A Christmas gift for the staff of TNR, courtesy of Borderpundit:
Well, well, well. Ready for your weekend schadenfreude? At long last, TNR ‘fesses up to the Scott Thomas Beauchamp debacle. In an act of grace and professionalism, the magazine has thanked its critics and apologized to the military. No, just kidding about the thanking and apologizing part.
Read the whole thing here and watch TNR’s defenders (and advertisers) weep. The maxi-mea culpa runs more than 10 pages and thousands and thousands of words (self-pitying, rationalizing, messenger-blaming), but this is the belated bottom line: The Beauchamp stories are bullcrap. Franklin Foer’s conclusion:
When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.
Buh-bye, Franklin Foer.
Stay tuned for more…
Update: Pay special attention to this admission in Foer’s windy piece…
Fact-checking is a process used by most magazines (but not most newspapers) to independently verify what’s in their articles. Beauchamp’s anonymity complicated this process. Because we promised to protect his identity, we were reluctant to call Army public affairs to review his claims. What’s more, the fact-checking of first-person articles about personal experiences necessarily relies heavily on the author’s word and description of events.
But there was one avoidable problem with our Beauchamp fact-check. His wife, Reeve, was assigned a large role in checking his third piece. While we believe she acted with good faith and integrity–not just in this instance, but throughout this whole ordeal–there was a clear conflict of interest. At the time, our logic–in hindsight, obviously flawed–was that corresponding with a soldier in Iraq is logistically difficult and Reeve was already routinely speaking with him. It was a mistake–and we’ve imposed new rules to prevent future fact-checking conflicts of interest.
Who’s ludicrous, now?
Update: Foer discloses an instant-message exchange with Beauchamp about the non-existent disfigured civilian female contractor whom Beauchamp claimed he had taunted while on the battlefront in Iraq–supposedly a sign of how war dehumanized him and his fellow soldiers. When challenged, you’ll recall, Beauchamp then claimed that it happened in Kuwait. Before he had gone to war. Here’s the moment of emblematic moment of discovery:
tnr: where did you see the crypt keeper?
Beauchamp: are you there?
Beauchamp: the last thing i got was “where did you see the crypt keeper”
Beauchamp: the dfac on falcon or chow hall, as it IS commonly called
tnr: what about kuwait?
Beauchamp: brb [be right back]
Nine minutes of silence
tnr: you there?
Ten minutes of silence
Beauchamp: ok just did a sworn
Beauchamp: saying that i wrote the
Beauchamp: theyre taking away my
tnr: fuck is this it for communication?
Beauchamp: yeah and im fucked
tnr: they said that?
Beauchamp: because you’re right the crypt keep WAS in Kuwait
FUCK FUCK FUCK
Update: Check out the comments section at TNR. Scorching…
“When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.” So you took 15 PAGES to say that you were WRONG, and even then lacked the courage to actually confess to error. You long ago added intellectual cowardice, to the usual helpings of intellectual dishonesty, but did you really have to take 15 pages to so clearly prove the points made by your opponents. Could you not simply have said — “We screwed up. We apologize.” Guess not. And I really appreciated this one passage — “Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that.” That was classic on so many levels. Even better than the petty uncalled-foer, drive-by, ad hominem slur against Matt Sanchez. You must be ever so proud of that sleazy, cowardly, remark. I know I would be. Actual STANDARDS in the New Republic. Who would’ve thunk it ? ROTFLOL.
| Posted by brooklyn red
5 of 72 | warn tnr | respond
so you lied?
| Posted by Joe Humphrey
6 of 72 | warn tnr | respond
After four and a half months of utter nonsense about recanting and re-recanting and hearing from many thousands of honest warriors you spend countless words across 14 oages to finally admit that you are standing down from drom the Beauchamp fables. Amazing, simply amazing! You should be ashamed.
| Posted by Chris Christner
7 of 72 | warn tnr | respond
You broke every rule of journalism and in the process slandered our military. At the very least you owe them an apology. If you had a shred of integrity and respect for the reputation of TNR, you’d also submit your resignation. It’s obvious that you waited until the last possible moment to retract Beauchamp’s stories, only doing so now because the new TNR book on Election 08’s just come out. However, regardless of your blame-the-messenger retraction, the Beauchamp affair is still going to hammer your book’s credibility along with that of TNR. As it should.
| Posted by George Croft
8 of 72 | warn tnr | respond
The real culprits are your editors and your management. The anti-soldier stories were “just too good to check” and you eagerly went to press with pure garbage from an anonymous, lying, neophyte writer. Don’t dare blame it all on Beauchamp. He just created the garbage. YOU SERVED IT UP. George Croft Argyle, TX
| Posted by Suspended Disbelief
9 of 72 | warn tnr | respond
Congratulations. You’ve reached the conclusion that the rest of us reached months ago. Good luck with the upcoming staff purge and loss of advertisers.
Flashback: Just wanted to remind you of Foer’s pathetic attempt to “control the story” as exposed in the Army transcripts leaked in October. It’s all about the CYA at TNR:
Patterico: “I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the fallout. In fact, I think it may be just beginning.”
And watch for reax from Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard, who started the ball rolling and endured much abuse from the TNRites and the nutroots for calling B.S. and tapping open-source intelligence in the blogosphere–especially among milbloggers–to expose the lies, distortions, and attempted cover-up.
Scott Johnson at Power Line dubs TNR’s evasion and blame avoidance “The Fog of Foer.”
Dan Riehl notes Foer’s snitty ad hominem on Matt Sanchez.
Q&O: TNR pulls the eject handle
Karl at Protein Wisdom rips Foer for continued lack of disclosure:
Foer complains about leaks from the Army, but further fails to inform TNR’s readers of the results of the Army’s official investigation, which found, for example, that Beauchamp admitted he did not witness the targeting of dogs and saw only animal bones near Combat Outpost Ellis (except to imply that Beauchamp was coerced into the latter, though even TNR’s version carefully leaves open the more likely possibility that it was only animal bones).
Foer now admits that having Beauchamp’s wife, Elspeth Reed, fact-checking one of his stories was a conflict of interest, but he fails to note that Foer himself injected her plea for Beauchamp to stand by his stories into a September phone call between TNR editors and Beauchamp – which reads much more like pressuring Beauchamp than any of Foer’s innuendo about the Army – even while admitting doing so put him in an “awkward” position. And while Foer reassures TNR readers there are new policies in place to prevent this in the future, he does not mention that Reeve is apparently no longer in the employ of TNR.
Foer also engages throughout in addressing the suspect stories in a disjointed, fragmented narrative, which allows him to avoid having to account for what Beauchamp actually wrote. For example, Foer never states whether TNR has any confidence at all that Beauchamp saw a “Saddam-era dumping ground,” though even TNR’s prior statements on the case suggest that they know it was not.
Of course, at this point, no one had any reason to believe that TNR would be any more straightforward in its modified limited hang-out than it was in its Potemkin re-reporting or its initial publication of the Private’s fables. The only real surprise was that they did even this much, rather than remaining in their bunker, hoping memories of the smears they published would fade. Had Foer chosen to be more open and honest with its readership — even at this late date – I could have offered more than the sound of one hand clapping.