American Sniper co-author Scott McEwen is pushing back against accusations that Navy SEAL Chris Kyle exaggerated his medal count, and said people on the left want to tear down his friend's character because they don't "like to see heroes coming from the military."
McEwen disputed the accuracy of a report by The Intercept that featured interviews with unnamed sources who said discrepancies in Kyle's military records indicate he deliberately misled the public. McEwan speculated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Friday that the allegations gained traction because they were "clickbait" ready, but he said "something else is going on."
"I think there's a group of people in this society that really doesn't like to see heroes coming from the military. I think that's in a large degree from the Left — I think the Left doesn't like heroes from the military like Chris [Kyle] who are larger than life. There just seems to be a desire to tear that type of character down," said McEwen.
American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S History became a bestselling book before being adapted into a successful movie in 2014. Kyle was murdered by a fellow veteran in 2013.
The Hollywood Reporter published its own analysis before interviewing McEwen, and concluded that "the newly released documents were inconclusive — that the document that typically is the definitive record of military service matched Kyle's claims and that the Navy had not yet publicly stated this document or the facts within it were incorrect." The Navy is conducting an investigation into the allegations.
In his autobiography, Kyle reported he ended his career with "two Silver Stars and five Bronze [Stars], all for valor." Kyle's discharge form, known as a DD-214, said he earned two Silver Stars and six Bronze Stars. Navy officials asserted the document is "not authoritative" and speculated that if Kyle earned commendations through classified operations, they would not necessarily be made public in the same way.
In addition, The Hollywood Reporter claimed one of Kyle's Silver Stars was later downgraded to a Bronze Star, so "it's possible that he was counting the original medal in his tally."
McEwen said he found the article in The Intercept to be "lacking in credibility as well as in content." He said the "only things that are cited in there is an allegation that some unnamed Navy official said that Chris earned fewer medals than were found in his official record — a document that's called the DD-214 — and the assertion that Chris was only given three or four commendations that could be gleaned from certain other documents."
"It's incumbent on people who do report on this kind of thing to really look at their facts, and do a job that is worthy of reporting ... If you're going to dispute the official and complete record, you better have pretty darned good stuff to be able to do that," he added.
McEwen said the authors of American Sniper followed the "statutory requirements that any book that involves active duty experiences be submitted for vetting through the Department of Defense." He said there was "never any argument or even discussion that disputed a single thing in [the DD-214 form]."
"I believe it's accurate. I'm not aware of any discrepancy whatsoever between the DD-214 and the actual facts out there, and if there was, I believe it would have been incumbent upon the Navy and/or the SEALs to inform us of this," said McEwen.