Earlier this week I brought you a story from Think Progress on Ruben Mejia, who was reported to have been the son of undocumented immigrants and allegedly a member of the team of Navy SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden. Now, several news outlets have questioned the validity of that story since it’s been widely reported that military has not released the names of those involved in the mission. Additionally, at least of the Mejia family’s neighbors say that the story doesn’t add up.
Turnstyle’s Sara Imjan and Alejandro De La Cruz trace how the story went viral:
Riddled with drama, the story appears to be the byproduct of a proud father getting carried away on a Los Angeles radio station. What was to be a simple and heartfelt gesture has turned into a battle between truth and fiction.
Turnstyle spoke with the Mejia family’s neighbor Michael Weir. He said Ruben’s father became overly zealous during a radio interview. "Ruben is really mad at him for it," Weir says.
As the story goes, Martin Mejia placed a call to La Raza 97.9 [Ed note: they have still not returned our calls] on May 2 to dedicate a song to his son. Unfortunately, the innocent call turned into a tall tale that has since been filtered through newswires across the world.
When mainstream media heard about the story, Weir says they descended on the Mejia’s home in Perris, CA. "That evening, CNN, Telemundo, KNBC, CBS all came, but the story didn’t add up," said Weird. Which means the story ends there.
But the news had already run on one of Mexico’s largest news outlets, El Universal (link in Spanish) through the Notimex wire, with details extracted from the father’s exaggerated story. Mejia’s father purported to have gotten a visit from the U.S. military — which, as has been widely reported, is NOT releasing the names of the SEAL team, or even acknowledging that the SEAL Team 6 that supposedly carried out the raid exists.
Bloggers at Guanabee pointed to irregularities in Meija’s story that they say deviate from standard military protocol. As it stands, the story has yet to be confirmed. For now, it’s unclear whether Martin Mejia committed a big blunder in excitedly revealing his son’s involvement in a sensitive military operation, or exaggerated details of the story altogether. In any case, we regret our error and hope to have a follow up report soon.