November 27, 2007

TNR's Last Stand?

1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, rotated out of Iraqi several weeks ago to their home base in Schweinfurt, Germany. This included noted fabulist Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Whether Beauchamp is still in Germany or has been allowed home on leave is rather irrelevant; he matters quite little now that he has established that he will not support his dark fantasies on the record.

What does matter is that Franklin Foer and The New Republic have lost yet another excuse in their continued failure to account for the actions of the magazine's editors since "Shock Troops" was first questioned July 18, over four months ago. Now that Beauchamp is out of the war zone and back in western civilization, Foer is unable to claim that he military is muzzling his communication or that of his fellow soldiers.

Rumor has it that Franklin Foer is presently attempting to pen his final justification of the story, and that it will be published in a December editor of the magazine.

Foer's story needs to include only three key elements to be successful, and without these three elements Franklin Foer's career and the integrity of The New Republic is shattered.

What is the name of the fabled woman with the melted face? What was the name of the other soldier in the chow hall that participated in this alleged verbal assault along with Beauchamp against this woman? What is the name of the soldier that wore a fragmented child's skull on his head? What was the name of the Bradley IFV driver who ran over three dogs in one mission?

Will Scott Thomas Beauchamp stand behind his stories on the record, or not?

How does the magazine justify standing behind the central theme of "Shock Troops"—that war made the author into a horrible person—when the magazine itself now claims that the alleged verbal attack took place before the author ever entered combat?

Why has it taken so long for the magazine to mount a defense for an article that the editor claims was fact-checked prior to publication?

Where is the "Saddam-era dumping ground" filled with, "All children's bones: tiny cracked tibias and shoulder blades"?

It All Comes Down to This.

Does The New Republic have the solid factual evidence to support these stories?

Did the editors of The New Republic act unethically by burying collected testimony, deceiving their readers, misleading and hiding expert witnesses, and falsely attacking the military as it conducted a formal investigation?

Franklin Foer's next article on the "Shock Troops" scandal needs to contain names, places, dates, and unimpeachable justifications for unethical behavior that have been sorely lacking in the nearly five months up until this point. If he cannot provide these details, this next article in The New Republic should be his last.

I'm sure TNR's few remaining advertisers will be watching.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 27, 2007 01:08 AM
Does The New Republic have the solid factual evidence to support these stories?

You already know the answer is "no."

However, I do believe they will throw up the mother of all smokescreens to obscure this inconvenient truth.

Hell, Rather is still maintaining those Microsoft Word documents are from a 1970s-era National Guard typewriter.

Posted by: Hoystory at November 27, 2007 01:36 AM

Of course, the TNR can claim that the military is muzzling Beauchamp, just as they can continue to claim that his stories check out.

You're making the mistake of looking at this in some sort of silly fact driven perspective, where 'facts' are established according to objective criteria established by neutral unbiased observers and not, as is the case here, merely subjective and subject to bias and slant and the degree to which they support one's storyline.

The TNR knows they did nothing wrong, their subscribers know they did nothing wrong and all of your efforts at trying to hold them to some antiquated journalistic standards is nothing more than another example of the right trying to stifle the voices of those who speak truth to power.

As Clinton so infamously (sort of) put it, 'it all depends of what the meaning of 'is' is". And to the TNR, 'is' means they're right and you're wrong.

Posted by: steve sturm at November 27, 2007 08:18 AM

Well, it appears that they have convinced some. Andrew Sullivan stands four square behind them he tells any and all that will listen. Apparently, in his view, this whole episode has merely been the result of the right wing attack machine trying to destroy the credibility of the reality-based community of which TNR is now a part.

Posted by: Terry at November 27, 2007 08:40 AM

Foer's only defense is that the articles were "mislabeled" as "non-fiction".

Trying to pass these articles as anything other than fiction is a non-starter.

