As you’ve seen in our feature section over the course of the day we’ve been chronicling in some detail how the administration’s narrative of events in the bin Laden raid story have changed over the course of the last 36 hours. The wife human shield story has now been dropped. And contrary to the first accounts, bin Laden himself seems to have been unarmed. But I think we’ve gotten into comical exaggeration territory when the Atlantic refers to this as somehow comparable to the collapse of the Jessica Lynch story back in 2003.
What does seem clear is that the White House went public with details only hours after the attack had happened. The Seals were no doubt pumped up by the success of the mission. And it’s clear that the president’s top staff were very pumped up too. They went forward with details that hadn’t been reconciled, in some cases proved untrue and in a couple key cases really should have been seen as a bit too good to be true. In retrospect, as I’m sure the White House is finding, it would have been better to wait to get all the details confirmed and ironed out before doing these briefings — something that was likely hard to do considering the probably literally unprecedented press and public demand for details.
Still, c’mon. There’s a rather clear difference between going forward with unconfirmed or even pumped up accounts of events of an indisputably dangerous and successful mission and hyping up what was essentially a non-event into propaganda morality tale.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.