Greenville News Libels Congressional Candidate Ilario Pantano

The political slant of The Greenville News is obvious for all to see, but rarely gets so blatant as this attack on North Carolina congressional candidate Ilario Pantano:

Greenville Online Libels Marine

The headline for the piece is “Ex-Marine Accused of Murder Now Running for Congress.” Scintillating but false. It would be more accurate to say that Pantano was acquitted of murder … in 2005. But here’s how GreenvilleOnline.com reports the story:

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A former Marine once charged with murder in the deaths of two Iraqis is running for Congress in North Carolina

Ilario Pantano announced his candidacy Thursday in Wilmington. He is seeking the Republican nomination. The 35-year-old Pantano will challenge Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre for North Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District.

Pantano shot two men in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, in 2004 and hung a warning sign on their corpses. A Marine general decided in 2005 not to bring Pantano to trial, following the advice of an officer who presided over the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing.

Now one could point out that this is an AP report, but look at the difference between GreenvilleOnline’s AP piece and the same piece from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A former Marine cleared of wrongdoing in the deaths of two Iraqis is running for Congress in North Carolina.

Ilario Pantano announced his candidacy Thursday in Wilmington. He is seeking the Republican nomination. The 35-year-old wants to challenge Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre for North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District.

Pantano shot two men in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, in 2004 and hung a warning sign on their corpses. He claimed self defense and a Marine general decided not to bring him to trial.

The subtle difference in the text of the GreenvilleOnline piece works to paint Pantano as if he’s still thought to be guilty but got off on a technicality. That’s not the case, as forensic evidence proved that Pantano’s version of the incident was the correct account.

But the headline, which each paper running an AP piece chooses itself, is the real tell. In the AJC, the headline reads “NC ex-Marine Announces He’s Running for Congress.”

It’s a big difference.

I can’t think of any reason for The Greenville News to print such a misleading headline and make these minor alterations to the text except as a way to campaign against Ilario Pantano. Is that what a newspaper is supposed to do? Pantano was proven innocent, he was not just let off the hook. Why would The Greenville News want people to think differently?

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