Andy McCarthy and National Review Fail to Correct Factual Error


That the error was made in the first place shows a careless inattention to fact-checking. But even after Glenn Greenwald brought it to their attention — in two separate e-mails — no correction was made. The error is in McCarthy’s post about the six Algerian detainees who were granted a habeus corpus hearing in federal court, which resulted in the judge, Richard J. Leon, ordering that five of the detainees be released. McCarthy writes that Judge Leon was appointed by Bush 41. He was, in fact, appointed by Bush 43.

As Glenn points out, this error has substantive implications above and beyond being factually incorrect:

Before Leon was appointed by Bush to the bench, he was a long-time right-wing operative.  That such an emphatic repudiation of Bush’s arguments justifying these detentions came from this judge — appointed at the height of Bush 43’s “War on Terror” popularity and power in 2002 — underscored how unjustified the detentions were and how flimsy was the evidence on which they were based.

But readers of National Review and Andy McCarthy wouldn’t know any of this.  That’s because, when McCarthy wrote about this ruling on Thursday and vehemently criticized it, he stated, falsely, that Judge Leon was appointed by Bush’s father, not by Bush himself:

At issue are six Algerians, one of whom is identified as a member of al Qaeda. His detention was upheld, but Judge Richard Leon — a Bush 41 appointee reputed to be generally sympathetic to the government — has ordered the remaining five released.

In the right-wing choruses that rely on National Review for analysis, that is an important distinction, since Bush 41 is regarded as a soft and heretical moderate, while Bush 43 — particularly when it comes to judicial appointments and “War on Terror” issues — is viewed as stalwart and pure.  The fact that it was a Bush 43 judge — a real right-wing ideologue — who rejected Bush 43’s justifications for holding these men at Guantanamo negates many of the standard arguments used to demonize this decision, including the ones McCarthy went on to make.

The original error might have been unintentional, but now that it’s been brought to the magazine’s attention, why is it still there?

Read more here.


Andy McCarthy has corrected the error in his original piece, and put up a separate post acknowledging the mistake. He thanks his “alert Corner readers” for noticing the error, but does not mention Glenn. At least he fixed it.

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