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Monday, January 29, 2007


Bill Sloat:  Ace News Hawk, or Modicum of Credibility?

Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati

Photo courtesy of here.

In a Sunday post at his blog, The Daily Bellwether (and if you don’t know, a “bellwether” is a ram with no testicles), Bill Sloat—recently let go from his position at the Cleveland Plain Dealer—writes about a legless veteran getting spit at during the recent anti-war march in Washington D.C. this past Saturday.  He also shares his own “vivid” memory about allegedly being spat upon while wearing a uniform back in 1970.  There is only one problem with both of these stories:  they seem to be entirely fabricated.

Sloat blasts anti-war protesters for spitting at a legless veteran named Josh Sparling:

An Iraq War veteran who lost his right leg below the knee at Ramadi was heckling the large throngs of anti-war protesters marching Saturday in Washington. Apparently, things got boisterous and somebody spit towards the soldier, Joshua Sparling, who spit right back.

(...)

Lest anybody think the spitting incident Saturday is Internet fiction, there is this account from Sunday’s New York Times (page 20 National Edition), whose reporter Ian Urbina seems to have been a witness:

“There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling, who was not scheduled to speak, addressed the counterprotesters to voice his support for the administration’s policies in Iraq.

Later, an antiwar protester passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.

Firstly, let’s just acknowledge the fact that the myth of the spat-upon veteran is simply a myth.  Check out this piece from CommonDreams.org:

STORIES ABOUT spat-upon Vietnam veterans are like mercury: Smash one and six more appear. It’s hard to say where they come from. For a book I wrote in 1998 I looked back to the time when the spit was supposedly flying, the late 1960s and early 1970s. I found nothing. No news reports or even claims that someone was being spat on.

What I did find is that around 1980, scores of Vietnam-generation men were saying they were greeted by spitters when they came home from Vietnam. There is an element of urban legend in the stories in that their point of origin in time and place is obscure, and, yet, they have very similar details. The story told by the man who spat on Jane Fonda at a book signing in Kansas City recently is typical. Michael Smith said he came back through Los Angeles airport where ‘‘people were lined up to spit on us.”

Like many stories of the spat-upon veteran genre, Smith’s lacks credulity. GIs landed at military airbases, not civilian airports, and protesters could not have gotten onto the bases and anywhere near deplaning troops. There may have been exceptions, of course, but in those cases how would protesters have known in advance that a plane was being diverted to a civilian site? And even then, returnees would have been immediately bused to nearby military installations and processed for reassignment or discharge.

The exaggerations in Smith’s story are characteristic of those told by others. ‘‘Most Vietnam veterans were spat on when we came back,” he said. That’s not true. A 1971 Harris poll conducted for the Veterans Administration found over 90 percent of Vietnam veterans reporting a friendly homecoming. Far from spitting on veterans, the antiwar movement welcomed them into its ranks and thousands of veterans joined the opposition to the war.

So now we know that stories of spat upon veterans can be questionable.  What, then, can we say about Josh Sparling—and the allegations that an anti-war protester spat in his general direction?

Check out this post at Digby’s blog, documenting the frequency with which Josh Sparling is apprently victimized.  It happens so many times, some even consider Sparling a professional victim.  And in this post, Digby shows that Sparling was even invited to a State of the Union Address.  So Sparling is no ordinary spat upon veteran— he has friends in very high places!

Who knows how many places Sparling made appearances during the protest, but The Beacon accidentally caught some incidental footage of him goading protesters.  We find it noteworthy that a fenced-off chasm of about twenty feet separated the protesters from the counter-protesters.  Is this the location of the alleged spitting?  If so, how could someone launch a phlegm-wad that far?

 

Whatever modicum of credibility the Sparling story has, what can we therefore make of Bill Sloat’s own claims of being a victimized veteran?

In Sloat’s Bellwether item, Sloat leaves the following note:

[Ed Note: I was spit at in New Orleans in 1970 while in Army uniform on leave from Fort Polk, La. It landed near my shoulder, and was horrifying to a kid who had answered his draft notice. I was in the military because I had drawn No. 56 in the December 1969 draft lottery, the only lottery I ever won.]