Posted by: Neo at November 27, 2007 09:39 AM

And the so-called "reality based community" once again demonstrates beyond all doubt that they are really based in fantasy... Scott Beauchamp's fantasies, to be specific.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 27, 2007 09:41 AM

Fake but accurate. Kinda hard to reason with people that are willing to lie about you in order to "win" politically even if you have the facts on your side. I say just give it up and let them and their idiotic readers continue to believe this dribble because obviously they want to so bad. It is like this time I met some douchebag from Sanfran, who when he found out I had been to Iraq asked me if I killed some Iraqi civilians or kids. Funny thing was he was being serious. Instead of punching this idiot in the face (which I should have done) I started acting like I had one accident killed a kid and was horribly upset and had to leave right then because it upset me so much. I did a pretty good acting job if I may say so. I mean the guy wanted to believe we are all murderers, killers, and immoral SOB's so bad why ruin his fantasy. I mean it would have been like telling a little kid there is no Santa Claus. These same people rant against "Corporations", and think about a bunch of white guys in suits that smoke cigars, think about "soldiers" and imagine the evil crew from the movie Platoon. These people honestly live in a fantasy world of their own creation so why ruin it.

Posted by: LiveFromFortLivingRoom at November 27, 2007 09:44 AM

That's just, like, your opinion, man.

Posted by: Brian Jones at November 27, 2007 09:44 AM

"...Franklin Foer is presently attempting to pen his final justification of the story..."

It sounds as if Foer is being given the same preferential treatment that Nebraska's football Coach Callahan received: e.g. as long as you don't have a losing season, you're back next year. Of course, TNR's CanWest owners may just be holding Foer out to get closure and then pull the trigger. Either way, Foer's not capable of winning journalism, cursed with both a basic lack of competence and lacking comprehension of news reporting ethics.

I am particularly surprised that CanWest wishes to push what will ultimately be the termination of much of TNR editorial staff and management into Q1/08, given what they're set up for in their financials. Turn-around, if it is possible at this terminally broken publication, will take considerable time.

Unless 08 is supposed to be a banner blood-letting for CanWest with a large write-off, I'd expect they'd want to get control of this property before it spirals further downward. The reputational damage TNR has suffered alone is significant and in an era of dying dead-tree publications, foolish.

Posted by: redherkey at November 27, 2007 09:49 AM

I knew I'd heard that skull-as-a-hat thing before.

The from the quotes from movie Con Air:

Garland Greene: One girl, I drove through three states wearing her head as a hat.

Posted by: htom at November 27, 2007 10:05 AM

Geez, guys, so far many of your comments seem to suggest we've given up the fight. While I do think it's unrealistic of CY to expect journalistic integrity from TNR, I think we still have to man the barricades, and at least TRY to continue exposing the bogus "reporting" that has become so rampant in recent years. Sooner or later, if enough people stand firm, critical mass will be reached. Don't believe me? Just ask Hollywood how those new anti-war, anti-America films are doing at the box office.

Posted by: Arthur at November 27, 2007 10:06 AM

LiveFromFortLivingRoom: Thank you for your service.

Posted by: C-C-G at November 27, 2007 10:08 AM

Isn't names, dates, & places journalism 101?

Posted by: Barry Dauphin at November 27, 2007 10:21 AM

Not anymore Barry. Journalism 101 is the class on how to deny having a political affiliation while still being to the left on every important social and economic issue of the day. The class is an in depth look at how politics can be denied in journalism but still pushed without being "caught". This class is very hard I heard, I mean obviously it is this Franklin Foer guy and Beachump were caught red handed so obviously they failed that class.

Posted by: LiveFromFortLivingRoom at November 27, 2007 10:45 AM

I have a slightly different slant. TNR used to be an exemplary magazine (and still is in its cultural commentary and criticism). Then Stephan Glass deceived editors who had become sloppy. OK--that's sort of forgiveable, once. But Beauchamp is different--here the editor conspired with the fabulist to distribute propaganda that "fit the narrative." As a reader, my only recourse was to cancel my subscription and lose my favorite film and art criticism. What strikes me is that in the age of internet communication, interactivity, networks, and data-mining, no one at TNR was even the slightest bit curious WHY I was cancelling my subscription. I mean, after 30 years, wouldn't you want to KNOW?

Posted by: Dave Clemens at November 27, 2007 10:56 AM

Jay, HILARIOUS!! and so true. LOL.

