Over the past couple of years, Newsmax's Phil Brennan has been aggressively defending soldiers accused in the Haditha massacre. Too aggressively, in fact: Newsmax has already retracted one claim Brennan made.
After PBS' "Frontline" did an episode on Haditha, Brennan insisted in a Feb. 20 article that the program "distorted the real picture by omitting crucial facts." On Feb. 25, Newsmax printed a response to Brennan's piece from "Frontline" story editor Catherine Wright:
Mr. Brennan is wrong in his assertion that FRONTLINE portrayed Haditha as peaceful and free of insurgents prior to the arrival of the Marines, while Newsmax and other media had reported the city to be firmly under insurgent control. In fact, what we reported is that Haditha was a "serene oasis" and "a popular vacation spot" before the war, but that "by the fall of 2005, nearly three years into the war, Haditha was war torn, and Sunni insurgents were in complete control."
We were frankly surprised by the article, given that the reaction from the Marines we?ve heard from, including many in 3/1 has been overwhelmingly positive.
At the end was Brennan's response to Wright, in which he walked back most of his criticisms -- "I was wrong to infer that Frontline misrepresented the extent of insurgent control of Haditha" -- and stating:
The Frontline documentary was on the whole stunningly accurate and went a long way toward destroying the media-fed portrayal of the November 19, 2005 battle in Haditha as a mindless massacre of innocent civilians, and I praise Frontline for what they have done.