A new report attacks Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, claiming he embellished the truth during the 2012 campaign in which he was elected to the House.
The report from the liberal publication Salon granted that Cotton served in the military, but added, “when Cotton launched his first congressional campaign in 2012, he felt compelled to repeatedly falsify that honorable military record.”
The report focused on material from Cotton’s 2012 campaign which it reproduced with the story — material centering around Cotton’s characterization of himself as a former Army Ranger.
A May 2012 ad for Cotton called him a “Battle-Tested Leader” who “Volunteered to be an Army Ranger.”
The Salon piece also referenced a 2011 interview in which Cotton called himself “an infantry officer and an Army Ranger.”
Cotton “told the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record in February 2012: ‘My experience as a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan and my experience in business will put me in very good condition,'” Salon reported.
Salon disputed Cotton’s characterization of his record, saying that he “attended the Ranger School, a two-month-long, small-unit tactical infantry course that literally anyone in the military is eligible attend.”
Salon then ruled that “Soldiers who complete the course earn the right to wear the Ranger tab — a small arch that reads ‘Ranger’ — but in the eyes of the military, that does not make them an actual Army Ranger.”
Cotton spokeswoman Caroline Tabler emailed the publican with a terse comment.
“Senator Cotton graduated from Ranger school and is more of a Ranger than a Salon reporter like you will ever be,” Tabler said.
The balance of the Salon report recounted a fact-checking column from The Washington Post in which the subject for debate was whether attending Ranger School allowed soldiers to use the term “Army Ranger.”
The column reproduced a communication from the Army that said: “A graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger Course is Ranger qualified.”
“The U.S. Army Ranger Course is the Army’s premier leadership school, and falls under Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Eustis, Virginia, and is open to all members of the military, regardless of whether they have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment or completed the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program,” the Army explained.
“Anyone who is serving or has served within the 75th Ranger Regiment is a U.S. Army Ranger,” the Army response also said, according to The Post fact-checker, who ruled that a candidate claiming to be a Ranger on the basis of attending Ranger School earned two Pinocchios on its four-Pinocchio rating scale for untruth.
Based on that, Salon wrote, Cotton “deserves at least as much.”
Cotton’s Senate website bio summarizes his military experience this way: “Tom served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne and in Afghanistan with a Provincial Reconstruction Team.
“Between his two combat tours, Tom served with The Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Tom’s military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and Ranger Tab.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.