I’ve tried to keep all emotion out of the TNR’s Scott Thomas Beauchamp scandal, but frankly, Peter Beinart’s defense of TNR in today’s What’s Your Problem (on NRO) made my blood boil a bit.
He professes shock, shock that anyone on the right would seek ideological causes for the scandal in an ideological magazine such as The New Republic.
He calls Beauchamp a “good writer,” which is obviously untrue. The man writes with more purple than Prince.
He calls conservative criticism of TNR “cartoonish.” What has been cartoonish is the Apocalypse, Now! approach in which a soldier outs himself as so greatly stressed by war that he mocks disfigured women, when he had never even been to war when that incident is now supposed to have occurred. That’s cartoonish.
And then he says that TNR has done a good job trying to re-report the facts underlying Beauchamp’s writing?
Oh really, Peter?
Then where’s the stratified mass grave? It ought to be somewhere near FOB Falcon. Has TNR even tried to locate it, or are you all content with Beauchamp characterizing a children’s cemetery as a “mass grave,” and writing that it was never reported up the chain of command, when PAO at Falcon is fully aware of the cemetery’s existence? Are you content with that? Is that good fact-finding?
And are Glocks only used by Iraqi police in Iraq, or is the war zone country awash in Glocks and all kinds of other weapons, being used by nearly all sides?
Beinart drops another little bombshell a couple minutes in, that his own sister-in-law was also hired to write diaries from Iraq. Can you say “cronyism,” Peter? And doesn’t this practice of hiring family members speak both to ideology and to the difficulty of dealing with problems once they arise? I’m referring to “Gracie” (whom your magazine allegedly fired for telling the truth) and the assertion that “Frank doesn’t want to tell Ellie that her husband is a liar.” Did that happen? Did your magazine fire someone for hinting to your critics that there was more to the Beauchamp story than just a weird soldier in Iraq, but pointed out a dangerous hiring practice at TNR? Has your re-reporting even touched on that? Do you know who “Gracie” is and what his or her current employment status is?
Beinart even runs off into “it could have happened” territory a few minutes in, which is a variation on “fake but accurate.” Geez. Jonah Goldberg does a pretty good job of maintaining a civil corral around Beinart’s attempts to wander off the central focus of the story, but this story really required a more thorough and even hostile cross-examination. Beinart does nothing so much as continue the obfuscation and cover-up concerning Beauchamp, and is never really challenged on the hard facts of the case, such as:
1. Where’s the stratified mass grave?
2. Does the melted woman exist, and why couldn’t Pvt Beauchamp recognize her uniform as either civilian or military, and why did he intially report that his mocking her occurred in Iraq and then move the incident to Kuwait? What does that do to the overall narrative of Beauchamp’s being turned into a monster by Bush’s war? TNR “confirming the woman” doesn’t cut it, guys.
3. Are the Iraqi police the only ones using Glocks in all of Iraq?
4. Did TNR really put softball, vague questions to the Bradley expert in an attempt to lead him to offer vague support for Beauchamp’s dog story?
5. Why did TNR report that the Army was stonewalling its investigation, when Beauchamp has been free to speak all along?
6. Does TNR plan to continue to hire relatives of staffers to write reports from Iraq, and only fact-check those reports when criticized after publication?
And while Beinart delivers the magazine’s tapdancing defense on NRO, TNR itself remains silent four days after returning from vacation.
Update: I knew all this fact-checking would eventually come back to bite me. Now, Scott Thomas is suing me for $100 trillion dollars. I’ll see you in court, buddy!