Posted by: Maggie45 at November 27, 2007 10:57 AM

I'm afraid that Foer will get his way--which is to throw up a smoke screen and delay until the MSM lose interest. This, actually, has already happened. It is up to the blogosphere to keep it open. But do not expect any mea culpa from TNR. They do not dare admit to being flummoxed by another Stephen Glass. I suspect now that Foer et. al. are hoping (if not ensuring)that Beauchamp continues to keep his trap shut.

Posted by: M.A. George at November 27, 2007 11:05 AM

The alleged baby skull incident has been mentioned again. I have seen babies. I have seen adult males. I have seen adult males wearing hats, from yarmulkes to sombreros. I have noted the difference in size between a baby's head and that of an adult male.

I cannot for the life of me figure out how a man can wear a baby's skull as a hat.

Maybe this question has been hashed over elsewhere but please, am I missing something?

Posted by: Person of Choler at November 27, 2007 11:27 AM

New caption for this photo:

"Archaeologists on the site of 'TNR's Last Stand' examining the remains of Franklin Foer's career."

Posted by: MarkJ at November 27, 2007 11:28 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/27/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...

Posted by: David M at November 27, 2007 11:33 AM

That's just, like, your opinion, man.

STFU Brian, you're out of your element...

Posted by: Dr. Kenneth Noisewater at November 27, 2007 11:36 AM

You are far too optimistic about the outcome. Here's my prediction:

* Foer will issue some weasel-worded statement to the tune of "We have not been given any information to change our original assessment of the story. The U.S. military continues to stonewall on releasing the results of its investigation, and Beauchamp is not free to speak." Foer will keep his job. The departure of lower-ranked TNR employees will not be mentioned.

* Beauchamp will continue his "no comment" policy, and will more or less keep his nose clean while in the Army.

* At some point in the future, Beauchamp will receive an honorable discharge. When he is beyond the Army's reach, he will loudly proclaim that his stories were true, dammit, and that he was being coerced by evil superior officers to keep silent.

* Vast numbers of left-wing true believers will take up his cause, and he will become yet another hero who Speaks Truth to Power. The media will report his drivel without criticism; if they mention the controversy over the TNR articles' veracity at all they will attribute it to "an attack squad of far-right-wing bloggers." Beauchamp will write a book and an op-ed piece for Newsweek.

Just you wait ...

Posted by: Mike G in Corvallis at November 27, 2007 11:38 AM
Does The New Republic have the solid factual evidence to support these stories?
If they had we would have heard it four months ago, loud and clear, so "No".

As for this all being a smoke screen to cover them until the MSM loses interest, when did the MSM have any interest? If it weren't for the good work by CY et al. this would have been forgotten long ago. And you better believe they'll remember you for this.

"Journalistic integrity" is becoming just another oxymoron, which happened about the time that Journalism 101 became subtitled 'Making a Difference in the World'.

Posted by: Swen Swenson at November 27, 2007 11:59 AM

There is no end to the excuse that "the Army is muzzling and/or intimidating Beauchamp." Anyone willing to believe that excuse already believes all the other BS Hollywood military clicés: the military are a bunch of mind-numb kill robots; the military will lie and kill anyone to cover up its mistakes; the military is a monolithic organization that controls every facet of its members' lives; etc.

Posted by: submandave at November 27, 2007 12:13 PM

[Sigh] I'm afraid Mike G is entirely correct. The last thing the Truthers want is the truth and it's the last thing many of today's journalists want to give them. You can bet Foer and TNR are counting the days until Pvt Beauchamp gets his discharge. Then we'll hear The Truth(tm).

Posted by: Swen Swenson at November 27, 2007 12:13 PM

"While I do think it's unrealistic of CY to expect journalistic integrity from TNR, I think we still have to man the barricades"

I concur. People like Foer and Beauchamp are mostly beyond cure, but we're not in this to persuade them; we're in it to keep reminding the general public of what is true and why TNR and others persist in spreading lies and slander.

Posted by: pst314 at November 27, 2007 12:16 PM

Mike G in Corvallis is absolutely on the money.

