October 27, 2007

I'm Sorry... Was That Supposed to be Journalism?

There are so many fact errors, hinted slurs and innuendoes piled into Tim Rutten's "Drudge, New Republic battle over 'Baghdad Diarist,' that reading it, you would think you were reading the L.A. Times... oh wait.

You were.

Without fisking every line, here is why Tim Rutten should never be mistaken for a journalist.

He described the ridicule of a disfigured Iraqi woman, attempts to run over stray dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles...

The burned woman has never be described as being an Iraqi... Rutten is the first. Nor were the claims in the Bradley stories described as mere attempt; there were three successful and grisly killings alleged by the author.

The magazine determined that the incident involving the disfigured woman was concocted and corrected that...

No, the editors of TNR did not admit that anecdote was "concocted." They shifted the story to another time, in another country, but still maintain that it occurred.

The Army's investigators refused to release details of their findings...

Under federal privacy laws, the details of administrative cases cannot be released without Beauchamp's permission. He has not yet authorized this release.

Since then, Beauchamp has remained in Iraq with his unit and the magazine has been unable to communicate with him.

Beauchamp has use of his personal cell phone and laptop computer, landline telephone, and may arrange formal interviews with any news outlet that wants to speak to him through the PAO system. He has made the choice not to talk to them, at TNR's explicit request.

Both the New Republic -- still unable to determine whether its story was true or false...

The editors of the New Republic have purposefully suppressed testimony provided them from many sources, suppressed the identities of the experts they've interviewed (military and civilian) to keep others from conducting follow-up interviews, and misled experts and misused their statements to create a whitewash of an investigation. They have only done so because they have been able to determine that they cannot support these stories honestly, and because they cannot support their previous claims that these stories and previous stories by this author had been throughly fact-checked prior to publication.

Far more interesting was the fact that within several hours, Drudge had, without explanation, removed the "exclusive" from his website. The item still can be found in the report's archives, but links to the documents have been disabled. No notice or explanation is appended to the archived item.


It's a fascinating question, but in the orgy of pro-war Internet comment that surged through the blogosphere, no one bothered to ask in any serious way why Drudge might have dropped an item of this consequence so quickly.

The Drudge Report, by design, adds, reorders, and removes stories after several hours and has done it this way for roughly a decade. To imply that a normal cycling of stories is evidence of some admission of wrongdoing is either ignorant, or purposefully dishonest. Further, considering the size of the documents (2.21 MB, 2.73 MB, 2.89 MB, respectively) and the amount of traffic the site normally receives, bandwidth considerations were the far more obvious reasons these files were removed as the story cycled off the front page.

There are questions to be asked, though you won't see them in the pro-war blogosphere:

* Who leaked the documents to Drudge and why, among all the documents the Army must have collected in this case, was one of them a transcript that could be used to put Foer and Scoblic in a bad light?

It is rather obvious who leaked the documents, at least in general terms, which contrary to Rutten’s ignorance, was published in a widely-read and linked article on September October 25 and on other blogs. The documents came from the military, though most likely outside those directly involved. A reading of the transcript shows what many consider strong-arm attempts by Foer and Scoblic not to retract his story, on at least one occasion alluding the the author's wife, who worked at The New Republic.

* Why did Drudge take the documents down and why hasn't he explained his reasons for doing so?

Answered above, with common sense and normal procedure.

* Why has the Army kept Beauchamp in Iraq where it can control access to him and he's beyond the reach of any other jurisdiction?

Beauchamp is a soldier assigned to a combat unit in Iraq, and Beauchamp chose to remain with his unit in Iraq when given the option of leaving the Army.

* Why hasn't the Army complied with the New Republic's FOI request?

We can start with the fact that The New Republic, by their own statements, did not do the rudimentary legwork necessary to file their FOIA request with the necessary FOIA office in the beginning, creating unnecessary delays.

Once filed with the proper office, FOIA requests to overseas combat zones have documents compiled, transmitted back to the United States, undergo legal review, and then are released, if it is deemed that the material asked for can be released. Depending on the information they have asked for, it is quite possible that releasing some or all of the information they seem most interested in may violate Beauchamp's privacy rights.

Not that Rutten bothered to interview anyone in the CENTCOM FOIA office, or ask TNR about the nature of the information they requested.

