Last Friday evening, Salon posted a link to its exposé of Sen. Tom Cotton, whom Salon claimed had campaigned on his nonexistent experience as a U.S. Army Ranger.

Volunteered to be an Army Ranger, fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, earned the Bronze Star … what’s the problem?

Roger Sollenberger writes:

In his first run for Congress, Cotton leaned heavily on his military service, claiming to have been “a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and, in a campaign ad, to have “volunteered to be an Army Ranger.” In reality, Cotton was never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Rather, Cotton attended the Ranger School, a two-month-long, small-unit tactical infantry course that literally anyone in the military is eligible to attend. 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.

Here’s AG Hamilton with a takedown:

The Washington Free Beacon decided to look into Salon’s story and found some funny business going on.

Oops.

What happened?

In his email request, Sollenberger included a link to a Google drive containing video clips of Cotton allegedly stealing valor. Access to the drive was controlled by a woman identified as Michelle Pettigrew, who asked Cotton’s communications director, “Do you want me to make this public?” Moments later, Pettigrew followed up: “Sorry, I meant to send this to someone else!”

Pettigrew did not respond to a request for comment. Salon executive editor Andrew O’Hehir told the Free Beacon that its reporting processes are “proprietary information.”

Pettigrew is a principal at Original Sources, a San Francisco-based research firm that has successfully placed “investigative stories” everywhere from the New York Times to the New Yorker and the Washington Post, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The Free Beacon decided to look into Pettigrew to see how she measured up:

One of the first employees at the online-auction company Onsale, Pettigrew struck gold—literally—when she married her boss, Onsale cofounder and CEO Jerry Kaplan.

While Cotton was serving in the lowly 101st Airborne in Iraq and Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, Kaplan and Pettigrew were busy renovating their multimillion-dollar San Francisco mansion—adding an outdoor swimming pool, a life-sized chess set, a custom-designed chicken coop, and a “farmer’s-market-inspired edible garden enclosed by a white fence” to the Georgian colonial.

Imagine that.

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Update:

Cotton responds with the same story he’s always told:

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