Right-Wing Media Resurrect False Claim That Administration Ignored Major General's Funeral

››› ››› ELLIE SANDMEYER & CAL COLGAN

Right-wing media outlets criticized the Obama administration over news that three administration officials planned to attend shooting victim Michael Brown's funeral, citing the myth that the White House failed to send representation to the funeral of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, who was killed in Afghanistan -- In reality, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel attended the two star general's service.

Three White House Aides Attend Funeral Of Michael Brown

NPR: Three White House Officials Attend Funeral Of Michael Brown. As National Public Radio (NPR) reported, three White House aides planned to attend the August 25 funeral service for Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was shot during a confrontation with a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri:

President Obama is sending three White House officials to Ferguson, Mo., on Monday for the funeral service for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old black man killed by a white police officer two weeks ago.

[...]

Attending Monday's service will be Broderick Johnson, chairman of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force, an Obama initiative to empower boys and men of color. Joining Johnson will be Marlon Marshall, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Heather Foster, an adviser for the office. [NPR.org, 8/24/14]

Right-Wing Media Accused Obama Of Bias For Officials' Attendance At Brown's Funeral While Ignoring Funeral Of General Killed In Afghanistan

Fox Host Steve Doocy On Brown's Funeral: "How Many Representatives Did The Administration Send To Gen. Harold Greene's Funeral?" On the August 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy accused the Obama administration of bias for supposedly sending representatives to Brown's funeral, but neglecting to send representatives to Major General Greene's funeral, who was killed in early August in Afghanistan. Doocy suggested that the differing treatment evidenced the White House's prejudice:

DOOCY: You're supposed to be impartial, particularly when you're head of the Department of Justice. And yet there's been a rush to judgment, not only by the DOJ, Linda, but by this administration. I think they're sending three representatives to Michael Brown's funeral. And when you look back -- how many representatives did the administration send to General Harold Greene's funeral just a couple weeks ago? You know, it seems like there's something going on here.[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/25/14; 8/25/14]

TownHall: White House Presence At Brown's Funeral Is "Deplorable" Because Of His Absence At Gen. Greene And Margaret Thatcher's Funerals. Right-wing blog TownHall.com called the White House aides' attendance at Michael Brown's funeral "deplorable" "when compared to the White House's presence" at Maj. Gen. Greene's funeral, highlighting the fact that neither President Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden attended Greene's funeral:

The Obama administration announced this weekend that it will be sending not one, but three, officials to attend the funeral of Michael Brown on Monday.

[...]

The decision would be highly questionable as is, but when compared to the White House's presence at, say, the funerals of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene or British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it's deplorable.

The White House has been selective in sending representatives to funerals -- recall that only a low-level delegation was sent to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's service last year. More recently, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden skipped the funeral of Major General Harold Greene, the 2-star general killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 5. [TownHall, 8/24/14]

American Thinker: White House Failed To Send Personnel To Greene's Funeral, But Sent Three Aides To Attend Funeral For Michael Brown. In an August 24 post, the conservative American Thinker hyped Obama "failed to dispatch any White House personnel to the funeral of Major General Harold Greene," yet sent three aides to attend Michael Brown's funeral:

Everything is politics to this president. If he can't get any political mileage out of a presidential action, he ignores it. [American Thinker, 8/24/14]

Reality: Obama Administration Sent Defense Secretary To Major General Greene's Funeral

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Attended Funeral Of Maj. Gen. Greene. Military newspaper Stars and Stripes covered the August 14 funeral of Major General Harold Greene, the highest-ranking military to be killed in the war in Afghanistan, noting that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel attended to pay his respects:

The burial was preceded by a chapel service that was closed to media. Lt. Col. Juanita Chang, an Army public affairs officer, said the 650-seat chapel at Arlington was filled beyond capacity. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel attended and met with the family. [Stars and Stripes, 8/14/14]

Right-Wing Journalist Previously Apologized For Pushing The Myth That No Obama Administration Official Attended Greene's Funeral. On August 18, Washington Examiner editor and Fox News contributor Byron York described how claims that the Obama administration neglected to send a representative to pay respects to Greene began on right-wing blog Legal Insurrection and began to gain traction in the right-wing media. York apologized for personally pushing the story and pointed to coverage of Hagel's attendance to set the record straight.

I was wrong. It turns out Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel did, in fact, attend the Greene funeral, a fact I should have known. Before sending out the tweet, I made a couple of perfunctory checks to see whether Hagel had attended, didn't see him in the news coverage I read and passed on the information without further checking. If I had looked into it just a bit more, I would have seen, for example, a Stars & Stripes article that specifically mentioned Hagel's presence. Once I saw that, I sent out two tweets correcting the mistake. [WashingtonExaminer.com, 8/18/14]

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