Michael Yon: The rehabilitation of Scott Beauchamp; Update: VDH wonders, why won’t TNR cut bait?

posted at 4:18 pm on October 25, 2007 by Allahpundit

A noble sentiment but one that amounts to little more than “he’s not all bad.”

I was at a reconciliation meeting between Sunni and Shia in the West Rashid district of Baghdad on 24 October, and it happened by complete coincidence that I was with Beauchamp’s battalion. In fact, I was with his old company commander for much of the day, although I had no idea for most of it that I was with Beauchamp’s old company commander.

At the reconciliation meeting, Beauchamp’s battalion commander, LTC George Glaze, politely introduced himself and asked who I wrote for. When I replied that I just have a little blog, the word caught his ears and he mentioned Beauchamp, who I acknowledged having heard something about. LTC Glaze seemed protective of Beauchamp, despite how the young soldier had maligned his fellow soldiers. In fact, the commander said Beauchamp, having learned his lesson, was given the chance to leave or stay…

Beauchamp is young; under pressure he made a dumb mistake. In fact, he has not always been an ideal soldier. But to his credit, the young soldier decided to stay, and he is serving tonight in a dangerous part of Baghdad. He might well be seriously injured or killed here, and he knows it. He could have quit, but he did not. He faced his peers. I can only imagine the cold shoulders, and worse, he must have gotten. He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right. Whatever price he has to pay, he is paying it…

The commander said I was welcome to talk with Beauchamp, but clearly he did not want anyone else coming at his soldier. LTC Glaze told me that at least one blog had even called for Beauchamp to be killed, which seems rather extreme even on a very bad day. LTC Glaze wants to keep Beauchamp, and hopes folks will let it rest. I’m with LTC Glaze on this: it’s time to let Beauchamp get back to the war. The young soldier learned his lessons. He paid enough to earn his second chance that he must know he will never get a third.

Good for Beauchamp for not walking away. But the only people preventing him from getting back to the war are TNR and, possibly, Beauchamp himself. This goes back to my post yesterday and the two possibilities identified by Ace: either Beauchamp hasn’t released his sworn statements, in which case he’s left TNR in a type of limbo, or else he has released them and TNR’s sitting on them in hopes everyone will forget about this and it’ll go away. Yon’s appeal reads like a plea to bloggers but I’m not sure which bloggers he means. Bob Owens? Michael Goldfarb? TNR can put the whole thing to bed by simply walking away from the story, which it should have done after that first phone call with Beauchamp, or Beauchamp can force them to put it to bed by telling them flat out that he’s no longer standing by the story and they should therefore commence eating shinola. Instead he no-commented them to death and promised to get them those statements, and after six weeks — nothing. Radio silence from all parties.

To be clear, Yon isn’t making excuses for TNR. They’re the guilty parties in his retelling of the story, and no one would disagree, but even so this evil editor/good-but-wayward soldier dynamic he’s trying to create here doesn’t sit right with me. Beauchamp deserves credit for fulfilling his obligation to the military, but what about his obligation to Foer and Scoblic (and to his wife, most of all) not to hang them out to dry with half-baked calumnies against his unit? He made a mistake, says Yon, which is true — but so did Foer. TNR’s lied, true — but not as much as Beauchamp, apparently. They gave Beauchamp a huge break by not only publishing a young writer but putting their trust in him, post-Glass, seemingly sight unseen, and he dumped all over it. Their fact-checking failures and especially their stonewalling after this came out are their fault entirely but let’s not minimize the extent to which they were wronged just because Beauchamp’s still willing to man his post.

And now that that’s been said, go read what the Commissar has to say about the left’s highly nuanced take on this rather unfortunate news they wished didn’t exist. Beauchamp’s a distraction from the “real issues,” it seems, except that they don’t seem too keen these days to talk about those “real issues,” either.

Update: Victor Davis Hanson asks the ultimate exit question in this fiasco. Four reasons I can think of:

1. They know something we don’t that’s going to prove Beauchamp’s stories were true. Unlikely.

2. After “Shattered Glass,” they can’t afford to retract until every last possible face-saving measure is exhausted. That’s why they’re clinging to the hope of those documents.

