Monday, December 19, 2005

Hyman's a Fake

So it’s come to this: Mark Hyman is using spammed emails of dubious authenticity to promote the war in Iraq and attack journalists.

his recent “Point,” Hyman claims to be giving us an update about what’s “really going on in Iraq” by way of an email from a marine who has asked to be anonymous. The marine is quoted as saying that they are out-killing the insurgents 20 to 1 and that they are dismayed by the press coverage that asks whether or not we are winning the war. The marine ends by saying that the troops are largely satisfied with their equipment and leaders, but need more men on the ground to stop supporters of the insurgency from coming across the Syrian and Iranian borders. He adds that the troops "distrust and detest" embedded journalists.

Hyman presents this as if he, Mark Hyman, is the trusted confidant of a marine on the ground, telling his good buddy Mark what’s going down in Iraq.

But the email Hyman quotes from has been circulating around the web for some time, primarily on right wing websites and military/gun enthusiast sites. It was even reprinted in the Washington Times last month. Hyman claims the author is a marine who has asked to remain anonymous, but the version most widely circulating on the web is from the father of a marine who claims to be summarizing what his son has told him about his time in Iraq. (The father is variously referred to as ex-Navy or ex-Marine, and is attributed a range of ranks, from sergeant to colonel. In some cases, the young marine is unnamed. In others, he’s given the name “Jordan.” Other times, he’s given a code name (“Semper Fi”).

From just what I’ve told you, you’re likely suspicious about the veracity of the email. And yes, whenever you see it posted, it’s almost always prefaced by the person posting it as “having been received from a friend who used to know the father’s roommate, etc. etc. etc.”—all the hallmarks of a fraud are here.

Hyman says the full text of the email is available on the Newscentral website, but the copy (which is
typed up to look semi-official—complete with the label “UNCLASSIFIED” at the bottom) leaves off the father’s preamble to his summary of his son’s remarks. Nor is there any indication whatsoever where the email originally came from. We’re apparently supposed to believe that it’s the intrepid Hyman who has brought us this email.

The entire email is interesting in itself because only the small part that Hyman quotes is at all political (in fact, the father’s introduction to the letter as posted on most internet sites specifically say that there’s “no politics, just one Marine’s view from the ground.”). The majority of the lengthy email is an in depth review of various weapons (particularly guns) used by the U.S. military and the insurgents. Most of it is denigrating the newer arms issues to the troops and praising older guns still available (e.g., the Browning .50 cal machine gun, the .45 automatic, etc.).

Why is this important? Because the people who have been the leading debunkers of this email are not progressives or liberals (whom Hyman would say are only questioning it because they “hate the troops”), but gun and military enthusiasts—people whose idea of a fun time is going to an online chat about the relative “stopping power” of an M-16 vs. a AK-47 (and, need I say, not folks known for having strongly progressive political leanings).

I spent more time than I ever thought I would surfing around websites devoted to the fetishization of military firearms, and the consensus is that the writer of the email doesn’t know much about what guns are used in the military.
One website actually titled it’s posting of the letter “What a Hoax?”

Here are a few excerpts from postings on these boards responding to the alleged “Letter from Iraq” – and just put a bit [sic] (no pun intended) next to all grammar errors. They’re posted as-is. I’ve also hyperlinked the first few words to the original message board where the posts appear.

While I
don't doubt
FrontPage's sources, I must note that I've received TWO (2)
variations of this same article via email this past month. One cites a Marine
Corps officer, the other an army NCO.

just stunned
the Washington Times didn't vette the thing better. I mean, I
got it as an email fwd from Major Dad a couple weeks ago and it took me all of 2
seconds of Googling to see it had been around since at least last May, hence I
didn't pass it on and neither did he. But when the Times posts it like they
actaully talked to the father of the "Jordan" in the original email... I mean,
come on. Isn't there any media organization that has a $6.25/hr fact checker any
more? I do it for free, for God's sake.

first cropped up a few years ago. It was rife with factual errors
then. It still has some factual errors in it. The consensus, among the firearms
community, is that this is FAKE, and urban legend. I've ran across this on,, and several other firearms boards. While
some parts of it are true, it seems to be written by someone with an agenda.

Some have said that the content looks like it was originally taken from a gun industry magazine. Others say it sounds much like a slightly updated version of a similar piece written in the Vietnam era. The two constants are: no one can actually attribute the original email to anyone, and those in the know about the minutiae of guns and the military have pointed out huge numbers of factual errors in the piece.

So Hyman, the man who loves to invoke the name Jayson Blair whenever he refers to the New York Times, has been reduced to repeating a widely debunked email and implying that he is the one who has brought it to light, when in fact it's on the web about as much as ads for free Viagra.

The only conclusion one can reach from this is that the only thing more fraudulent than this email are Hyman’s journalistic credentials and ethics.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: One gargantuan false appeal to authority.


At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ted,

Hey, thanks for this expose! If it weren't for the fact that Hyman/Sinclair has bought their way into our living rooms (using the public's airwaves), this would just be a big chuckle.

What a dummy.

Maybe Hyman figures that if the public is gullible enough to hear all sorts of public disinformation, why shouldn't he go off the deep end.

And let's all remember: HymanSinclair allows no meaningful rebuttals to his garbage!

Yep, the First Amendment: the best guarantee that money can buy.


At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, recycled blog-bilge. That is really sad.

This is the tripe that we now get on our local news?

I don't care where you land on the political spectrum... garbage is garbage.

What does this say about our demand for decent news and decent commentary? I know this doesn't apply to those who frequent this blog, but this low-quality nonsense is due, in part, to popular apathy.

Sad stuff.


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