August 13, 2007

AGITPROP GONE WILD:

A Scott Beauchamp Update (The Editors, 8/10/07, TNR Online)

For several weeks now, questions have been raised about Scott Beauchamp's Baghdad Diarist "Shock Troops." While many of these questions have been formulated by people with ideological agendas, we recognize that there are legitimate concerns about journalistic accuracy. We at The New Republic take these concerns extremely seriously. This is why we have sought to re-report the story, in the process speaking with five soldiers in Beauchamp's company who substantiate the events described in Beauchamp's essay.

Indeed, we continue to investigate the anecdotes recounted in the Baghdad Diarist. Unfortunately, our efforts have been severely hampered by the U.S. Army. Although the Army says it has investigated Beauchamp's article and has found it to be false, it has refused our--and others'--requests to share any information or evidence from its investigation. What's more, the Army has rejected our requests to speak to Beauchamp himself, on the grounds that it wants "to protect his privacy."


The guy, who's married to one of their staffers, won't even talk to them but they're still standing by the story and calling those who exposed it ideologues? Way to take responsibility...

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2007 2:38 PM
Comments

What's more, the Army has rejected our requests to speak to Beauchamp himself, on the grounds that it wants "to protect his privacy."

The Army's response:

We are not preventing him from speaking to TNR or anyone. He has full access to the Morale Welfare and Recreation phones that all the other members of the unit are free to use. It is my understanding that he has been informed of the requests to speak to various members of the media, both traditional and non-traditional and has declined. That is his right.

Posted by: Gideon at August 13, 2007 4:21 PM

A friend once got me a subscription to The New Republic and The Nation. This was back when I was clinging desperately to the notion of being "open minded about all political ideas" before I gave up and dove head first into Conservatism. Man, were those magazines dreary! Tiny, hard-to-read type on cheap newsprint and dull, plodding articles - they read like something mimeographed in 1973 by wild-eyed college Marxists.
There's no real point to that anecdote except to say that I wouldn't wish reading TNR on my worst enemy.

Posted by: Bryan at August 13, 2007 5:03 PM

"The guy, who's married to one of their staffers, ..."

Beauchamp is married to a TNR staffer? I missed that in all the reporting on this tempest.

Posted by: Mike L at August 13, 2007 6:34 PM

Bryan:

When I was in college I used to peruse periodicals in the library and it didn't take long before I noticed a pattern: The further to the left you were, the less enjoyable your publication was to read. I thought at first this was just my biased outlook but, since this pattern constantly repeated itself, I came to believe it was otherwise.

Put the Weekly Standard next to the Nation and tell me which one looks like a good read and which one looks like math homework.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 13, 2007 7:11 PM

Bryan:

Which reminds me that OJ once posted an article by a Leftist that made essentially the same point.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 13, 2007 7:16 PM

He came to THE NEW REPUBLIC's attention through Elspeth Reeve, a TNR reporter-researcher, whom he later married.

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w070730&s=editorial080207

Posted by: oj at August 13, 2007 7:27 PM

You guys can't really be just now realizing that All Comedy is Conservative?

Posted by: oj at August 13, 2007 7:29 PM

The question is, what happens when Marty Peretz returns from vacation. A career-shaping decision awaits him.

Posted by: ghostcat at August 13, 2007 8:08 PM

It has moved from agitprop into the theatre of the absurd.

If TNR wants to keep any semblance of respect, Reeves and Foer have to go - publicly. Plus, the rag will have to apologize to the Army, and to all the military everywhere.

I'd say it's about a 1% possibility. But perhaps TNR could hire Mary Mapes and the NBC Dateline team to test drive a Bradley. On camera, of course. With real dogs.

Or they could hire Bill Burkett to 'produce the woman'. From Iraq, er, Kuwait, er, somewhere.

I wish I could be so free in my writing at work. I wouldn't ever worry about any technical review, and the pressure of quality and a deadline would just melt away.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 13, 2007 8:32 PM

jim hamlen:

They'll continue to deny in the face of overwhelming evidence and the whole matter will settle down and be forgotten. They can't admit fault, nobody would ever listen to them again regarding anything whatsoever.

The way to save face with their liberal readers is to keep hammering the ideological angle so people can say, with an air of reason, that there are two sides to the story. It's obvious garbage but hey, their jobs are on the line.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 14, 2007 2:50 AM

I would enjoy reading the TNR justification if Beauchamp himself publicly recants.

"We published the diary because it represented the feelings, hopes, and fears of a typical American soldier, tortured as they are in 2007. Whether the events happened exactly as described or not is of no consequence - he was there and he has the life experience to speak, and we are compelled to share it with you, our faithful readers. And we will never yield in our mission to provide you with the military story in Iraq. The nation must know the tragedy of broken innocence."

Of course, I counter with this - "I know Franklin Foer, just like I know Lucy Ramirez and just like I knew little Jimmy, the 8 year-old heroin addict. He embodied our dreams, broken as they were in the dark days of 1981. I remember his sad eyes, living among the powerful. I knew Alger Hiss, too - and let me assure you of his faithfulness to the country he loved. His eloquent dignity while under attack from the right-wing smear machine proved his purity for all time."

TNR is cooked. "The Onion" could have written a better diary than Beauchamp did. And you can bet they would have mentioned the love angle with the home-office girl.

Posted by: ratbert at August 14, 2007 7:40 AM
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