August 07, 2007

Suddenly Shrinking Sources

The editors of The New Republic seem to be sticking to their story... just quite a bit less of it:

We've talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account as detailed in our statement. When we called Army spokesman Major Steven F. Lamb and asked about an anonymously sourced allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, he told us, "I have no knowledge of that." He added, "If someone is speaking anonymously [to The Weekly Standard], they are on their own." When we pressed Lamb for details on the Army investigation, he told us, "We don't go into the details of how we conduct our investigations."

Just five days ago, TNR editors claimed far more support for Beauchamp's stories, stating that they spoke to all sorts of experts—none that they would cite by name or position, but they assured us they were experts all the same—in addition to the soldiers they interviewed, and of course, Beauchamp.

They seem to have dropped their experts, Beauchamp, and claims of fact-checking before publication, all of which were murky at best, and deceitful at worst.

Now, they seem to hang their ever-less-descriptive claims on an unknown number of "military personnel."

Showing poor-form, TNR editors seem to be laying the framework to claim that they could have proven their contentions, gosh-darn it, if that mean old military would just let them dig into the military investigation, Beauchamp's personnel records be damned.

Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps.

If you're going to stick to your guns, make sure they don't fire square-backed bullets.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 7, 2007 02:32 PM


Great work on this story. FYI... one of my commenters says that TNR has pulled "Shock Troops" from the web.

Just wanted you to know.


Posted by: Bruce (GayPatriot) at August 7, 2007 02:42 PM

Excellent work on this whole story Bob, from the time TNR first published their garbage right on up to today. I added a link to this post to my
2007.08.07 Long War // Dhimm Perfidy Roundup.

Posted by: Bill Faith at August 7, 2007 03:12 PM

I really don't understand what all the fuss is about here. So if Beauchamp did in fact fabricate these stories and they were printed in the pro-war TNR, this proves exactly what? Some kind of media conspiracy to undermine the war effort? Why would a publication that actively supports the war subvert its own editorial stance? Maybe sometimes a soldier with a dark and overactive imagination, and a loose grip on journalistic ethics is simply a a soldier with a dark and overactive imagination, and a loose grip on journalistic ethics.

Posted by: pinson at August 7, 2007 03:18 PM

"When we called Army spokesman Major Steven F. Lamb and asked about an anonymously sourced allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, he told us, 'I have no knowledge of that.'" -- TNR, The Plank; 08.07.07 @ 2:32 PM

Did TNR also happen to ask about the named source who said:

"An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims."


According to The Weekly Standard, the Major Steven F. Lamb they spoke to said that. I think he might have provided those details on the Army investigation, if TNR had asked!

Posted by: Dusty at August 7, 2007 03:21 PM

Anyone know where we can still get complete copies of the Shock Troop stories w/o subscriptions? Or is that a no-no?

It could be that TNR is choosing to use older quotes in an attempt to purposefully not have to respond to breaking developments that... er... break their story.

Posted by: at August 7, 2007 03:24 PM


I guess you haven't read TNR for about 3 years. They're not pro-war. In fact, they've got a subscription crisis on their hands precisely because they *used* to be pro-war and have always been pro-Democrat, but the Democratic party has cast aside its hawks (Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman).

So TNR's base was always unstable, given that the Iraq war was from the beginning associated with the Bush administration, and basically disintegrated.

Consider that Jon Chait was the leading hawk at TNR, and also the editor who confessed to "loathing" GWB.

Hence your question is based on a false premise.

Posted by: DJ at August 7, 2007 03:24 PM

[Bruce (GayPatriot) at August 7, 2007 02:42 PM]

It appears it is unaccessible via their site search engine, but it is still there, if, for instance, you go to The Plank announcement and click on the link. (I wasn't able to find it by search as late as an hour ago, but could access it via the link at The Plank.)

They have again released it from behind their subscriber wall, too.

Posted by: Dusty at August 7, 2007 03:26 PM

pinson, The New Republic was "pro-war" under it's previous editor, Peter Beiart. Stating that it has been "pro-war" under Foer's leadership is simply dishonest.