3. Residual personal loyalty to Beauchamp’s wife, who’s been publicly humiliated by this. Foer actually mentioned her several times during the phone call with Beauchamp.

4. Pride. There’s a certain sense here on TNR’s part, I think, that serious intellectuals like themselves shouldn’t be laid low by the hoi polloi of the right-wing blogosphere. It’s one thing for Forbes to out them, but Confederate Yankee and the Weekly Standard? Why, that would be simply insufferable. Ironically, the best example of this attitude comes from a conservative blogger, Ross Douthat, who sneered his way through a BloggingheadsTV segment with TNR’s Jonathan Chait by deriding “The Michelle Malkin Slash Ace of Spades Front” — even while himself espousing all the basic points about Beauchamp that the Michelle Malkin Slash Ace of Spades Front had already uncovered. It was his way of signaling to Chait that he was an opponent but not an enemy and that they were of the same intellectual stock, unlike the mad blog rabble that’d been hounding ol’ Frank. Whatever they might say publicly, I assure you that having to retract at the behest of the righty blogosphere will for TNR be like chewing, well, glass.

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I am trying to imagine the pressure of proving myself to the soldiers whose lives I swear to protect — and whom I have slandered — while at the same time saving my marriage after putting my wife in a ridiculously difficult professional situation.

Yeah, he has problems of his own and needs to be left to fix them. I fully well hope that he is able to achieve both goals.

Jaibones on October 25, 2007 at 4:29 PM

I’m sorry, but in matters of war and fighting for one’s country, there is an exception. He chose to face death, shoulder to shoulder with the men he slandered. That took humility.

We need to honor those who correct course.

Beauchamp deserves redemption. What would you say if he did die in one of those rocket attacks Yon talked about?

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 4:29 PM

At least Beauchamp is manning up and staying at his post. That’s his primary job in life right now, not blogging, not writing crap articles for TNR. If he’s doing it and doing it well, good on him.

Mindcrime on October 25, 2007 at 4:30 PM

Let me put it another way: unless you are a combat veteran, I don’t think you have the right to judge Beauchamp. Don’t get me wrong, I despise what he wrote. I hated him for writing it. But his latest actions have proven me wrong and underscored the need to withhold judgment of others.

I despise liberalism but I’ll respect any lib who has the balls to admit a mistake and do the right thing. Honor is in such short supply on the left these days. You’d think we’d want to support such behavior….

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 4:34 PM

The guy still has a lot to prove, but electing to stay under the circumstances reveals something that we may have missed about this guy’s character on the first pass. We can’t see into his heart, of course, but for now his has my guarded benefit of the doubt.

mugged on October 25, 2007 at 4:35 PM

That’s his primary job in life right now, not blogging, not writing crap articles for TNR.

Yes, as I said twice in the post, good for him for doing it. Why does that absolve him from what appears to be a shocking series of lies — all for personal gain, it seems, per the verdict about him trying to become the next Hemingway? Don’t forget who the villain was in “Shattered Glass.”

Allahpundit on October 25, 2007 at 4:36 PM

Allahpundit on October 25, 2007 at 4:36 PM

I don’t think it does absolve him ultimately. He should face the music on that after he leaves either the war zone or the service. I dunno how though. By the time that happens, we’ll have all forgotten him, I expect.

Mindcrime on October 25, 2007 at 4:40 PM

Beauchamp can force them to put it to bed by telling them flat out that he’s no longer standing by the story and they should therefore commence eating shinola. Instead he no-commented them to death and promised to get them those statements, and after six weeks — nothing. Radio silence from all parties.

You’re assuming he hasn’t. Do you really think if he had gone to TNR and told them to drop it they would have? They express in the transcript a desire to control the story. Hell at this point anythings possible.

bj1126 on October 25, 2007 at 4:41 PM

He can be removed from the list of “phony soldiers” pending further developments.

boris on October 25, 2007 at 4:43 PM

Allahpundit on October 25, 2007 at 4:36 PM

I just don’t see what makes you a better judge than Yon.

