were Special Forces, when you actually have as much military experience as Flounder from Animal House," another lesson might be, "Don't be such an astonishing dickweed to anybody who questions your infallibility." It pays to be civil, folks, even when somebody's misguided enough to disagree with you. Reap, sow, etc.

P.S. When I say I probably wouldn't have given a shit, I don't mean to belittle anybody who's upset that Wright has dishonored genuine veterans to try to promote his career and silence his critics. I recognize that aspect of it on an intellectual level, but it just doesn't irritate me as much as what he did to a friend of mine. Hey, I'm a petty dork, I admit it.

P.P.S. Over at A Small Victory, the Washington Post's Richard Leiby left a comment:

I want your blog readers to know that the only reason Micah Wright came clean on his lies last week is because I pursued three FOIA requests with separate US Army commands, seeking proof of his service, after he failed to provide documentation to me. Despite common perceptions, it is not easy for a reporter to verify the service of anyone with a Ranger background, or anyone who claims to have been associated with Special Forces. I did not have Wright's social security number and he refused to provide any validating information, aside from his birthdate. I filed the FOIA requests to follow up on the July 2003 article I wrote about Wright. When I finally verified in April 2004 that he had never served as an Army Ranger (each FOIA took months for processing), I called his publisher and demanded that the publisher press Wright for documentation of his alleged service. The publisher called Wright in the last week of April and he confessed his lies. I decided to write the story in my Sunday (2 May) column, and wanted to get a comment from Wright, which I did when he called me on Friday evening.

Putting aside the significance of the Post guy clarifying details of his story on a blog, it points out something else that's starting to bug me about this. I'm seeing this whole thing referred to as a "hoax," which doesn't seem quite accurate. The term "hoax" has a sort of "just kidding!" connotation that doesn't apply here. If Wright is a hoaxer, then so is Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, that guy from USA Today whose name I can't remember, and so on. This wasn't some sort of performance-art piece to point out the credulity of the media, or whatever bullshit spin will be put on it. The guy lied and lied and lied to shut up people who disagreed with him, and to get his foot in the door as a writer/pundit/whatever. He only told the truth when it became clear that his arrogant deflections weren't working anymore and he had no choice. Do you really think he came clean, the day before it became national news, out of the goodness of his heart? (Well, you don't believe that, obviously; I think more highly of you than that. But some people will fall for it.) If Leiby hadn't pursued it, I'm guessing Wright would be spending his weekend typing up some more "You don't know what it's like in the shit, man!" e-mails, instead of sweating through his shirt and trying to cover his tracks. Anyway, let's reserve the term "hoax" for Captain Janks and the like, huh?

P.P.P.S. On his Delphi forum (registration required), Wright explains why he severely edited his "apology." Presented without comment:

When I started calling my friends and co-workers this week, they all said the same thing: "Dude, you'd better explain what was going on in your head when you started lying about this or you're going to be roasted alive."

So, I did. I made the mistake of putting those thoughts into the same document as the apology itself.

Evidently some people can't tell the difference between an apology and a Jayson Blair-esque attempt to spin the truth. Therefore I am officially redacting my apology to seven short paragraphs. I haven't added a single word, only removed. So now, when people say "Dude, what was this guy thinking?" you can say "Well, he tried to explain it, but people mistook explaining what was going on in his head with spin, so he removed it."

Unlike Jayson Blair, I'm not saying I was on drugs, I'm not saying that anyone made me do it, I'm not saying it's the Corporate Media's fault, I'm not saying any of that, so stop putting words in my fucking mouth. :)

I lied, I'm sorry. Done.

Postscript the fourth: Funny stuff. Oh, and another bit from Wright on how he's telling the truth about why he lied, and everybody else is lying about why he told the truth. Or something.

Posted by Jim Treacher at May 2, 2004 09:54 AM