A commenter asks him to provide more details of his own experience.  Sloat writes the following:

This is what I remember: We came down by Greyhound or Trailways and were in khaki short sleeves because of the ticket discount that I think we got for being in uniform, or maybe we had to be in uniorm when we left the post. I know we wanted to slip into civvvies, but there was a reason why we couldn’t immediately do so. The spitting was near the bus station, the exact location of which I don’t remember. We stayed at the Howard Johnson’s, which I recall was near the La. Supreme Court. We were not on Bourbon Street, but did go to see to see a movie that day, a porno flick called the Devil Is Miss JOnes, where the woman slit her wrists in a bath tub at the end, which freaked us out. A girl spit at me at me as we walked to the HoJos. I do remember it vividly to this day. Maybe it was NOT because were GIs? But you will never convince me. And, anon, I think you are profoundly ignorant of that era. Sorry. If you think I am full of it, then think what you want . . .

This anecdote begs several questions.  Firstly, would a bunch of military guys on leave in New Orleans, going to see a porno, be in a sober state of mind?  Is it likely that there was some partying?

And how realistic is this spitting woman?  Can we really imagine a lone woman spitting at three male soldiers?  Further, what kind of interaction do we think three soldiers would have with a woman after allegedly leaving a porno?

Nevertheless, Sloat claims his memories from 1970 are vivid.  He remembers going to see a porno named “the Devil is Miss Jones” (sic).  He remembers this vividly in 1970.

There is just one problem.  The porno in question wasn’t even made until 1973.

It seems, therefore, that Bill Sloat’s “vivid” memories may be a bit more cloudy than he would have us believe. 

People from all over the world—people of all races and ages—came to protest the current war.  But a so-called seasoned journalist like Bill Sloat saw fit to go for shock-and-awe, spreading the propaganda of a professional victim like Josh Sparling. 

In times like these we need hard hitting journalism—journalism that has some balls.  You won’t find any of those at The Daily Bellwether.


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  1. Patriot says:

    It landed near my shoulder,

    WTF does that mean?  Did it land on his arm?  On his neck?  Then why not say that?  NEAR his shoulder?

    If he jerks off and cums in his belly button, would he say it landed near his nipple?

  2. Dave says:

    “It landed near my shoulder,”

    “WTF does that mean?  Did it land on his arm?  On his neck?  Then why not say that?  NEAR his shoulder?

    If he jerks off and cums in his belly button, would he say it landed near his nipple?”

    Hah!!!!

    Dean, I nominate this as funniest comment of the week!

  3. Only you could find a way to be sleazy about such says:

    This anecdote begs several questions.  Firstly, would a bunch of military guys on leave in New Orleans, going to see a porno, be in a sober state of mind?  Is it likely that there was some partying?

    And what were they wearing? How short were the sleeves?

    Blame the victim.

  4. anon says:

    Blame the victim.

    Sounds like Sloat’s simply a victim of having an overactive imagination.

  5. anon says:

    Bill Sloat is Jim “The Whistleblower” Schifrin’s boy.

    ‘Nuff said.

  6. anon says:

    Bill Sloat: I will apologize to Corporal Sparling for what happened. And I salute his service and his sacrifice.

    Look at this guy Sloat’s writing. Even if Sparling was on the level (which he isn’t), this is pandering of the greasiest, self-aggrandizing type primarily intended to enhance Sloat’s image as a “Good American.” Too bad he didn’t do any fact-checking like a good reporter.

  7. anon says:

    From the Common Dreams article:

    Many tellers of the spitting tales identify the culprits as girls, a curious quality to the stories that gives away their gendered subtext.

    Another interesting aspect that a woman who would spit on a stranger is perceived as even worse than a man, an outcast and a “bad girl”; after all, no “nice woman” would ever do such a thing. Create that caricature and it gives permission for all sorts of personal attacks, in this case granted by the license of “supporting the troops.”

    Case in point. Is there another Cincinnati “reporter” who denigrates women more than the feculent Jim Schifrin, aka “The Whistleblower”? And what did Schifrin lead with today? The dubious spitting tales being spun by Schifrin’s close friend, Bill Sloat.

  8. KPerry says:

    Victim or story teller? If he has such “vivd” memory, why are there so many problems with his story? Why’d he get the porno he saw wrong? Why is it so vague where the spit wad landed?

    There must’ve been some verbal echange right? Did he flip her the bird, call her a bitch, or what? Didn’t his friends say anything? They were full of testosterone one would assume.