Who knew the Army was awash in such compassion?

Al Anbar province, for starters, but current events don't seem to be Rutten's strongpoint, either.

Why the attempt to shift attention off the alleged fabulist, Beauchamp, and onto the editors of the magazine, who after initially supporting the invasion, have turned decisively against the war?

A solider who lied in a series of stories and who has been punished for those lies is a minor story once he drops out of the public spotlight; a national magazine editors attempting to orchestrate a cover-up, smear critics, and then attempts to play the victim card? That's news.

Not that Tim Rutten is capable of finding any. There is a reason he writes for the L.A. Times.

He's not a capable enough journalist to hack it in the blogosphere.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 27, 2007 11:25 PM

Tim Rutten must be angling for Dan Rather's job.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 27, 2007 11:32 PM


... "published in a widely-read and linked article on September 25"

I think you mean 'October 25'.


Good job, as usual.

Posted by: Justacanuck at October 28, 2007 12:05 AM

Agree with all except that the bandwidth stuff is speculation.

Posted by: TCO at October 28, 2007 01:40 AM

I've wondered why Drudge would pull that link like he did. I don't know how his site works though, don't go there very often. I was following the story fairly closely and it did strike me as odd that he pulled the docs so quickly.


You have to wonder what Foer etal are thinking at this point. Surely they know that there can be no end to this that doesn't make them look worse and worse. The phone call transcript makes them look outright scummy. And there are 60 some odd pages yet to come?

I mean, how hard would it be to put out a statement that "We thought this was true, but now we think some of it might have been fictitious. We're sorry."?

Too hard, apparently. The way this is panning out though Foer really is going to end up losing his job I'd guess, because like Dan Rather he's going to obfuscate and deny to the end.

And for what? For a story that in the end really means nothing. Captain Ahab and his whale.

Posted by: DaveW at October 28, 2007 06:24 AM

My nomination for best comment of the day (its still early though) on this subject from Winds of Change:

Isn't it sort of disappointing that one has to spend this much time telling journalists, and journalist's most ardent supporters, why it is important that journalists don't lie?


Posted by: DaveW at October 28, 2007 06:35 AM

Why does Rutten think that Drudge's pulling the PDFs is of primary importance? The reason is either as Bob Owens suggests, or it's something else. Either way, TNR admits the documents are genuine, thus they are relevant to TNR's continuing cover-up. If Rutten thinks that's a story worth reporting...


Has he displayed a similar uninterest in cover-ups when the naughty parties didn't share his politics and guild affiliations?

Posted by: AMac at October 28, 2007 07:48 AM

What is "the pro war blogosphere?" I suppose that means we should start calling the L.A. Times "al Qaeda's paper of choice"

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at October 28, 2007 08:18 AM

Thanks for the post. I had actually started drafting a response of my own to this horrendous article. You did a much better job and saved me the effort.

The intellectual dishonesty of the left is staggering. Deep down they know it and it must bother them. However, the end justifies the means, I guess. They'll whatever it takes to win politically. Even undermining the war effort.

If things continue to improve in Iraq the DNC is toast in '08. How pathetic is that? To be so invested in your own country losing a war that if it wins its bad for you politically. Its repugnant. The Dems will pay at the ballot box for this. They have to to....

Posted by: Tom Baker at October 28, 2007 08:43 AM

Mr. Baker, I must respectfully disagree.

The left knows that they are intellectually dishonest, but it does not bother them. The truth, to them, is of no moment so long as they are the ones in power. This has been a hallmark of the left all the way back to Lenin and Stalin.

That is why they are not worthy of being trusted with the power they so covet.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 28, 2007 09:02 AM

I suggest filing a FOIA request to obtain a copy of TNR's FOIA request.

Posted by: anon at October 28, 2007 10:14 AM

Ruttan himself says....

"the New Republic -- still unable to determine whether its story was true or false..."

This kind of ends the discussion right there does it not? Given the nature of the allegations, any news organization that is "unable to determine whether its story was true or false" is obligated to assume they are false until further proven, and to say so quite cleary. All the rest is interesting, but utterly meaningless.

Posted by: Andrew X at October 28, 2007 10:20 AM

This is reminiscent of the Left's attempts to shift the burden of proof away from CBS during Rathergate.

