Howard Kurtz interviews TNR’s Franklin Foer again re Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Foer once again mischaracterizes his critics. Either Foer doesn’t understand the scandal that’s swirling around him, or he has chosen defense by offense as a tactical response. Neither is heartening. Neither will lead to the truth.
As conservative bloggers yesterday continued to challenge the veracity of Beauchamp’s accounts, Foer said: “It is really unfortunate that someone like Scott, who was really only trying to tell his particular story, has become a pawn in the debate over the war and the Weekly Standard’s efforts to press an ideological agenda.”
Sigh. The long hard slog continues.
Where is the mass grave, then? Beauchamp’s “particular story” included details about an as yet unreported mass grave that, if it exists, needs to be documented for posterity and added to the charges of those Saddam henchmen who have yet to stand trial. Where is it?
And which unit on FOB Falcon allows its Bradley drivers to play smash-up with multi-million dollar equipment? If what Beauchamp says is true, we have a unit that’s out of control and needs discipline asap. Who is that unit’s CO?
Foer published a set of stories that are either smears or they’re evidence of wrongdoing that needs to be stopped. It’s not about ideology or just one man’s view of the war. Beauchamp’s “particular story” is about the honor of the unit that he wrote about.
Update (AP): Also, for the record:
The magazine’s editor, Franklin Foer, disclosed in an interview that Beauchamp is married to a New Republic staffer, and that is “part of the reason why we found him to be a credible writer.”
Update (AP): Incidentally, why didn’t Kurtz ask him about “gracie” getting canned? If it’s not true, that itself is news worth reporting.
Update (AP): While we wait for the verdict from TNR about Scott Thomas, war reporter, the verdict on Scott Thomas, litterateur, is already in. Here’s the anonymous parody site, here are Ace and his commenters sharing “mindthoughts” in the style of The Master himself, and here’s Sean Gleeson showing us amateurs how it’s done.
Update (AP): Dean sides with the boss contra Ace and me in arguing that this story is a big deal:
In running the Thomas Diarists, be they true or false or somewhere in between, The New Republic attempted to smear the soldiers who are serving honorably in Iraq. That’s the real story here. The New Republic offered up one eye-witness account from a soldier in Baghdad in its last issue; that soldier told stories of horrifying sociopathic behavior. There are tons of other soldiers’ stories from Iraq that more accurately describe what’s going on over there; none of them interested The New Republic. The real story here is the editorial decision making process that led The New Republic to have its own private embed in Iraq, a uniform wearing mole who went to Iraq with the apparent specific purpose of maligning the war effort.
I’m not sure what he means by that last part. If he’s saying they shouldn’t have picked a guy whom they knew was against the war, well, look: they’re a left-wing opinion journal. If NRO or Townhall was shopping for a Baghdad correspondent, they’d surely lean towards someone who supported it. Bias is relevant if the publication claims to be impartial; if it doesn’t, it’s not. I think Dean’s saying more than that, though — namely, that based on the pre-war atrocity fantasias on Beauchamp’s blog, TNR should have wondered if this was a guy in search of a scandal. Which raises an interesting question: what did they know about him before they signed him? Had they read the blog or did they just hire him on his wife’s say so? Would they have googled him and read the blog but for his wife’s say so? I’m reluctant to impose onerous background checks for authors on magazines, but (a) that one doesn’t seem so onerous and (b) the left was in very high dudgeon indeed when WaPo didn’t think to do an exhaustive plagiarism check of everything Ben Domenech had ever written before he was hired. This is a totally different case, though, I’m sure, as The Conscience of America, a.k.a. Glenn Greenwald, will no doubt soon be informing us.