Last night, I detailed problems with a May 17 New York Times article's reporting on Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's description of his military service. Since then, new details have come to light indicating that the article's second "revelation" -- regarding Blumenthal's affiliation with the Harvard swim team -- is also flawed.
The Times reported:
On a less serious matter, another flattering but untrue description of Mr. Blumenthal's history has appeared in profiles about him. 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.
Mr. Blumenthal said he did not provide the information to reporters, was unsure how it got into circulation and was "astonished" when he saw it in print.
Putting aside for a moment the article's bizarre suggestion that Blumenthal is somehow responsible for the reporting by Slate and the Courant absent evidence that he personally provided them with inaccurate information, it appears that the paper's claim that Blumenthal was never on the Harvard swim team is false.
The Courant today reports that Peter Alter, who was captain of the swim team the year after Blumenthal graduated, says that Blumenthal was on the team. The paper also reports that a conservative think-tank has posted a photo from the 1964 Harvard College yearbook which "shows Blumenthal participating in a Harvard swim meet his freshman year."
From the article:
But Waterbury native Peter Alter, who was the captain of the Harvard swim team in 1968, the year after Blumenthal graduated, told the Courant this morning that Blumenthal was on the team.
He was a freestyler and "was actually a pretty good one,'' said Alter, now a lawyer in Glastonbury who still on occasion talks to Blumenthal.
The Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think-tank based in Hartford, unearthed a trove of photographs from Harvard that show Blumenthal was at least associated with the team.
A photo from the 1964 Harvard College yearbook, posted on the Yankee Institute's Facebook page, shows Blumenthal participating in a Harvard swim meet his freshman year. "However, if Blumenthal was on the Harvard swim team, he is not included in the team's group yearbook photo that year,'' Yankee's executive director Fergus Cullen noted in an email.
The article also quotes Alter stating that Blumenthal had told him years ago that he had "tried to figure out where" the media claim that he had been the Harvard team's captain "had started and that he had never claimed to have been the captain." The Courant further reports that they had incorrectly identified Blumenthal as "a former captain of the Harvard swimming team" in 1978 and 1980 articles, and that a 1969 Life magazine profile had called him a "100-yard freestyler in 51.0."