Thanks for depressing the hell out of me, Mike, but you're dead on.

Posted by: Occam's Beard at November 27, 2007 12:23 PM

That's no reality-based community. They have, instead, a community-based reality.

Posted by: Dr. Ellen at November 27, 2007 01:10 PM

I concur with Mike G also.

There is no reason whatsoever to expect that what finally comes out of Foer's office is anything but a sweeeping-under-the-rug statement about how "the underlying facts of the Bushitler oilwar are true dammit and all you chickenhawks can go to hell."

Posted by: Mike D at November 27, 2007 01:28 PM

The New Republic claims that a soldier or soldiers in Beauchamp's unit supported his stories. I'd like to know the names of these soldiers and what they said specifically about the stories run by TNR. "I heard about a Bradley driver who ran over a dog" is different from saying, "I've witnessed a Bradley driver who deliberately swerves to cut dogs in half and crash into market stalls." Saying, "We dug up some bones" is not the same as saying, "We dug up a children's cemetery and one guy wore a child's skull under his helmet for the rest of the day."

Posted by: Joanne Jacobs at November 27, 2007 01:53 PM

I dunno. Laughing Wolf over at Blackfive met STB in Iraq, and he seems to have changed for the better. Here's hoping he keeps telling TNR to get lost. He sounds more like a dude who screwed up badly.

Posted by: OmegaPaladin at November 27, 2007 01:55 PM

Let us hope and pray that TNR will understand that their foray into Iraq, badly planned with questionable motives, needs to be ended now, and that they will pull out in a dignified, orderly way.

The American people demand it.

Posted by: BMOON at November 27, 2007 02:10 PM

Last time I looked, American journalism is free to pursue stories without swallowing the military line. In other words? The military's version of the Beauchamp affair is not subject to TNR's surrender.

Some day we'll learn more.

Because Maliki hates out guts. Which means we've been in Irak for years and years; and instead of building a strong working relationship with their elected officials, Bush has been on a tear to satisfy the Saud's.

I doubt this will prove to be a winnah.

And, at least TNR didn't fold to the PR machinery of the army.

Takes a bit of reading of the US Constitution to get a handle on this.

PLUS, you could remember John Adams Sedition Act, which attempted to block the media from reporting on the anti-Federalists. Went out the window in 1801. Unfortunately, his son, John Quincy Adams,did not. (But that move took Henry Clay, and tossed the WHIGS, eventually, to leave through the window.)

Posted by: Carol Herman at November 27, 2007 02:13 PM

With regard to Mike G in Corvallis, sad to say that's one possible outcome.

However, I suspect the military is wise to this, and are currently covering the bases on a potential retraction by Pvt. Beauchamp. For each of the stories he's penned, I'm betting there's a thorough, clear investigation that debunks each claim and point. For any claim that he's been muzzled, there's clear documentation of what he's been allowed to say and do, and to whom.

So should he try, after discharge, to claim that it was all true, I'd expect the Army to drop the load on him. While the MSM won't report, Bob Owens will.

Finally, we should remember what Michael Yon wrote about Pvt. Beauchamp: it's possible that the young soldier is trying to reform and do the honorable thing. I'd like him to have that chance, but part of it means being honorable after discharge. We'll see in his actions just whether he's trying to be honorable or not.

Posted by: Steve White at November 27, 2007 02:25 PM

When it's their turn to be written about, media honchos believe that turnabout is NOT fair play. From 1997 by the immortal Catherine Seipp.

"No one is more thin-skinned than the media. No one."


"Members of the press are usually also deeply committed members of the can-dish-it-out-but-can't-take-it club."

Most importantly,

"I'd say Powers won that round, but then the person who has the last word usually does. No one knows this better than the media, who have the last word as a matter of course and are furious whenever someone takes it away. This is regarded as a dastardly violation of professional courtesy."

Keep the pressure on and they'll just keep responding, shedding credibility every step of the way. They just can't help themselves.

Posted by: Looking Glass at November 27, 2007 02:43 PM

Re: Carol Herman's Post

Ugh!! Just an observation: It's amazing how the lefty's blather stands in such stark contrast to the thoughtful statements of the rational commentators.

