Mendacity from Amy Nicholson

In Slate, L.A. Weekly movie critic Amy Nicholson takes aim at deceased sniper and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle:

Take American Sniper, one of the most mendacious movies of 2014. Clint Eastwood was caught in a trap: His subject, murdered Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, lied a lot. In his autobiography, he said he killed two carjackers in Texas, sniped looters during Hurricane Katrina, and punched Jesse Ventura in the face. None of that was true. So Eastwood was stuck. Should he repeat Kyle’s lies as truth? Expose him as a liar?
Ironically her article is titled "Clint Eastwood's American Sniper is one of the most mendacious movies of 2014", because she clearly hasn't read Kyle's autobiography. In his autobiography he does not discuss either of the first two situations she describes, at all. The third situation is described, but Jesse Ventura is not mentioned (Kyle calls the participant "Scruffy" and although some of Scruffy's background is consistent with Ventura's, it's not an obvious link). So Nicholson seems happy with at least one of two situations: 1. making claims about a book she hasn't read, or 2) making knowingly false claims about a book she has read.

It's slightly clearer when you read the New Yorker article which she links because they report third person recounting of the first two stories: people who claim to have heard Kyle talk about them. Kyle may or may not have told these stories, and they may or may not have been accurately recounted by the third parties. The Scruffy story was later confirmed by Kyle in a video interview to pertain to Ventura, and a court subsequently decided that Ventura had been libelled by it. It's a pretty misleading recounting by Nicholson though, whether or not the claim turns out to be substantially true - if you aspire to being an actual journalist, one would expect you to have a clear understanding of 1st vs 2nd vs 3rd party sources and make the distinction clear in your articles. Perhaps Ms. Nicolson has no such aspiration and is happy being a partisan hack.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are subject to retrospective moderation. I will only reject spam, gratuitous abuse, and wilful stupidity.