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 4:44 PM

Well glad to see he’s stepping up to the plate and now doing what is right. I think the LTC probably had to do a lot of talking to his men and women. I hope he does prove himself worthy of the LTC’s words. Just don’t know how I would have reacted to him though if I was out with him. He’s dumb and he’s young and I hope he’s learned a lesson. However, Unamused, I found that most the liberals I served with (there were a few) basically wanted to get in, get out and have the “street cred” old Scott or NPR was talking about when this first broke. Does anyone know how long he has left on his commitment? Haven’t been on in a long time I know but one of my former Soldiers sent me the link to Drudge before it went down. I hope that Scott is sincere, hell he has to be, he is depending on these guys to look out for his butt just as much as they depend on him for theirs. Wonder if his wife will be waiting at the airport for him when he does return? Does she still work for NPR?

Catie96706 on October 25, 2007 at 4:49 PM

I appreciate Yon’s generosity, and sincerely want to see no harm come to Beauchamp or any other soldier for that matter.

I still see a significant disconnect between what STB wrote with complete disregard to the honor and reputation of the men he serves with, and this suddenly discovered decency and sense of obligation. It’s almost “story book”. I hope this young man can redeem himself in the eyes of those soldiers in his unit; to the people that really matter.

Part of that process, albeit a small part, might include publicly recognizing that TNR and Foer’s expectations were that he would confirm their dim view of the military and the mission. Certainly he was aware of their expectation, and likely it was confirmed for him in his commiunications with TNR staff, including with ol’ El.

Real contrition should include exposing the role of those who desperately wanted to show his comrades in the worst possible light.

Alamo on October 25, 2007 at 4:49 PM

I just don’t see what makes you a better judge than Yon.

A better judge of what? Of Beauchamp’s soldiering ability? I’m not, nor do I claim to be. I’m claiming that Yon’s letting him off too easy vis-a-vis what he did to TNR. Why is he any better a judge than I am at that?

Allahpundit on October 25, 2007 at 4:51 PM

It’s not about Beauchamp anymore. It’s about TNR.

TheBigOldDog on October 25, 2007 at 4:55 PM

I found that most the liberals I served with (there were a few) basically wanted to get in, get out and have the “street cred” old Scott or NPR was talking about when this first broke.

I would expect no less than that from libs. Like most situations, they go in with some preconceived notion of how things are.

But I doubt that at this stage of the game (70 soldiers killed in Beauchamp’s unit so far) Beauchamp has any doubts as to the nature of life in Iraq………..and yet he chose to stay.

Had we not already condemned him for what he’s already done, there would be no need to call this a second chance. He had a chance to run in shame and decided to stick it out. All I’m saying is that we may want to err on the side of mercy in this case.

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 4:56 PM

Sorry to go off-topic, but an arrest has been made in the desecration of that marine’s grave in Liberty, TX. It wasn’t a moonbat after all. It seems to have been a crackhead.

SailorDave on October 25, 2007 at 4:58 PM

The young soldier learned his lessons. He paid enough to earn his second chance that he must know he will never get a third.

OK, but what about his squadmates/platoonmates that he held up as barbarous and cruel? Where do they get their reputations back? Why will he not publically exonerate them from his slanders?

unless you are a combat veteran, I don’t think you have the right to judge Beauchamp.

OK, that sounds a bit too “chickenhawkish” for me. But as I just happen to be a combat veteran, I will judge him. He deserves his second chance, only so long as he can remove the stain of dishonor on himself, and that which he placed on others. He should publically apologize and remove all doubt as to his fellow soldiers behavior.

major john on October 25, 2007 at 4:58 PM

Beauchamp didn’t slander any one single person with those stories. He hurt the entire war effort. It’s great that he’s doing the job he signed up to do instead of wussing out and high tailing it for Canada. But that absolutely doesn’t mean he no longer has to own up to his bull, and plainly and specifically tell the truth. He doesn’t just owe that to TNR, he owes that to the entire nation.

Savage on October 25, 2007 at 4:58 PM

But as I just happen to be a combat veteran, I will judge him. He deserves his second chance, only so long as he can remove the stain of dishonor on himself, and that which he placed on others. He should publically apologize and remove all doubt as to his fellow soldiers behavior.

