August 24, 2007

The New Republic, Tom Cruise, and Post Turtles

"Help me, Help you."
Photo from

Dear "The Editors,"

I noticed with some bemusement earlier this week Jonathan Chait's attempt to rally the TNR faithful by attacking William Kristol, and note that Jonathan Cohn returned to that theme once again yesterday afternoon, with the slight exception of focusing on Ramesh Ponnuru's criticism of Chait's rant. I find it fascinating that you have the time to dedicate to critiques of critiques, but I'd really rather prefer that you just did your jobs as editors.

It has been precisely two weeks since your last attempt to whistle past those "legitimate questions that have been raised" about Scott Thomas Beauchamp's articles. It has been even more troubling that you have stone-walled those who have asked legitimate questions about your own investigation, which is far from transparent.

As Scott Johnson notes at Powerline this morning, Fridays seem to be a big day for TNR editors when it comes to releasing Beauchamp investigation-related news.

Towards that end, and knowing it is a little late, I'd still like to offer up my services to help you with your investigation.

You see, it doesn't often take very long to conduct a legitimate investigation into matters such as these.

For example, once I was finally able to reach Doug Coffey at BAE Systems, the company that manufacturers the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles that you refused to identify, it took only one email to determine that you didn't provide him with Beauchamp's dog-killing story to review for plausibility. I did, and his same-day response... well, we know how that ended up, don't we? It seems your researcher "re-reporting" the story just didn't know quite which questions to ask.

I seem to have a knack for knowing what to ask, so if you would be so kind, please provide the names of the civilian experts you claim to have interviewed during the course of your re-reporting, and I'll be happy to take a few minutes out of my day to make sure that you asked them the right questions, or for that matter, determine if you even asked the right experts the right questions.

Doing a thorough, transparent, and competent investigation doesn't take weeks.

Of course, that assumes that you want a thorough, transparent, and competent investigation.

* * *

Like you, dear readers, I find it rather doubtful that The New Republic will provide me or anyone else with the names of their civilian experts.

As details leak out, it seems Franklin Foer and his collaborators have become the cliché, and their continuing attempts to cover-up their editorial failures with even more questionable ethical violations and purposeful deceptions is worst than Beauchamp's fabulism. At this point, Franklin Foer and TNR's senior editors aren't so much editors as they are post turtles.

What's a post turtle? I recall an email where a doctor asked that same question when an old farmer whose hand he had been suturing used the term.

The farmer replied:

"When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."

"You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the dumb thing get down."

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 24, 2007 10:38 AM


Perhaps they're still on vacation?

Or are they on next year's vacation a little early?

Posted by: memomachine at August 24, 2007 11:25 AM

It seems that their damage control policy is two pronged:

1. Ignore the allegations, and hope people lose interest.

2. Attack the Weekly Standard to rally their "base."

Posted by: Steven at August 24, 2007 11:49 AM

Too funny. Lengthy excerpt from Cohn's defense of Chait's attack on Kristol:

"Over at National Review yesterday, Ramesh Ponnuru--a conservative I respect and enjoy reading--criticized Jonathan Chait's column on Bill Kristol. In particular, Ramesh said, Jon has unfairly seized upon a particular passage in Kristol's recent editorial about liberals and the troops. It's the passage where Kristol wrote:

Having turned against a war that some of them supported, the left is now turning against the troops they claim still to support. They sense that history is progressing away from them--that these soldiers, fighting courageously in a just cause, could still win the war, that they are proud of their service, and that they will be future leaders of this country.
Ponnuru acknowledged that this is "an overheated and unfair statement," but went on to suggest that "Perhaps Jonathan Chait has made overheated and unfair statements from time to time? I don't think it would be reasonable to take one of those statements and use it to create a theory of his essential thuggishness."

Well, sure. Jon has made overheated and unfair statements from time to time. So have I. So has everybody. But this wasn't just a throw-away line. It was the premise of the whole article. That is why, I imagine, it appeared under the headline "THEY DON'T REALLY SUPPORT THE TROOPS.""

Yes, it sure sucks when the ENTIRE PREMISE of your fable comes back to bite you, doesn't it, Jonathans?

Posted by: mrobvious at August 24, 2007 01:59 PM

We should take that turtle off his post and cook him for dinner. Mmmmm...Turtle soup!

Posted by: T.Ferg at August 24, 2007 03:39 PM

It's a shame that TNR has come to such an inglorious end. Peretz, Beinart, and Sullivan all produced quality journalism in their time--certainly nothing like the pathetic caricature it's been reduced to under Foer. On the other hand, Peretz is still around--what has he to say, I wonder?

Posted by: Nathan Tabor at August 24, 2007 04:33 PM

What part of "Scott Beauchamp burned us and we fell for it" do you not understand, Frank?

Posted by: Pablo at August 24, 2007 08:36 PM

I am writing five of The New Republic's seven advertisers - VISA, General Motors, British Petroleum, Ford, and Allstate - to ask if they want their good name associated with a magazine that smeared our troops. Whether the false reports were unintentional (incompetence) or deliberate (slander), is it worth paying to support these acts to reach a shrinking audience of 60,000 subscribers? (Copy to your board of directors.)

Looking at a copy of TNR, it is a high cost production periodical - 50 glossy pages - yet subscriptions only gross $1.54 for mail and $1.15 for online customers. The news stand price is $4.95, but I am probably the only person who has ever bought one.

By focusing on the declining subscriber base and the outrageous mendacity contained in Baghdad Diarist, we may cause advertisers to rethink their patronage of TNR.

Posted by: arch at August 26, 2007 02:41 PM

The turtle must be mocked while it is on the fence post.

Then you can have mocked turtle soup.

Posted by: M. Simon at August 27, 2007 06:48 AM