The problem here isn't just that Beauchamp has a problem with journalistic ethics (Was was not, and now probably never will be a journalist); evidence abounds that the current editors at TNR did not fact check the articles prior to publication, and that TNR editors did not reveal at least two claims that refuted their storyline that are well known.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at August 7, 2007 03:28 PM

[ at August 7, 2007 03:24 PM]

It's here:

Posted by: Dusty at August 7, 2007 03:55 PM


I don't care if TNR is pro-war, anti-war, or maintains absolute neutrality. I care about whether or not I can be reasonably certain that the information they publish is accurate, and that they will promptly correct any small errors that slip past the editors. If they didn't bother to do basic fact checking on this story, should I expect them to do basic fact checking on a story about education reform, healthcare reform, immigration, campaign finance reform, or anything else? Probably not.

Posted by: JeanE at August 7, 2007 04:21 PM

If I am reading this right, TNR is saying that their critics have 'no corroborating' evidence to back up their claims.

That was the problem that everyone else in their sane mind had when they first ran their 'hitler diaries'.

Posted by: paul at August 7, 2007 04:25 PM

So now the characteristic response from the left is that the right has made too much of the Beauchamp scandal.

(1) I doubt that nearly as much fuss would have been made had TNR and the left not gone into total stonewall/counterattack mode, acceding ground only inch by inch and only when forced.

(2) I'm against journalists making vicious material up and well-known publishers publishing it without accountability, no matter what side they are on.

These points should be obvious and commonsensical but TNR and the left just seem blind.

Posted by: huxley at August 7, 2007 04:39 PM

What none of you seem to understand is that the left feels that since they "mean well", they are above the normal moral guidelines the rest of us have to follow, and for which they crucify us if we transgress.

Remember, it's only hypocrisy if you actually feel bound by the rules. If you instead feel you deserve your own special set of rules, that's not hypocrisy. That is pure delusion.

Posted by: sherlock at August 7, 2007 05:06 PM

Man, those 'military personnel' get around, don't they?

Posted by: at August 7, 2007 05:06 PM

TNR seems to be saying (or maybe just implying) that their anonymous sources are better than The Weekly Standard's anonymous sources. I used to say things like this too, when I was about 5 or 6. Given that both sets of sources are anonymous, how are mere citizens supposed to figure this out? I am getting tired of anonymous sources. I would like a new kind of journalism for a change. Like, you know, having someone knowledgeable and experienced in Iraq who can track these things down by going directly to the non-anonymous source and then telling us what he learns. But what do I know? I don't understand the journalism business; I work for a living.

Posted by: Mike at August 7, 2007 07:23 PM

Well, if you're gonna fire your guns, first, don't form a circle.

Guns are only effective if you know how to take aim. And, then you also know something about "recoil."

What TNR didn't know, however, before this began, is that the Net could overpower them. And, send this story OUT over the airwaves, in ways they just don't have available "in house."

while, at the same time, SHATTERED GLASS has opened.

It's as if, for TNR, this is their summer of the "two-fer."

They did it because they thought they'd bring inflence down on the Pulitzer Prize Committee.

Posted by: Carol Herman at August 7, 2007 09:50 PM

Part of the problem is that Pvt Beauchamp has received "administrative punishment" (presumably under UCMJ article 15). Adminstrative punishment is not a court martial which, like a civilian trial, is public. Had the Army proceeded with a court martial, then specific charges, each with specifications, would be part of the public record. At least, everyone would know exactly what parts of Beauchamp's stories are refuted. As it is, the adminstrative action will be part of Beauchamp's personnel record, and will be accessible only through a SF-180 request in the future (which means we'll never know what Beauchamp recanted on). TNR will continue to stand by their version of events, because it will be impossible to conclusively refute it, short of Pvt Beauchamp taking it upon himself to make a full public disclosure.

Posted by: Paulie Goombah at August 8, 2007 05:59 AM

Doc? Doc?


Posted by: y7 at August 8, 2007 06:27 AM