Journalistic Accuracy

02.12.13

Yes, Bin Laden's Killer Will Get Healthcare Benefits

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images ()

I linked yesterday to Esquire magazine's report on the lack of benefits available to the Navy SEAL who shot bin Laden. My link was prefaced by a caveat that the story was a disgrace: "If accurate."

Stars and Stripes documents that the story was not accurate. Not only that, but that the inaccuracy was not an innocent error by writer Phil Bronstein, but a conscious decision not to mention relevant facts.

Like every combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the former SEAL, who is identified in the story only as “the Shooter”, is automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But the story doesn’t mention that.

The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.

“No one ever told him that this is available,” Bronstein said.

He said there wasn’t space in the article to explain that the former SEAL’s lack of healthcare was driven by an ignorance of the benefits to which he is entitled.