    Did one of them perhaps make some rude comment towards the woman before she spat? It just some like some of the “vivid” details are wrong and then things that should’ve been easy to recall are vague. Sorry, it just sounds like pure grade A BS to me.

  9. Only you could find a way to be sleazy about such says:

    There mustíve been some verbal echange right? Did he flip her the bird, call her a bitch, or what? Didnít his friends say anything? They were full of testosterone one would assume.

    Again blaming the victim.

  10. Luke says:

    Sloat seems like a douchebag.  Because he served his country does not justify his douchebaguery, and the same applies to Sparling.

    Shame on the NYT for buying into the arguably one of the most destructive memes of the past 40 years (namely, that you shouldn’t criticise a war as its fought) and framing this reportage as such.

    Then again, the NYT started the damn war, I suppose they have a vested interest in ANYTHING good coming out of it.  Instead, I think they’ll just print lies about Iran.

  11. anon says:

    I see that Sloat has published an inane item today that includes photos of his basic training camp in Louisiana- and nothing to address the questions raised about his spitting story. Nobody is questioning whether or not Sloat did his basic training there. The photos are irrelevant.

    When a reporter gets it wrong, he should cop to it. He should at least say, “Hey, I had no idea this Sparling guy was the Johnny-on-the-spot of vet victimization” That’s not even getting to Sloat’s dubious story about being spit on himself.
    When a reporter gets accused of flat out making stuff up, he better defend his credibility, fast. It’s all he has. Instead, Sloat hides. Draw your own conclusions.

  12. anon says:

    Again blaming the victim.

    Again ignoring the likelihood that Sloat made up the whole thing.

    Stick with this, Beacon. You’ve nailed another one.

  13. Patriot says:

    The definitive study on that myth about vets getting spat upon is called THE SPITTING IMAGE and is by a sociologist.  Nobody, of course, can prove that something NEVER took place, but the idea that anti-war people were spitting
    on veterans was promoted by the U.S. Army debriefings before discharging veterans.  The purpose was to keep veterans away from the anti-war demonstrations.

  14. cincysue says:

    Most of it has already been said but trying to envision the offending wad that landed “near his shoulder,” may be worth revisiting. Was he standing against a wall. The soldiers I’ve known are pretty tightly strung, pissed off, and often looking for a fight. The idea that he or they meekly stood by while being assaulted is ludicrous.

    Look, this guy sounds like the guys that claim to be “nam’ vets who constantly wear camouflage and show up or ride their bikes in any pro-war or patriotic rally they can find. They usually turn out to be Vietnam-era veterans, never having seen a rice paddy or a Vietnamese. Some were not even in the military and are only veterans of the Army Navy Surplus store 50% off sale. And they’re the group that perpetuate the lies about abuse by protesters and show the most outrage. Five minutes with an in-country combat vet and they’re busted. They’re a strange bunch of wannabes. He sounds like one of them.

  15. anon says:

    I see that Sloat has published an inane item today that includes photos of his basic training camp in Louisiana

    Take another look at this 2nd post by Bill Sloat. The links to the photos have nothing to do with him - they’re just links he found about Ft. Polk.

    Does this prove anything? No. That’s my point. Sloat has opened the door wide, making three claims, that he served, that he was at Ft. Polk, and that he was spit on. Legitimate questions have been raised about the latter claim and Bill Sloat has not adequately addressed those questions.

    I urge the Dean and others to keep an open mind about the veracity of his other claims as well.

  16. Busted! says:

    Wow. The Dean is “anon”. Thatís sad.

    Don’t try to defend yourself by arguing different IP addresses- you can change your IP like the clothes you wear. Your writing styles are practically identical.

    Don’t try to say, “why would I post this if I was really anon”...your logic is not understandable.


    Having another blogger always agreeing with you, knowing everything about the subject and being on par all the time- it makes no sense.

    Sometimes your alter-ego may disagree with your comments or publications..of course that is part of the game.

    Don’t boast your web hits and say that it is only logical that someone out there- by sheer probability- would agree with you and understand every convoluted article you publish.

    In sum: your writing styles are virtually the same, you and anon agree on almost everything and he knows exactly what your talking about nearly all of the time, and you both have the same attitude towards government, politics, and economy.

    Just tell your readers the truth.

    Isn’t that what youíre promoting?

  17. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Busted!