Posted by: Jake at November 27, 2007 02:44 PM

"Carol? I'm afraid you forgot to take your meds yesterday, dear. You've been on the internet, posing as a lawyer, and a historian, and a gud speler too. Come back to your room, so we can get this taken care of. I promise, you'll feel much better."

Posted by: Nurse Mildred Ratched at November 27, 2007 02:50 PM

Carol, like somebody's lost, deranged aunt, wanders about the internet posting her largely incoherent ramblings and then wanders off again looking for her cats.

Don't forget to vote for Ron Paul, Carol.

You're his demographic.

Posted by: Swede at November 27, 2007 02:52 PM

Does anyone know if this is the same "Carol Herman" who has claimed on another blog or two to be the ex wife of Glenn Greenwald? It sure sounds like it could be since both writers are obviously best.

Posted by: Terry at November 27, 2007 04:35 PM

Steve White: I think you are on target with respect to what will happen if STB tries to recant or otherwise claim that it was true. I also agree with Mike Yon that he is not the point anymore, and that if he is sincere and actively working to try to be a good soldier, that is good. What happens and what he does/makes of himself is entirely up to him -- I hope that he does get his act together and does right and well in life. A good person or a sh**bird is up to him. Omega Palladin, think you are on target too.

The issue was and truly is with TNR, and they need to be held not simply to account, but to their own professed standards of conduct. That is something at which they have failed to date, if they ever did indeed try...

Posted by: Laughing Wolf at November 27, 2007 04:47 PM

I thought Carol's comments were fine, just incorrect on a few bits. I don't want Foer to be jailed under the Alien and Sedition Acts. I want him to admit that he messed up badly and printed as true stories which were poorly disguised urban legends.


Posted by: Wince and Nod at November 27, 2007 05:01 PM

Oh, I dunno. I kind of like Carol Herman's efforts; they have a fine be-damned-to-you flow along her chosen path that I suspect some young commenters feel doesn't give due respect to the form of their own efforts -- which, of course, is the only correct form. Think of the literary Establishment encountering Ulysses for the first time.

Not that I actually agree with her very much, when I can figure out what she said.

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock at November 27, 2007 06:10 PM

Carol, I have a real hard time taking seriously anyone who thinks "Iraq" is spelled with a "k."

If you can learn to use your spellchecker, perhaps we can have a rational discussion.

Good day, ma'am. I said, good day!

Posted by: C-C-G at November 27, 2007 07:22 PM

First, Scott is a stupid kid. Forget about him.

The New Republic is the problem. If you want to help rid the world of TNR's misinformation, contact the CEOs of VISA USA, GM, Ford and Allstate Insurance to ask this question.

"Do you want your brand and good name associated with subsidizing the false message that American troops are committing war crimes?"

The US military is a population of 2.5 million Americans who by cars, insure them and pay their bills on time. They believe that advertizing in TNR is a repudiation of their public service. If you consider reaching TNR's shrinking 60,000 subscribers more important than the US military, continue to buy advertizements in TNR. We will take note.

Posted by: arch at November 27, 2007 08:31 PM

Ah, The Media. Journalism is the last occupation where you can lie, cheat, steal, and ruin people's lives and still have no accountability.

I rank journalists about this far >

Posted by: Faith+1 at November 27, 2007 08:31 PM

By the way... if Franklin Foer is fired, will he come back years later with a lawsuit, a la Dan "Memogate" Rather?

Posted by: C-C-G at November 28, 2007 09:46 AM

Carol, I have a real hard time taking seriously anyone who thinks "Iraq" is spelled with a "k."

But C-C-G, you may not know that in French, the official spelling of Iraq is "Irak". So if you persist in this policy, you'll be unable to take any French person seriously.


Oh. Never mind, carry on.

Posted by: Robin Munn at November 28, 2007 04:30 PM



Posted by: Mark at November 28, 2007 06:33 PM

I don't know about claiming to be Greenwald's ex, but she has been around Captain's Quarters for quite a while being a pest. I never have been able to understand her ramblings. I think the description that fits her best

"Carol, like somebody's lost, deranged aunt, wanders about the internet posting her largely incoherent ramblings and then wanders off again looking for her cats."

