I was reading a paper from a reputable journal and found that the authors misrepresented earlier papers that they cited, by saying something like
Theory X was developed in [A, B, and C], but the underlying assumption was not general enough, and therefore it is insufficient to address our problem, which warrants a more general approach.
The fact is that A, B, and C (which are well-known papers in the field) actually presented a general theory, which is applicable also to the problem considered in their paper. The rest of the paper sounds like an argument against something that was not there in the first place.
I think it is a serious misrepresentation if they did it intentionally. Otherwise, they should have been more familiar with the papers they cited. The fact that such misrepresentation slipped past the peer-reviewing stage also suggests that the review was questionable.
As a reader of the paper, what should I do if I find such misrepresentation?
In my case, the first author of the paper is someone I personally know.