The Columbian’s “Absence of Malice”

by lewwaters

I always find it disheartening to see mispresentations on the Columbian’s website or in their print edition. Whether deliberate or accidental, misrepresentations serve no one and leave people with false impressions of news or something that happened.

As readers know, Clark County Politics blog and I both raised the question about a claim of “numerous combat medals” received by current Clark County Board of Commissioners candidate, Joe Tanner, seeing that he served aboard a ship cruising in the South China Sea off of the coast of Vietnam during the war in support of the war.

Such a claim is vague and leads people to believe such medals to be earned during actual combat by a soldier or sailor if a member of the Navy as was Tanner.

Most that never served in the Military do not see a distinction nor do they see a need to question Military service, unless of course your name is George W. Bush or you’re a Republican.

Seeing that Mr. Tanner was an Electronics Technician most likely serving at sea, the question arose about how “numerous combat medals” could be received. Given that, on April 25, 2012 I sent an email to the Tanner campaign requesting clarification.

On April 29, 2012, a little after 9 pm I received from Tanner;

Lew, sorry for the delay. I have a new grand daughter (my first) and that took priority. By noon tomorrow I will send to you my DD-214 and a statement about my military service. I am taking you at your word that you will publish my DD-214 and statement verbatim on your website. All the Democrats and Republicans I know believe you to be a straight shooter, so I am going to assume that – until and unless you give me a reason to think otherwise. At the same time I will post the DD-214 on my website and also send it to the Columbian and Reflector.

I think we will both be a big part of the political landscape in Clark County for many years, so hopefully we will have a mutually respectful and productive working relationship. By the way, I personally gave my DD-214 to David Madore 2 months ago, given our mutual experience in the Navy. I assumed you already had a copy, but in any event tomorrow you will have it (absent only my social security number).

True to his word, he emailed me a copy of his DD 214 and a statement on his service, that I posted just prior to meeting him for lunch today, where we had a pleasant discussion and he accepted my advice to change the misleading wording of “numerous combat medals” to “several meritorious medals and awards,” accurately describing his Honorable Service aboard the USS Providence.

I also agreed with him that it was a good idea to include the Columbian in the release, if for no other reason that to give him the assurance that I would indeed post his response verbatim as well as they are the “newspaper of record.”

Given the Columbian’s history of dislike of current Commissioner Tom Mielke, who Joe Tanner is challenging, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to come home from meeting Tanner and seeing the Columbian’s All Politics is Local blog distorting the concern both Kelly and I had.

Written by Stephanie Rice and under the heading Tanner releases military service record we see written, “Tanner released the record because two conservative bloggers, Lew Waters and Kelly Hinton, had questioned how Tanner earned combat medals.”

We also read, “Tanner said today that having Waters and Hinton question his military record was ‘disheartening’ and politically driven,” which was not expressed to me during our lunch together.

What is “disheartening” is to drop down in comments and read from Columbian editor Lou Brancaccio,

“It was nice to have Joe come in today to speak with Stephanie about all of this. Anyone who has been around politics for very long likely understands the drill. It is what it is I guess.”

It’s disheartening as neither Stephanie Rice nor Brancaccio made any effort to contact either me or Kelly about this, but automatically assigned political motives to it when it was a Veteran to Veteran matter.

Nobody impugned Tanner’s service nor questioned his being a Vietnam Veteran. The question was solely over the claim of “combat medals,” now corrected on Joe Tanners campaign page.

Also disheartening was to see the claim made by well known citizen Jim Mains of,

“It’s pathetic that people start rumors and misinformation about our good men and women who serve our country. We are the United States not the Divided States. Let’s start acting like it! Thank you Joe for your service.”

I have not yet found Jim’s defense of claims made for several years about the service of former president George W. Bush in the Texas Air National Guard by many from his party still.

But apparently he formed the desired outcome of Stephanie Rice’s post, that we were somehow denigrating Tanners service to benefit Mielke when in fact, it is they who wish to marginalize Mielke and ignore Mielke’s own Vietnam Service with the 82nd Airborne Division, receiving the Bronze Star with ‘V’ device, a true “combat medal.”

In the past, our blogs have requested similar clarifications from both self proclaimed “tea party icon,” Marine Corporal David W. Hedrick and Presidential Candidate Ron Paul, neither of whom has bothered to respond, Hedrick’s redacted records obtained through a “Stolen Valor” watchdog group.

The request was not made over partisan issues, but due to seeing over recent years several political candidates who have embellished or fabricated Military Service claims when seeking office.

It was just an effort to seek clarification on a questionable claim and has been rectified.

But leave it to the Columbian, who did not raise any question when Hedrick’s records were being sought nor has any asked Ron Paul for clarification on supporters claims of his service, to create a mountain out of a molehill and never contact those who they assign motives to.

Tanner did not respond to Kelly’s request and has issued an apology to him for missing his email on this blog, which the Columbian does not mention.

That too should be of no surprise.

Veteran to Veteran, I thank Joe Tanner for his clarification as well as for the lunch meeting he requested.

To both he and fellow Vietnam Veteran Tom Mielke, I give a hearty Welcome Home, brothers.