    What a strange post!  You must be the same person who posts every bad thing about me, ever.

    Don’t say the IP addresses are different.  You can change those.

    And don’t say the writing styles are different—you can change those, too!

    I’d love to read your rhetorical breakdown of the diction and grammar to “prove” that the writers are the same!

  18. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Jason!

    What is your problem?

    We are talking about a incident that was 35 years ago. Have you that many years on this earth, if so, how did your mother’s vagine smell or where you an asshole baby?

    I saw the Devil is/and Miss Jones in New Jersey and I haven’t any idea of the year. And you questioning whether GIs on leave (actually it was probably a week-end pass) would go to a porno movie only shows how naive you are. They would even do your mother even if she was ninety.

    And as to the spitting, maybe you have only attended demonstrations in Cincinnati but Sloat’s recall sound real enough after 35 years.

    And because you have a picture of the amputee at one instance, isn’t it possible that something could of occured before orafter the picture was taken.

    Jason, you pick the strangest things to go off on.

    Dieter Schmied

  19. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    You can see some off-topic comments here:

    http://www.cincinnatibeacon.com/index.php/forums/viewforum/12/

  20. anon says:

    Dieter Schmied, now that this follow-up Beacon article makes you (and others) look foolish, before typing similar uninformed comments in the future, you may wish to think back on this moment.

    The ability to learn from our mistakes separates some of us from the lower life forms.

  21. Peace Monger says:

    I think the Dean is right and Sloat is full of shit. This guy claims “vivid” memories and his story doesn’t add up at all. I posted some follow up questions about details like did the girl run away? Did you or your friends say anything to her? He wouldn’t post my questions and has refused to address.

    Google this guy Sparling and you’ll see he has the worst luck, constantly being abused by people against the war. His stories keep getting more outlandish and after telling it on Fox he asked his girlfriend to marry him. The guy is nuts.

    If you take a little time and read about this guy you’ll see what I mean. Go to their Freepers website where they make wild claims of guys with poles waiting to try and jump them. look at them and think for yourself. It’s just another case of people trying to discredit the peace movement.

  22. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Dean!

    You are correct to say that a Wether is a castrated goat but you didn’t tell the whole story.

    The Wether is castrated for the good of the herd. The Wether carries the Bell to tell the Goatherder where the herd is and to warn the Goatherder in the event of attact by a preditor. Now in my opinion it is indeed noble to give up your sexlife to protect one’s neighbor.

    Would you allow yourself to be castrated to protect your neighbor or put another way, would be castrated in order to be able to warn your fellowman of the predators and evils that lurks in the shadows of government? You could say that it takes balls to be a Bellwether literally. It doesn’t take balls to attack someone from a keyboard hidden in the cyberspace.

    The Sour Kraut

  23. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    This is an example of why there should be no “anons” allowed to comment:

    anon says:
    02 Feb 2007 at 10:38 am | # Dieter Schmied, now that this follow-up Beacon article makes you (and others) look foolish, before typing similar uninformed comments in the future, you may wish to think back on this moment.

    The ability to learn from our mistakes separates some of us from the lower life forms.

    He has to be responding to my comment (#19) above. I challenge him to quote any statement that can be classified as “uninformed”. It can be argued that GIs would not do Jason’s mother if she were ninety, but having been one and lived among many GIs, that I should be considered to be informed. And at the risk of being accused of playing The Dozens, Jason’s mother might be worse than I can imagine.

    Then he (anon) speaks of the distinction between some of us and the lower life forms. I am wondering from which of the two classes that he claims himself to have received information. I am assuming that he is male because I assume most women are smarter than what anon seems to be, but on that point I am generalizing. I am also wondering if Jason is aka anon. What possible reason could Jason allow that anon drivel to fester on his blog?

    I want to thank you all for alerting me to Sloat’s blog. I think he is doing a good job. So far he hasn’t been inundated with anons.

    Tschuss!

  24. anon says:

    I want to thank you all for alerting me to Sloat’s blog. I think he is doing a good job. So far he hasn’t been inundated with anons.

    That’s because Bill Sloat screens comments, anon and otherwise, that are critical of his facts and opinions. The Dean is more sensible. Allowing the dieterschmieds out there the oppt’y to participate freely in the Beacon’s comment sections not only contributes to free speech, it enhances our tolerance and patience for the less capable among us.

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