Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire and the Army knew.

Pat Tillman Today’s Washington Post reports the Army was perfectly aware that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire, but covered it up. According to Josh White’s story in the WaPo:

The documents also show that officers made erroneous initial reports that Tillman was killed by enemy fire, destroyed critical evidence and initially concealed the truth from Tillman’s brother, also an Army Ranger, who was near the attack on April 22, 2004, but did not witness it.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, here’s how the story was played out in April of 2004:

MSNBC reported:

Tillman turned down a three-year, $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League to enlist in the Army in May 2002 in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which killed about 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

“My great grandfather was at Pearl Harbor, and a lot of my family has … gone and fought in wars, and I really haven’t done a damn thing as far as laying myself on the line like that,â€? Tillman told NBC News in an interview the day after the attacks.

FOX News headlines in April and May 2004 included Death of a Hero, Pat Tillman’s Patriotic Sacrifice, and An American Hero Has Fallen.

The basic story was this: Tillman walked away from fame and riches in the NFL to fight for his country, and died valiantly while doing so.

I wasn’t blogging yet way back in 2004, but I was taking notes…
Here’s what I wrote about the media coverage of Tillman’s death:

Why, exactly, is his death a worthy one? Why is it that the attachment of some sort of local pseudo-celebrity to a death can make it worthy? What if his name was Washington and he was black. Would the media be quite so focused on an offensive tackle named Washington? What if he were no good at football and was getting paid the league minimum to sit on the bench. Then would his death still be worthy? It is a sickness, a product of the spectacle, this disease of celebrity, this malignant contagion of belief that the appearance of a human within the projected world makes them somehow more important, more real than one that has never been on television, has never given a post-game interview, has never been replayed instantly.

I think what the WaPo is reporting makes it clear that the story structure was more important to the military and to the press than the true story. Noble Millionaire Killed By His Coworkers Accidentally doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as An American Hero Has Fallen, eh?

Agree, Disagree?

4 thoughts on “Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire and the Army knew.”

  1. Why do you focus on Fox News when you reference former Tillman-related headlines? Does that feed into your vision of the vast-right-wing-conspiracy-media-triglomorate or whatever? Every media outlet worth their salt was bound to the `facts’ as we knew them at the time. Someone lied. Fox et al reported said lie. They didn’t invent it. Keep tooting that horn and you’ll set Hillary up for an undeserved loss, ala Kerry. Now tell Michael Moore you’re too tired tonight and call it quits champ.


  2. Cool, my first troll.
    Actually, I link to and quote from MSNBC and FOX. Seems balanced to me. I would happily add that I was bartending the weekend the story broke, and hence was force-fed quite a bit of ESPN coverage, and they all told the same story: Hero Dead. When I discuss the vast right-wing conspiracy, you’ll know it, because I’ll say so. Enjoy your anonymity, and welcome.

    UPDATE: The point of my post, and of this one, is that for the U.S. Army, the story structure was more important than the truth, and the media (all of them – you choose the “liberal” organization of your choice) would not have told such a dramatic story if Pat Tillman were not rich and white. What was it, exactly, that made his death more “heroic” than the death of any other soldier killed that day?


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