Finally, TNR’s editors get around to addressing the latest Beauchamp mess. They’re doubling down. And publicly sticking to their story.
Which is more than you can say for Scott Thomas Beauchamp.
Foer and company persist in blaming “the Army” for the magazine’s failure to keep its readers apprised of the scandal in a timely, forthcoming manner:
The New Republic is deeply frustrated by the Army’s behavior. TNR has endeavored with good faith to discover whether Beauchamp’s article contained inaccuracies and has repeatedly requested that the Army provide us with documentary evidence that it was fabricated or embellished. Instead of doing this, the Army leaked selective parts of the record—including a conversation that Beauchamp had with his lawyer—continuing a months-long pattern by which the Army has leaked information and misinformation to conservative bloggers while failing to help us with simple requests for documents.
We have worked hard to re-report this piece and will continue to do so. But this process has involved maddening delays compounded by bad faith on the part of at least some officials in the Army. Our investigation has taken far longer than we would like, but it is our obligation and promise to deliver a full account of our findings.
So, TNR has “endeavored with good faith?” Go re-read the transcripts. You be the judge.
Update: The bottom line from Bryan Preston…
Foer can spin and twist his conversations with Beauchamp and various Army officers all he wants. He can suggest that the Army is being devious with him, that it’s strong arming Beauchamp, whatever. But if he can’t verify, after all this time, the existence of that mass grave, and since he now has official records documenting that his reporter has lied to somebody, Foer has no choice but to consider Beauchamp’s credibility as beyond repair and his stories as fatally flawed.
And from Allah:
We learned yesterday, as this was crumbling around TNR, that the left considers this story a terribly silly distraction from the “real issues” that they’re, um, no longer covering. Will TNR’s pushback create Strange New Respect for the saga of Scott Beauchamp among our liberal colleagues? Stay tuned!
And Ace makes a good point about Foer’s wildly exaggerated picture of Beauchamp being “threatened” and who’s doing the threatening:
The privileges and freedoms he speaks of are free use of his cell phone and laptop. Certainly Beauchamp would want access to these things, but it’s hardly the case he was being threatened with three years in Leavenworth…
… Foer says that Beauchamp was not free to talk in the Sept 6th call because he was “under duress” from the Army. He doesn’t mention another sort of duress — the fact that Foer himself repeatedly told Beauchamp his wife’s career would be “harmed” unless he re-affirmed the story. He says in the later conversation, where he claims Beauchamp stood by the story, there was no duress from the Army, as the call was unmonitored.
But the duress from Foer — the “harm” that would befall Ellie Reeves — still was there, no? Foer does not provide a transcript of this call — it would be interesting to see if Foer continues making these vague threats — though he almost certainly recorded the conversation himself and could provide it.
But he chooses not to.
Foer, as noted in the transcript, has been badgering Beauchamp to release his personal statements made during the course of the investigation. It is obvious in reading the transcript that Beauchamp has no intention of making that a priority. The Army cannot release those documents to TNR without Beauchamp’s authorization.
But there are other documents.
After getting off the phone with CENTCOM’s FOIA office just moments ago, I now know that there are a total of 58 pages of sworn statements that have been collected from Beauchamp’s fellow soldiers and are now on their way to legal review.
I must stress that just because there are 58 pages of statements, much of the information contained in these documents is likely to be heavily redacted. The (leaked) letter of concern, and the (leaked) transcript of the call between Foer, Scoblic, and Beauchamp were also part of that request, but at this point, are somewhat unnecessary other than as housekeeping items.
That leaves us with one other known document remaining, the transcript of the interview of investigating officer Major John Cross by The New Republic, which occurred after my interview with Major Cross, published September 10.
I’ve just submitted a new FOIA request for that information, wondering if those speaking on the The New Republic side of the call will still be employed by the magazine by the time the request is processed.
At this moment, I’d say that both the odds, and the truth as we know it, are against them.
Journalistically, I was lucky enough to work at CBS News when it was still shaped by the influence of the Murrow boys. They knew and taught that “everyone is entitled to his own opinions”–and they had them–“but not his own facts.” And I miss the rough old boys and girls of the front page, who’d greet FDR with “Snappy suit, Mr. President,” who’d bribe the guard to tell them what the prisoner said on the way to the chair, and who were not rich and important but performed an extremely important social function.
They found out who, what, where, when, why. And they would have looked at the half-baked, overcooked junior Hemingway of Scott Thomas Beauchamp and said, “That sounds like a buncha hooey.”
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.
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.