Precisely. To everyone here who’s willing to let bygones be bygones, what would you think if Major J was in Beauchamp’s unit? When push comes to shove, it wasn’t Frank Foer claiming that the boys were having a gay old time laughing at a disfigured woman in the mess hall.

Allahpundit on October 25, 2007 at 5:00 PM

Why is he any better a judge than I am at that?

Because Yon made his determination about Beauchamp having had the experience of bullets whizzing over his head and his buddies being blown to bits at his side. War has changed Beauchamp and yet he fights on. That deserves a little more respect than you seem willing to dole out.

If you know what combat feels like and how it has influenced your mind, I’ll stand down. There’s a reason Yon made reference to combat stress in that last dispatch.

War doesn’t know conservative from liberal, democrat from republican. If we expect to win, we need to honor those who choose to fight. There is no honor in saying “good on him” in one breath and then “but he needs to pay” in the other. That just stinks of vicious partisanship.

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 5:04 PM

Sorry guys, but I can think of no better way to correct his slandering of our military than by recommitting himself to it.

He’s willing to die to correct his mistake. Let’s wait until after he gets back home to hear what he has to say about it. Until them, let’s give him our support as a soldier of the United States.

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 5:07 PM

He deserves his second chance, only so long as he can remove the stain of dishonor on himself, and that which he placed on others. He should publically apologize and remove all doubt as to his fellow soldiers behavior.

I agree. Lets see what his service record is after his discharge. If he truly has come around, we will also see the apology. But I think it’s too early to expect one from him now. It appears as if he does not want to further injure his relationship with his comrades by remaining in the public eye. Right now, no news is good news. Those boys have enough to deal with without this stupid scandal.

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 5:12 PM

Sorry guys, but I can think of no better way to correct his slandering of our military than by recommitting himself to it.

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 5:07 PM

Oh, I can think of a better, less symbolic way. Admitting that he trashed fellow soldiers for personal gain instead of dancing around TNR for months, helping to skew public perception of the war and our troops. Enlisting in the military is one of the most noble things an American can do, but it doesn’t give a person carte blanche to lie.

Savage on October 25, 2007 at 5:13 PM

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 5:12 PM

If that were true, he’d either release his sworn statements, or if TNR has it, say they have it, and that you want it released. Once we know the truth, and he wants to move on and serve his nation, then it should be dropped and be forgiven fully, but you don’t get to leave the story ambiguous. He’s not necessarily off the hook yet.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 5:17 PM

Update: Victor Davis Hanson asks the ultimate exit question in this fiasco. Four reasons I can think of:

In these situations it’s almost always #4 Pride. Think Dan Rather. Think France Channel 2 (Muhammad al Dura).

aunursa on October 25, 2007 at 5:33 PM

Think anytime Patterico blogs about the LA Times.

aunursa on October 25, 2007 at 5:36 PM

Well, if I recall correctly Beauchamp was never hiding his, uhm, creative approach to writing.

The point here is that Beauchamp arrived at the scene saying, look, I don’t care about the truth, I just want to bring a good story. And TNR said, look, here’s a man who doesn’t care about the narrative, but only about the truth. Beauchamp never did his own sales pitch, but it was Foer who put him out there as a credible soldier where as in fact Beauchamp himself admitted in his own blog that, basically, he’s just goofing around.

As for absolution, fact is that Beauchamp does indeed risk his life every day out there. No, that doesn’t nullify his past mistakes. But as a matter of fact not a single person died due to Beauchamp’s fairy tales. But he might die due to staying there. Think about it.

Niko on October 25, 2007 at 5:40 PM

Niko on October 25, 2007 at 5:40 PM

I’ve read over every word on that blog more than once, he’s NEVER said he was goofing around.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 5:44 PM

You can’t be a soldier and at the same time play the sophisticated state-side games of left-v-right intellectual journals. There are probably factors and timings that Beauchamp needs time to properly express, but he can’t take his concentration off of his far more urgent task, so he’s solved the problem for now by blowing off the jerks at TNR. Their reputation is their own problem at this point.

pedestrian on October 25, 2007 at 5:45 PM

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 5:44 PM

In his own words:

I know that NOT participating in a war (and such a misguided one at that) should be considered better than wanting to be in one just to write a book…but you know, maybe id rather be a good man than a good artist…be both? Some can and some cant…i guess it all depends on how great an artist, or how great a man they want to be. Sometimes it feels like i have to choose between being totally loyal to thoughts of my future family OR totally loayl to chasing down the muse. must find a middle ground.