First, the accusation presented as fact and which depends solely on eyewitness accounts or documentary evidence (the Memo). Second, the impeachment of the witness or documents by the blogs (MSWord Font on typewriter). Finally, the shifting of the burden of proof away from the original accusers and onto the blogs who are supposed to prove that the original accusation could not have happened (the $10,000 military typrewriter).

Don't fall for it. It may be fun to tease them, but it's TNR's responsibility to support its story -- it will have no incentive to do so if the focus is shifted away to the Army or Drudge or the blogs.

Posted by: capitano at October 28, 2007 10:32 AM

I wish that I would have seen your post before I made mine. Coulda just linked over here.

When I saw the Drudge article I copied it and warned everybody to go there quickly before it went away. Just did not expect it to go away that quickly.

I doubt that PV1 Beauchamp's lawyer leaked the documents. I am guessing that PV1 Beauchamp did it himself, as soon as he got his hands on them, and sent them to Drudge, rather than the lawyer at the FORMER employer of his wife.

Posted by: Guy Montag at October 28, 2007 11:10 AM

These so-called "Journalists" are half-men of a Dante-ian 10th Circle. You may or may not know that Dante's 9th Circle(in Hell/Inferno)was particularly reserved to arch-traitors of History~Judas(for betraying his Lord and friend Christ);and Brutus and Cassius(for betraying their friend;leader and Commander who forgave them
...spared their lives...for opposing him in the Pompian/Senate-Caesarian Civil War.Dante suffered these men the "honor" of being eternally devoured in the mouth of Lucifer at the center of Dis/Hell.A 10th Circle(proposed by yours truly)is (under)the SEAT of Satan. Why? PM metro/
half-men(whom C.S.Lewis called "men without chests")merit neither condign scorn of real men nor the BEAST himself.Consign them (as Romans of SPQR;or The Church's Judgment Angels to the truest "poena damni": FORGET THEM.
Arthur F. McVarish, Houston

Posted by: Arthur McVarish at October 28, 2007 02:33 PM

"Without fisking every line, here is why Tim Rutten should never be mistaken for a journalist."

And then CY goes on to prove it beyond a shadow of doubt.

A superb effort on your part, Bob. Only one quibble -- the Army has released details on their findings, just not documentation relating to those details.

I wouldn't have mentioned that quibble but I'd hazard a conservative guess that 50% of what the MSM publishes as "details" is based on the same definition of details as the "details" the Army has provided thus far on this subject.

Posted by: Dusty at October 28, 2007 03:23 PM

Administrative punishment is not public record, as is a court-martial. Leaking article 15 findings, letter of reprimand, or other record of adminstrative action would constitute a breach of privacy and is punishable under the UCMJ.

It is possible that Beauchamp himself (or his legal counsel) leaked the documents (as mentioned above). Don't know what purpose that could serve, other than to let the world know that neither he nor the Army is attempting to hide anything.

Posted by: Googootz at October 28, 2007 05:57 PM

Rutten's actually pretty sharp, and fair, on some issues. But I read the Rutten piece, and he missed the boat on that one! (The problem's not a TNR, right?!!)

Posted by: Americaneocon at October 28, 2007 06:01 PM

Rutten's a tool and getting duller by the day.

Posted by: vanderleun at October 28, 2007 10:06 PM

Contrary to popular opinion, very few people are aware of this story outside of the blogosphere. It has and will continue to go nowhere.

Posted by: Yankee Stuck in the South at October 29, 2007 08:19 AM

The LATimes is shedding circulation and advertising nearly as fast as the NYTimes. So that problem will take care of itself.

Posted by: Banjo at October 29, 2007 08:31 AM

Quick, someone call Mickey Kaus! We now have confirmation that *two* people read the LAT.

Posted by: Patrick Carroll at October 29, 2007 08:39 AM

Uh... Mr. Stuck Yankee... didn't you read the article? This story was just covered--albeit very shoddily--in a large metropolitan newspaper. So while people may not have been aware of it before, many more are now, and if other leftymedia outlets start trying to defend TNR, that will just increase exposure.

Therefore, while your statement might have been true last month, or even last week, it's becoming less and less true with each passing day and with each leftymedia defense of this travesty of journalism.