13 Comments to “The Columbian’s “Absence of Malice””

  1. It’s rather telling that no one at the Columbian was bothered by asking Ron Paul for his Military Service to be clarified nor when we asked the same of Marine Corporal David W. Hedrick


  2. Will we all fall asleep before The Columbian “responds”? Maybe Rice and Brancaccio already left the building “inadvertently”…


  3. Neither will make a comment here, Jack.

    Once I went in to the Columbian and made my corrective comments, no more were made questioning our motives.

    I am sure they hoped to use this against Mielke and it goes nowhere, as usual.

    That Stephanie amended her post with links to operation the ship was involved in are meaningless as well, since Joe’s DD 214 shows no one actual “combat” medal and his updating his website to correct that claim.

    He has every right to be proud of his service and his medals, but they aren’t “combat” medals.

    Mielke’s Bronze Star with ‘V’ device is.


  4. For the record Lew, members who served onboard Navy ships that participated in the Vietnam war, especially the aircraft carriers that manned Yankee Station launching Alpha Strikes against the North and all of the support vessels in thier attached Task Forces, were ALL eligible for combat decorations for time served in a war zone. Ask Bill Turlay about that sometime. He was one of the guys flying those planes.

    Contrary to popular belief Lew, you did not have to have “18 months boots on the ground in Vietnam” to be considered a combat veteran and wear the appropriate decorations for it. Guys on the flight decks constantly risked their lives around the clock to launch aircraft in support of ground troops ashore, and guys on the tincans and re-supply ships that followed them around to provide cover did so as well. Ask a Navy A-4 pilot who almost got his ass shot off if he feels like a Combat Vet.

    And for the record, if anyone wants to see them, I have a whole collection of DD-214’s, one from every time I re-enlisted during a 20 year Navy career.

    You’re welcome, Lew.


  5. Again, Bob, the question was not about his actual service or eligibility to receive combat decorations, but the claim that he did, when as we now see, he did not.

    And as stated, he corrected the claim on his page.


  6. Lou (Brancaccio),

    This month is my subscription renewal month for The Columbian. I have been going back and forth as to whether or not I want to continue supporting the newspaper. On one hand, I very much want to support our only local newspaper. As I’ve said before, I think an independent local newspaper is important to the health of a community. On the other hand, the political underhandedness that The Columbian continues to display in pursuit of the publisher’s goals makes me wonder whether I should be supporting the newspaper at all.

    The latest dirty trick was to assign political motive to Lew Waters’ request for clarification from Joe Tanner regarding his alleged combat service medals. Did you assign political motive when he questioned David Hedrick’s medal claims? Joe was good enough, on Lew’s blog, to explain that perhaps he should have used (and in fact did make the change on his website – I checked), the word “meritorious” rather than “combat”. I have no idea why Joe later characterized Lew’s question as being “politically motivated”.

    Also, your attempt to smear Lew with the insinuation of being a sleazy political operative (“Anyone who has been around politics for very long likely understands the drill.”) is pretty disgusting. I think you owe Lew an apology.

    Thank you
    Craig Sayre


  7. Craig, Lew has demonstrated his penchant for being a sleazy political operative by inserting links to sites that weren’t related to the issues being address, yet stated that they were in in comments. That behaviour, Craig, is definitely that of a sleazy political operative. If you don’t think that Kelly’s and Lew’s motives were political, then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Kelly has also posted alleged legal issues about Joe Tanner as well that haven’t been supported. He doesn’t even know if they are related to him or not, but he posted them anyway. For political bloggers to claim that their posts are not politically motivated is just plain nonsense. Period.


  8. Greg, you show nothing but your own “sleaze” by not seeing there is a difference between taking a stance as a Veteran and as a political blogger.

    You fail to see that at times non-political posts are put up. But to acknowledge that would you would have to admit to your own sleazy attempts are denigrating and demeaning someone you despise, both here and on the Columbian.

    Say what you will about Kelly’s posts, but you did not see them here, did you? Or, does it escape your little mind that Kelly and I are not the same person nor are our blogs the same?

    And you also ignore that Tanner agreed his wording was improper and changed it. That alone, more than anything, shows our concern was right. But you cannot acknowledge that!

    And, if it is “sleaze” that concerns you, you need look no further than your own mirror.

    Get over yourself.


  9. Greg,
    You’re wrong on this one. As a veteran Lew has every right to question those who make claims about combat decorations – it has nothing to do with politics. The fact that he’s questioned others (including Republicans) about their claims should make that clear to anyone. For commenters to claim that political bloggers are unable to write non-political posts on their blog is just plain nonsense. Period.

    However, I am somewhat gratified that you seem to agree with my assessment of Lou Brancaccio’s post. Whether you agree or not, he wrote back to me denying what is evident to anyone (with the typical LB sarcasm thown in for good measure). He wrote “You read way too much into that Craig. Thanks much for the observation.”


  10. Craig, The Columbian is hardly an “independent newspaper” because it chimes right in with the rest of the Elitist, Leftist Media. With as little regard as The Columbian has for this community, “local” means absolutely nothing either. Remember, the Mafia was “local”, too.


  11. Greg – if you feel like you need to go all over town and use your computer as a smear machine, why do you not set up your own blog and counter point things that are said? Or do you just like to play games back and forth, frothing every one up for no reason?…..


  12. A blog by Greg would be about as “successful” as Air America.


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