Doesn’t sound like he takes anything about his deployment serious. The point here is that from his own writing he admitted that he’s in there to become a famous writer. It was out there in the open, for everyone to read. Not hidden, not password-protected or anything. And prior to the bust only TNR had known his real identity and only TNR had the means to investigate his past writing and come to the conclusion that this man is a jerk.

Niko on October 25, 2007 at 5:52 PM

Niko on October 25, 2007 at 5:52 PM

That doesn’t look like goofing off to me, looks like he was planning on doing what he did, and he was serious about it, beyond that, you don’t write pieces for a fairly well known magazine when you’re goofing off.

If you remember his post about returning to America an Author, and the Army report that stated he wanted to be Hemingway, he was serious.

Read up, I took his entire blog apart, I’ll note you should look do a word find for the words “I’ll return to America an Author”

Note the overlap between certain details between his blog and his TNR writings.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 6:09 PM

Whatever they might say publicly, I assure you that having to retract at the behest of the righty blogosphere will for TNR be like chewing, well, glass.

Best.

Pun.

Ever.

thirteen28 on October 25, 2007 at 6:09 PM

Rereading it, you’re talking his service…OK, that he was goofing off about, not his writing, that he was serious about.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 6:10 PM

No Dude. They won’t cut bait because they don’t have to. Their customers don’t care. They want stories, true or not, that confirm their biases.

TheBigOldDog on October 25, 2007 at 6:10 PM

Niko on October 25, 2007 at 5:52 PM

Okay, we were arguing past each other…saying the same thing, sorry!

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 6:12 PM

what about his obligation to Foer and Scoblic (and to his wife, most of all) not to hang them out to dry with half-baked calumnies against his unit?

A better judge of what? Of Beauchamp’s soldiering ability? I’m not, nor do I claim to be. I’m claiming that Yon’s letting him off too easy vis-a-vis what he did to TNR. Why is he any better a judge than I am at that?

Allahpundit on October 25, 2007 at 4:51 PM

Isn’t this a case of (excuse the bluntness) “Bros before Hos”? Seriously, who is more important at the moment, Frank Foer and his wife or the other guys fighting an dying along side him? Frank Foer and Mrs. B will still be there, if he dosen’t have is head in the game his squadmates might not be.

Sorry guys, but I can think of no better way to correct his slandering of our military than by recommitting himself to it.

He’s willing to die to correct his mistake. Let’s wait until after he gets back home to hear what he has to say about it. Until them, let’s give him our support as a soldier of the United States.

unamused on October 25, 2007 at 5:07 PM

My thoughts exactly…

liquidflorian on October 25, 2007 at 6:18 PM

I’m wondering if it’s easier for Beachamp to stay in Iraq, even in combat, than coming home to face a thousand embarassing questions. Maybe he hopes he can stay out of sight in Iraq for a year and everyone will forget about him by the time he sets foot in America again.

Tantor on October 25, 2007 at 6:24 PM

I’m wondering if it’s easier for Beachamp to stay in Iraq, even in combat, than coming home to face a thousand embarassing questions. Maybe he hopes he can stay out of sight in Iraq for a year and everyone will forget about him by the time he sets foot in America again.

Tantor on October 25, 2007 at 6:24 PM

Come on be serious. Questions don’t kill you. IEDs, mortars and bullets do. His leadership felt that he is worth taking a chance on. We should be confident in their judgment. Remember that they put their lives on the line as well with such a decision.

Bradky on October 25, 2007 at 6:32 PM

Bradky on October 25, 2007 at 6:32 PM

Bradky, look at the guys blog, and the Army’s paper, guy wanted to be Hemingway, Hemingway! With that kind of ego, he’d probably rather be in a fricken battlefield.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 6:45 PM

…rather be in a fricken battlefield over being faced with questions.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 6:46 PM

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 6:45 PM

Bad Candy, as I said his leadership is confident in their decision. I like to think that if they thought he had some sort of “Hemmingway agenda” they wouldn’t have let him stay.

