Today's NYT blockbuster story from Raymond Hernandez reports that Richard Blumenthal -- Connecticut's Attorney General and likely Deomocratic nominee for Senate -- lied about serving in Vietnam, and has the video tape to prove it.
No mention is made in Hernandez's story of the original source for this information. And this morning, a Connecticut lawyer who writes regularly on politics for the Hartford Courant has stated flatly that the research team for Linda McMahon, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate, provided the tapes and other supporting material to the NYT.
The McMahon campaign has posted the piece by Kevin Rennie on the front page of its campaign website this morning.
Rennie writes this morning on his "Daily Ructions" blog:
The piece, fed to the paper by the Linda McMahon Seante campaign, is accompanied by a chilling 2008 video of Blumenthal blithely making the false claim....
The Blumenthal Bombshell comes at the end of more than 2 months of deep, persistent research by Republican Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign. It gave the explosive Norwalk video recording to The Times. This is what comes of $16 million, a crack opposition research operation and an opponent who, in the words of the president Blumenthal worked for on a draft deferment, who gave them the sword.
The NYT story gives no indication in its 2,100 front-page story where it obtained the tape or original information about Blumenthal's military-experience claims. The story is likely to have significant repercussions in Connecticut politics, where until now Blumenthal was seen as the front-runner to replace Christopher Dodd and keep the seat Democratic.
McMahon, a former World Wrestling Federation promoter with her husband, Vince, is running as a Republican.
Of course, there's a long history of reporters gathering dirt on candidates through interviews with their opponents. If McMahon found the McMahon tape and handed it over to the NYT, it wouldn't have been the first time -- and it doesn't alter the fact that Blumenthal apparently lied about his military service. But in an era of transparency, a story this partisan might have acknowledged the source of the tip.
In response to the posting on the McMahon website, a NYT spokeswoman told Politico: "[A]nyone reading it can tell that it was the product of extensive independent reporting — including our FOIA of his military records."
Does the original source of the information matter? Should the NYT have told readers where it first heard about the tape, given that it might have been from an interested party? Or was it irrelevant to the detailed and comprehensive story the NYT finally published?