That being said... yes the media is free to persue stories without believing "the military's line". However, when the stories are obviously bullsh*t like STB's are you tend to look pretty damned foolish sticking by those stories. But, Carol, good luck with that.

Jim C

Posted by: Jim C at November 28, 2007 07:25 PM

You forgot the most important question that must be answered.

What kind of countertop is in Scott Beauchamp's kitchen!?

Citizen Journalists around the world are intent on finding out.

Posted by: The Other Steve at November 28, 2007 07:30 PM

Darn it, Robin, you revealed my Top Secret Plan To Take Over The World And Hand It Over To The Neocons!

For that, you may never drink Evian water again!

(by the way, has anyone besides me ever noticed that Evian spelled backwards is naive?)

Posted by: C-C-G at November 28, 2007 08:59 PM

What, nothing about this?

Where's our foremost media critic on these charges that the NRO might have, eh "exaggerated" few things? I'll presume good faith, and just assume you're having a busy day what with the Clinton hostage situation and all that.

Posted by: Xanthippas at November 30, 2007 11:53 PM

Gee, Xanthippas, seems to me the author has stated he made mistakes. TNR has admitted to ONE mistake and then stuck by the revised version of the 'melted woman'. Not even to mention the fact STB had not been in theatre before the revised claim which completely blows the "war turned me into a savage" meme.


Posted by: Mark at December 1, 2007 02:41 AM

Hmm, I dunno... perhaps I've had better things to do than see what somewhat as intellectually dishonest as Kevin Drum thinks is newsworthy?

It appears that Smith has copped to his exaggerations, and so the editors of NRO must decide how severe they think those exaggerations are. Are they a firing offense? I think that argument could be made. I think a suspension is certainly warranted at the least.

As this seems to occurred just yesterday, I'm willing to give the magazine a reasonable amount of time--say several days--to figure out what they want to do.

For any of TNR's leftist apologists to attack Smith is the height of hypocritical behavior.

Of course, that is what they do best.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at December 1, 2007 02:05 PM


Color me unsurprised that you are not rushing to cover this story. Yes, the guy copped to a few exaggerations, and yes the NRO has commented on that fact, though their conclusion is merely "that NRO should have provided readers with more context and caveats in some posts from Lebanon this fall." I'm not sure what context you can provide, when at least two other journalists writing from Lebanon thinks that Smith's stories are fabrications and cheerleading (see Kevin's blog for an update and link if you desire.)

But is there nothing to write about in the fact that that a journalist with a slight right-wing bias appears to be making up stories? And that he apparently was going to go on not clearing up inconsistencies in those stories until someone confronted him on them? That treatment seems a little odd to me, given your willingness to write about such incidents of bias as media outlets publishing photos of bullets that haven't been fired. Is the only story really how NRO decides to handle this? And do you accept their statements at face value, as you were not at all willing to do with TNR?

Posted by: Xanthippas at December 2, 2007 12:36 AM

Xanthippas, if you haven't been perfectly blind, I've been a little busy.

Fraklin Foer is falling like Icarus, retracting the Beauchamp stories without accepting responsibility and blaming everyone else. Since I'm one of the folks that kind of "owns" that story, that is understandably my focus, and I can't do everything at once.

I am quite flattered, however, that with 70 million or so other bloggers, you seem to need me to comment, as does John Cole, the folks at Sadly No!, etc.

Listen, I'm not capable of being the human conscious of the blogosphere, flitting around to right every single wrong.

I'm just one guy, a guy with a full-time job and a family and other commitments, writing for several sites, and I can only do so much at once. I missed watching a movie on television with my kid to get out what I did yesterday, so if you don't like what I got out, do it your damned self.

I am not ignoring this story and will be commenting on it when I have time to get up to speed on it, but I'm tired of leftists attempting to threadjack every story I've posted this weekend, and a bit disappointed you aren't adult enough to do things without adult supervision.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at December 2, 2007 07:05 AM