Bradky on October 25, 2007 at 6:50 PM

I really don’t care what happens to Beauchamp. He has to live with the men he defamed. What bothers me is that Foer and the TNR editorial staff won’t suck it up and take it like men. They screwed up in their clear zeal to defame the US Army and GIs. They should’ve swallowed their pride right away, apologized and hoped that their American compatriots would forgive them (surely the media folks would have as we all well know). But, they didn’t do that, so they deserve every bit of scorn that they have coming to them. Pathetic roaches.

MikeHu on October 25, 2007 at 6:59 PM

Bradky on October 25, 2007 at 6:50 PM

Not my point, I’m just arguing out Tantor’s comment makes sense. For a guy with Beauchamp’s ego, its probably more comfortable to stay in the battlefield than come home now and face tough questions and scrutiny.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 7:11 PM

Folks, I don’t think anyone will confuse me as a fan of Beauchamp, but he was given the option of staying in and putting his life on the line, or going home. He chose the harder, deadlier option, and that is nothing to be sneezed at.

Yes, I would prefer that he clearly recant, but keep in mind that there may be reasons he cannot or will not do so that we are unaware of.

Bob Owens on October 25, 2007 at 7:32 PM

Yes, I would prefer that he clearly recant, but keep in mind that there may be reasons he cannot or will not do so that we are unaware of.

Bob Owens on October 25, 2007 at 7:32 PM

Good points. My opinion is that his leadership set out some pretty clear expectations for him that likely included not speaking “outside of the chain” for the time being.

TNR is the real villain in this whole debacle. Fighting and winning the war is the job of our troops, not blogging, no matter how compelling the story (or accurate/inaccurate). Write all you want when you come back but put it to the side and stay focused on the task at hand while in theater.

Bradky on October 25, 2007 at 7:40 PM

do I have to get out the quote boxes and show you where I think it was Bryan said that this was not about BoChamp anymore? he said it’s about TNR…

I commend Yon and the Commander for the graciousness, and Beauchamp for his bravery… the jury is out for me until I see what he writes after. if there is an after.

Kaptain Amerika on October 25, 2007 at 8:22 PM

I’ll agree that the actual focus of the story now needs to be on TNR itself to open up and tell the truth, but I’m not ready to give Beauchamp a pass yet, cuz I’m not ready to concede that he’s 100% sincere, this is the same guy who went to a battlefield in the first place to boost his personal credibility for his writing career.

Bad Candy on October 25, 2007 at 8:30 PM

Beauchamp is not the story here, and if he’s taken and internalized his wake-up call, well…he’s got a war to fight, and that’s where his focus needs to be. The lingering repurcussions from this for him can wait until he’s back.

TNR is the story and they have no excuses for stonewalling. But Beauchamp, like it or don’t, has better things to do.

Pablo on October 25, 2007 at 8:50 PM

This guy is a coward and will anything to cover his butt. TNR is no better and they deserve each other.

Wade on October 25, 2007 at 8:59 PM

But I think it’s too early to expect one from him now. It appears as if he does not want to further injure his relationship with his comrades by remaining in the public eye.

How does one further injure a relationship by leaving accusations against them lingering? He needs to clear up the accusations he has made against his fellow soldiers. Now. Then, he can be judged by his conduct, going forward from then.

As for the TNR…I think they have gone past the point where anything short of numerous firings, expansive apologies and total retractions will allow them to remain credible in future for publishing news (and a diminished respect for opinion pieces too).

major john on October 25, 2007 at 9:04 PM

Nice pic of Beauchamp.

What a faggot.

Coronagold on October 25, 2007 at 9:59 PM

So . . . It appears that “war stress” does not cause our soldiers to turn into horrible baby eating monsters, but rather may cause a self-absorbed soldier who fabricates news items to become a (hopefully) responsible soldier. I was full of hatred for Beauchamp, but Yon brings a great perspective and I am compelled to agree with him. Give the guy a chance, but he still needs to retract his story if he has not already.

infidel2 on October 26, 2007 at 11:10 AM