By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Accurate, but … ?

It’s hard to know what to make of this. Army Sgt. Brian Fountaine, who lost his legs in Iraq, went on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” last night and claimed the Globe had falsely portrayed him as having turned against the war.

The Herald, naturally, was all over it — but seemed to conclude that the Globe story, by Brian MacQuarrie, was accurate.

Fountaine has been big in the Herald of late because of his publicly expressed desire to become a firefighter, despite his serious injuries. Mayor Tom Menino has said the city will try to accommodate him.

Just to complicate matters, the Weekly Dig’s blog recently whacked the Herald for portraying Fountaine as a supporter of the war while failing to acknowledge MacQuarrie’s story.

A transcript of Fountaine’s appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” (available only via LexisNexis) shows that though Fountaine thinks he had been treated unfairly by the Globe, veteran media-watcher Marvin Kalb — who’s on Fox’s payroll — believes the Globe story was accurate. Here’s an excerpt from Kalb:

I had the pleasure of talking with Sgt. Fountaine and his mother before we went on air. And my understanding, from what they told me, was they objected to the photograph that was used and to the headline but he told me that all of the quotes are accurate. It is simply the way in which the story is presented.

Every story is the result of a reporter’s instinct. The reporter who wrote this story did it his way. I would have done it my way.

So what do we make of this? Fountaine comes across as a brave young man who paid a terrible price for his military service, and who is still sorting it all out. He was probably shocked to see that the Globe played his story on page one, and then began to have second thoughts.

Credit the Herald and reporter Jessica Heslam for not turning this into another exercise in knee-jerk Globe-bashing.

O’Reilly, of course, deserves no credit. Here’s what he’s got promoting the second hour of his radio show yesterday: “The Boston Globe is at it again, turning a pro-war disabled veteran into a critic of the Iraq war. How did it happen? And more importantly, why did it happen?” Please.

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Independent’s day


Smart guy, dumb move


  1. Anonymous

    Fox just loves parading maimed – physical or otherwise.

  2. another face at zanzibar

    Hey, Dan, how’s that trade working out?

  3. Bill Baar

    Fountaine comes across as a brave young man who paid a terrible price for his military service, and who is still sorting it all out. He was probably shocked to see that the Globe played his story on page one, and then began to have second thoughts.Or maybe the soldiers too complex for the writer, who never sorted them out, or gave them thought?Interesting you put the burden on the source and not the filter.My experience is things are lost with the translation; sometimes with deliberation.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Another Face: Arroyo gave up 4 earned runs in 7 innings last night — just what you want out of a #4 or #5 starter, and the kind of performance the Red Sox could use right now. Wily Mo’s coming around — he’d have won a couple of games by now if Sox pitchers could hold onto a lead.

  5. Bill Forry

    Dan,I was out of town for the last week and just came across this discussion. For the record, it was the Dorchester Reporter that began this story cycle with a front page story that I wrote in our July 27 edition. It can be viewed at angle on the story was straight-forward about the service of this young man and his injuries. But Sgt. Fountaine was quite clear with us about his feelings on the war at present- very much in line with what Brian MacQuarrie reported a week later in his Globe piece.Included in the Dorchester Reporter article, although deep in the piece is the following:Someone might have cautioned the president not to mention the war in Iraq. Fountaine says that he, like many other injured soldiers, are angry about their Iraq experience and aren’t afraid to tell the president or anyone else about it.”My guys ask me all the time: ‘Are we just riding around waiting to get blown up?’ And I’d always say, ‘No, shut up, that’s not our mission.’ But, you’ve got to sit back and ask yourself, what is our mission?”In Fountaine’s opinion, fighting a surrogate war on behalf of the Iraqi people will never pay off.”They’ve been at war with themselves and others for a thousand years,” he told the Reporter. “There’s blood hatred between the Shia and Sunnis. They take it very seriously. It’s going to take a lot of work and I don’t know if it will work.”I think we need to get the guys out of there. There’s more and more guys getting killed, and what’s the purpose?”- Bill ForryManaging EditorDorchester Reporter

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