Good day, I say, good day, Sir.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 29, 2007 08:40 AM

I have read so much garbage from Timothy Rotten that I was not surprised nor disappointed. It's good that this typical L.A. Slimes columnist gets a good public Fisking

Posted by: Gerry at October 29, 2007 10:07 AM

BTW, I should get credit for exposing this story (as corona) - check out Michelle Malkin's site

Posted by: corona at October 29, 2007 10:11 AM


As the Brits would say, you are spot on.

There are four advertizers that could cause TNR to shut down. Visa, Allstate, Ford & GM.

Consider all the VISA card holding service members and their families who could switch to Master Card. We all get offers weekly. VISA took out a two page print ad. If they bolt, Foer will find himself looking at a major layoff. Certainly, the print business would fold.

Allstate Corporation is the largest insurance provider in the South, a region with very pro defense leanings. They bought the back cover.

General Motors & Ford Motor Company. Not only is the US DoD a major customer of these two auto giants, lots of service members and their families buy their cars.

BP (Now "Beyond Petroleum") will not intervene. The British public do not support the war and do not care about their own soldiers, much less ours.

The NYTimes wishes they had found Beauchamp themselves. The History channel is (or was until recently) owned by the grey lady.

Hoover is at Standford. They won't help and neither would Harvard.

If we focus on the key vulnerabilities of TNR - these four companies - we stand the best chance of succeeding.

A word of warning. Avoid unsubstantiated charges such as saying the Foer "knew" Scott was a fake. TNR has lawyers at the ready. It's better to ask the question, "Was TNR sloppy in their editing and factfinding or was it done deliberately?" Basically pose the question are they stupid or lying and stupid?

Some key language, "Do you want your good name and brand associated with the admittedly false story?" Mention that TNR's 60,000 circulation is down 100,000 in 2001.

One last suggestion. Sign your letter and provide a return address. Management will not take unsigned complaints seriously.


Posted by: Arch at October 29, 2007 02:14 PM

If anyone wants the four CEO names and addresses, I have them on an excel spreadsheet.


Posted by: arch at October 29, 2007 02:25 PM

Excellent points, however, as a long-time Drudge consumer, I have NEVER seen him pull a story this quickly, especially one that involves dogging other media. Something is definitely fishy or at least interesting about that aspect. Bandwidth argument is not persuasive to this layman, having seen massive posts requiring much more bandwidth stay up for days. Further light should be shone on this aspect.

thanks for your great work.
Bruce Stubblefield

Posted by: Bruce Stubblefield at October 29, 2007 02:26 PM

Re: Drudge documents

Come on. Cut him some slack. Everyone knows that the LA Times keeps every fron page story that has ever run in their newspaper right their front page forever. When last measured the front page of the LA Times was approximately the size of Nevada.

Posted by: John Steele at October 29, 2007 05:50 PM

Quick question: Did Beauchamp describe the dog killings with Bradly's or with Strikers? I thought Strikers but I could be wrong and am too tired to search myself.

Posted by: Ayatrollah at October 29, 2007 06:42 PM

He's not a capable enough journalist to hack it in the blogosphere.


Posted by: Vercingetorix at October 29, 2007 06:53 PM

Under the circumstances, I'm not sure why everyone is so upset that government employees pretended to be journalists at a FEMA news conference last week.

Apparently some people at the L.A. Times -- and many other media outlets, for that matter -- do it every day.

Posted by: jblog at October 29, 2007 07:28 PM

Drudge still has the link to the docs and story at his website here:

Posted by: carlc at October 29, 2007 07:51 PM

Bradleys, Ayatrollah, Bradleys.

In fact, that was one of the fishy details. Scotty claimed the Bradley swerved *right* to hit the dog. According to the active MilGuys, that put the pooch squarely in its blind spot. Plus, any decent doggy can easily outmaneuver a Bradley (heck, even this former 76P (supply clerk) knows that).

Posted by: PSGInfinity at October 29, 2007 07:52 PM

Yet another good fisking, and well done, CY!

Posted by: Karridine at October 29, 2007 08:02 PM

Just a guess, but my thoughts as to why Drudge pulled the docs and removed the entire story was that the leaker asked him to, because it caused more heat than the leaker had anticipated and might get him (the leaker) into trouble.

But, that's just a guess I had at the time. The bandwidth thing about the pdf's is plausible, but why did he pull the entire story? Sure, he cycles stuff, but usually it goes down the page and new stuff is stacked on top.

