In case you missed this nothingburger of a story last week, on Friday, Salon launched an attack on Senator Tom Cotton’s military record, saying that he claimed to be a U.S. Army Ranger, but “that’s not true.” Cotton, a decorated combat veteran who earned the Bronze Star, graduated Army Ranger school and was awarded the Ranger tab, qualifying him to serve in the elite unit. Salon’s claim is based on the fact that Cotton served with the 101st Airborne Division and not the legendary 75th Ranger Regiment.
Showing how liberal media outlets all stick together, Newsweek made an unusual move this week. Reporting on the brouhaha, National Review pointed out that graduates of Ranger school are regularly referred to as Rangers, citing a 2015 Newsweek article reporting on the first two female graduates of Ranger school. The article went on to say that the graduates “will become Rangers.” So how did Newsweek respond? They went back and retroactively edited the six-year-old article to remove the reference to the women as rangers. Insert the #HeadDesk hashtag here. (Fox News)
“Cotton’s communications director Caroline Tabler tells National Review that Cotton’s office contacted Newsweek this weekend to point out that Newsweek had identified the female Ranger school graduates as Army Rangers in 2015,” National Review continued. “Newsweek responded by editing its 2015 story to conform to Salon’s new smear of Cotton. The 2015 Newsweek story no longer says the two women ‘will become rangers’ — the edited version says they ‘will be allowed to wear the coveted Ranger tab on their uniforms.’ (The original Newsweek story can be viewed here.)”
A correction was added to the bottom of Newsweek’s report, stating, “This article has been changed to note that completion of the course allows one to wear the Ranger tab, but does not make one a Ranger.”
This technicality caused a lot of debate on social media, with liberals (many of whom have never put on a uniform) siding with Salon. For the record, even though Salon doubled down on the attack yesterday, noting that their claim had been fact-checked by Snopes (!?), they have yet to provide a single instance where Cotton claimed to have served with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Even Newsweek, in their original 2015 article, noted that the 75th still doesn’t accept female troops.
So, does earning the Ranger tab allow you to call yourself a Ranger? Opinions vary, but I’ve never seen anyone taking it very seriously before. The reality is that the special ops schools in the American military routinely graduate more troops than are actually needed in service. This allows them to be ready to refill their ranks in the event of attrition.
This situation has personal relevance for our family. My nephew Danny graduated Ranger school and earned the tab, going on to serve three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. But he was never called up to the 75th, serving all his tours with regular infantry units. It’s not that he wasn’t qualified or ready to do so. He just wasn’t chosen for a billet with the 75th. But we still refer to him as a Ranger when making introductions at family reunions. I’ve admitted that there’s a technical difference here, but it’s hardly some sort of “false” claim. Cotton graduated Ranger training just like everyone else who made it through that brutal experience.
A similar situation applies to Navy SEALs. SEAL school also graduates more sailors than are needed to fill the ranks of the various SEAL teams. Some are called up, others are not. There’s a long list of people who want to serve in special ops.
In the end, this is less a story about Senator Cotton’s service designation than it is about how the liberal media will stop at virtually nothing in their efforts to cancel conservatives. Rather than admitting that Cotton wore the Ranger tab with honor, Newsweek went back and created some revisionist history to insult the women who earned that tab in 2015, saying they were not Rangers. And just for the record, the 101st Airborne Division where Cotton served is nearly as legendary as the 75th Ranger Regiment. They are always thrust into the teeth of the action. In just the year 2010, the 101st saw 104 of their own lost in battle in Afghanistan and 105 in Iraq. If you want to try to claim that Cotton’s service to our country was somehow less valiant or honorable because he was never called up by the Ranger Regiment, I would question your values and motivations.