August 21, 2007

FRANKLIN FOER'S GLASS JAW:

How The New Republic Got Suckered: An inside look at scandal and the perils of publishing what one insider calls a “sociopath.” (Richard Miniter, 8/20/07, Pajamas Media)

The Monday after the party, at the magazine’s offices, Foer was locked in a long serious conversation with Leon Wieseltier, the bear-shaped intellectual who has run the magazine’s literary section with distinction since 1983. They were talking about Beauchamp. Foer couldn’t understand why anyone would just make things up.

Wieseltier did. “Maybe he [Beauchamp] is a sociopath.”

As new details about Beauchamp’s strange private life emerged, Wieseltier’s initial assessment would prove to be on target. Wieseltier did not return phone calls regarding the incident.

Meanwhile, a floor below Foer and Wieseltier, McGee was about to make a controversial and momentous decision, which would soon cost him his job.

He had just learned that Elspeth Reeve (a reporter-researcher at the magazine) had a husband who was somehow involved.

He decided to post anonymously to three different blogs—discardedlies.com, Little Green Footballs, and Ace of Spaces (www.ace.mu.nu) –that the accused fabricator was married to a New Republic staffer.

“I avoided using Reeve’s name, referring to her only as a “TNR staffer.” Also, I initially said that ‘the staffer’s husband is either ‘Scott Thomas’ himself, or possibly one of the soldiers who is corroborating the claims in the article.’ (I didn’t phrase it that way out of coyness; I simply didn’t know for sure how Ellie’s husband was involved.)”

What he did not know: Reeve is a fact-checker for the magazine. Did Reeve fact-check her husband’s articles? So far, The New Republic has not publicly addressed that question.

McGee’s leaks would continue as he learned more. On July 25, “I first leaked Ellie’s [Elspeth Reeve’s] name late Wednesday evening, in a private email to the guy who runs the Ace of Spades.”

At roughly the same time, unknown to McGee, the magazine was busy trying to find who was leaking this damaging information. It wouldn’t take them long.

By the time Reeve’s name appeared on the Ace of Spades blog on Thursday, 26 July, The New Republic published a letter from Scott Thomas Beauchamp, revealing his real name and defending his work. Beauchamp did not admit his wife worked at the magazine and neither did The New Republic, at that point.

But McGee’s posts were not the magazine’s only worry. “I wasn’t a source for the Weekly Standard,” he says dryly.

The conservative weekly had launched its own investigation.


Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2007 1:41 PM
Comments

"Foer couldn’t understand why anyone would just make things up."

Nonsense. He just didn't want to believe that this particular story was made up.

Posted by: b at August 21, 2007 1:53 PM

I think The New Republic was gullible at best and more likely an enthuasiastic partner in a particularly nasty smear. Nonetheless, I am uncomfortable with certain aspects of this article. Portions of it scarcely rise above gossip.

Posted by: Earl Sutherland at August 21, 2007 2:52 PM

Another blog quoted Frank Foer today as saying that TNR influences the influential. Is he saying they can sway the fools in D.C.?

He also said that Michael Kinsley has the best BS detector of anyone he knows. I wonder what Kinsley thinks of Foer's ooze.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 21, 2007 5:36 PM

"Foer couldn’t understand why anyone would just make things up."

Ha! What's that line from Ruthless People?
"This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the earth."

Posted by: Bryan at August 21, 2007 6:05 PM

Except the gossip gives one insight into how The New Republic works got into this self-inflicted mess in the first place. (Via a combination of hubris and intellectual incest.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 21, 2007 6:26 PM

Franklin Foer is a media Hoer.

Hooah.

All best,

Ed

Posted by: Ed Bush at August 21, 2007 9:10 PM

Ed - good one. And we all remember what Dorothy Parker said about Hoers.

I'm sure Foer thought the "diaries" were a clever way to posture the TNR's view (his view) of the military. It isn't so much that the articles (or the magazine) is anti-war or anti-Bush, but that they sneer at the entire American military, in that special urbane Boston/Manhattan/D.C. way.

Poor Elspeth.

P.S. - if a movie is made about this mess, I hope Andrew reviews it as enthusiastically as he did "Shattered Glass".

Posted by: ratbert at August 21, 2007 11:35 PM

Tolkien: "Oft evil will doth evil mar."

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 22, 2007 8:08 PM
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