He rarely pulls a story completely off the page, especially one with a "special" dedicated page, which only goes up for Drudge exclusives, usually.

Note that the "special" page is still online, just that Drudge removed all his own links to it.

Curiouser and curiouser. Does Drudge ever answer email? Maybe someone should just ask him.

Posted by: docweasel at October 29, 2007 08:59 PM

Let's wait to see Rutten's point-by-point rebuttal before passing judgment.

Posted by: be fair at October 29, 2007 10:23 PM

Be Fair, is that coming out on the 32nd of next month, or the 33rd?

Posted by: C-C-G at October 29, 2007 10:32 PM

Andrew X says:
Ruttan himself says....

"the New Republic -- still unable to determine whether its story was true or false..."

This kind of ends the discussion right there does it not? Given the nature of the allegations, any news organization that is "unable to determine whether its story was true or false" is obligated to assume they are false until further proven, and to say so quite cleary. All the rest is interesting, but utterly meaningless.

Its called Mapes Law: if a news item is of indeterminate origin, and is of value to the leftist "narrative", it should be considered true unless proven false.

Posted by: docweasel at October 30, 2007 12:57 AM


The Fisk is strong in this one.

Posted by: Ray Robison at October 30, 2007 01:03 AM


The Fisk is strong in this one.

Posted by: Ray Robison at October 30, 2007 01:04 AM

Tom Baker [Dr. Who?]:The intellectual dishonesty of the left is staggering. Deep down they know it and it must bother them.

I don't agree; I've agonized over this question, but I think that deep down, liberals really don't know that they're embracing gargantuan stupidities, hypocrises, et cetera. I approach it as a matter of psychology-- as far as I can figure it, liberalism is inherently a refusal to accept the pain of moving into maturity, specifically, the understanding that the entire world is not about "me" and what "I" think/feel/etc.

About Drudge doing the peek-a-boo, I think that it's weird... but that's all it is: weird. It doesn't prove or disprove anything about those documents' bona fides any more than the moon turning purple. Someday we may find out why that happened, and chances are, it will have nothing to do with the hypotheses so far submitted.

Posted by: zeppenwolf at October 30, 2007 01:37 AM

I can't help but wonder what the TNR editors would have done had the diaries been submitted with positive stories about the war, the military and the mission. Would they have double fact checked that or just spiked the story?

Posted by: Richard Palmer at October 30, 2007 02:16 AM

ok, I had to do this.

Just in time for Halloween:
New maxims for the LameStreamMedia: Mape’s Law and Beauchamping

Posted by: docweasel at October 30, 2007 03:09 AM


Pronounced: Bo-"sham"-ing.

I likes.

Posted by: mcgurk at October 30, 2007 09:10 AM

Just one minor nitpick before I agree with you - and I do agree with you 99.9+%. But:

"... why Tim Rutten should never be mistaken for a journalist."

Actually, he's not a journalist, not anymore, and not if you define "journalist" as "reporter". He's a columnist; there's a difference. Journalists are paid to report; columnists are paid to write opinion pieces. So it's inaccurate to judge him by reporting standards because he's an opinion-piece writer now, not a journalist.

That said, given that he's writing opnion pieces, it does behoove him to
1. Base his opinions on facts, and
2. Be accurate.

.. and Rutten does fail miserably on both counts. Mr. Owens here is correct in all his criticisms above, save the labeling of an opinion columnist as a journalist (Yes, I know that Rutten self-identifies as one. That's insufficient in my book: He can claim it all he wants, but he's not achieving it). But that's a minor error that doesn't distract from the thrust of Mr. Owen's post here, which is that there are severe errors in Rutten's work. Regardless of whether he's a reporter or an opinion writer, Mr. Rutten is guilty of poor writing and researching, which is quite simply unprofessional behavior. That column should not stand uncorrected by the LAT for any reason.

Posted by: E.M.H. at October 30, 2007 01:12 PM

From the Drudgereport archives:
"Matt Drudge does not own, operate or maintain the He is not responsible for it in anyway."

I think Drudge owes an explanation as to why he pulled his own scoop. I don't buy the Bandwidth Beast excuse.

Posted by: viktor at October 31, 2007 01:11 PM