December 03, 2007

But They're Only The Rabble: Ignore Them

Franklin Foer may be telling the truth when he said "no one at TNR has asked him to" resign. Because smart employees rarely tell their bosses such things, of course.

Commenters to his 14-page non-apology were a bit less restrained:

Posted by Chris Christner 7 of 420 | warn tnr | respond You broke every rule of journalism and in the process slandered our military. At the very least you owe them an apology. If you had a shred of integrity and respect for the reputation of TNR, you'd also submit your resignation. It's obvious that you waited until the last possible moment to retract Beauchamp's stories, only doing so now because the new TNR book on Election 08's just come out. However, regardless of your blame-the-messenger retraction, the Beauchamp affair is still going to hammer your book's credibility along with that of TNR. As it should.


Posted by Hey, Pierre Salinger!
25 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Franklin Foer, your petulant whine about the bad ol' Army and the stressed-out Beauchamp are less than believable. You were had because you WANTED to be had. Get over your self-pity and resign, already.


Posted by slp
32 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Franklin: It is time to resign.


Posted by tdneeley
56 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
I always suspected Beauchamp's stories were crap. I've already canceled my subscription, after 13 or 14 years. Anyone involved in this debacle should do the honorable thing and resign. You people have very nearly destroyed a great magazine, one I enjoyed reading back when Foer and company were going to keggers and sleeping through Journalism 101. What a disgrace. Goodbye.


Posted by redherkey
60 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Franklin, While your efforts to explain this certainly must have taken considerable energy, it does not address the fundamental issue which allowed this myth to be published: the lack of management controls enforcing organizational policy and adherence to both company and journalistic codes of conduct. As a competent manager would explain, the outcome you experienced is what is expected when organizational controls are ignored. This is the default condition to which management is empowered to correct. We do not have spouses or even parties related through means other than the job conducting reviews, fact-checking, etc. We do not verify anonymous sources with other anonymous ones. In fact, anonymous sources are never primary sources except in shady journalism due to the inherent uncontrolled abuse it facilitates. We maintain higher tests when accusations are more significant. Having attempted to effect an outcome that damages national security and disparages the U.S. Army, a very high standard is required. Instead, TNR's efforts would not suffice at a junior high school newspaper. This is a management failure, not a complex trickery of a confused young man. Given the track record of TNR, this is also an institutional failure. TNR simply does not have controls sufficient to produce credible, objective non-fiction publications and does not appear capable of self-reform. Should you and the editorial staff and senior management of the publication seek to provide TNR with an opportunity to continue, resignation is the only appropriate action. CanWest should either clean house and refocus this damaged brand or terminate it and write it off as a lesson in corporate governance and oversight.


Posted by Cody B
68 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
"The Plank The smartest blog on the web. Period." No dude, you were busted by many, many blogs who are much smarter than you and don't have an agenda. You should resign right after you apologize to our brave men and women serving our country.


75 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
FOER: Well, it depends on what the word "LIE" means!! Can you imagine how much time this little dweeb has spent the last month trying to write this? How NIXONIAN. Tricky Dick never weaseled around more. Notice how the libs, when caught in their own morass slither around just like Tricky Dick. Foer - just remember when people look at you now - they are thinking - "There goes that guy that swallowed harder and longer than Monica ever did." Like one other poster said, it couldn't happen to a nicer, more arrogant bastardi. RESIGN NOW.


Posted by C. Pruett
78 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
To borrow and paraphrase: Let us not assassinate these lads further, Mr. Foer You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? Obfuscatory tripe. Check. Refusal to accept responsibility. Check. Failure to sincerely apologize. Check. Complete lack of integrity. Check. Mr. Foer, an honorable man would resign. Accordingly, I expect you to stay on.


Posted by klfoster
81 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Foer suggests that the Army may be guilty of suppressing Beauchamp through intimidation, thereby holding out the slim hope for himself that one day he and Beauchamp will be cleared of all charges. Foer has not offered an apology. He is as misleading in this regard as the meandering Beauchamp story. The owners of The New Republic have a responsibility to their readers, the public and the Army to make management changes at the magazine to restore its credibility.


Posted by Gerry Shuller
91 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Is there an ounce of integrity left at TNR? Of course, Foer and other have to go, but more importantly, the next issue of TRN must not only feature an abject apology, but have POSITIVE stories about the American military that is fighting Islamo-fascism in Iraq.


Posted by Cato the Elder
99 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Now I see why it took your honest effort so many months to reach a conclusion: it must have taken at least a quarter to come up with and write 14 pages of self-serving garbage. Why is it that a magazine with a history of publishing fakes, lies, forgeries etc. continues to be duped by Q-list fabulists? Do you not learn from your mistakes? Why are the editors of TNR still employed? Take a tip from Howell Raines and go write about your dogs for Field & Stream. This episode shames Franklin Foer, CanWest and a once great magazine. In a better world Mr. Foer would open his stomach immediately after issuing a straightforward correction. Mr. Foer's demonstrated lack of honor precludes his taking that honorable step and Carthage must be destroyed.


Posted by Jim C
110 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
You all should be ashamed of yourselves. You slandered our military, lied to your readers about experts that supposedly corroberated Beauchamp's story, and now you have the nerve to pull the "hey, he pulled the wool over our eyes too" card? I hope canwest gets rid of every last one of you. Jim C


Posted by fmfnavydoc
122 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
As a member of the military, your apology, Mr. Foer, isn't worth the damn paper it's written on. You and your magazine violated every rule of journalistic and even personal integrity by publishing Scott Thomas Beuachamp's tripe - you have become the latest poster child for "journalistic integrity" - right up there with Dan Rather, CNN and the others that have used the media to spew their vitriol against those that they see as being "inferior" or not holding the same viewpoint. 14 pages to tell the world "we screwed up" - that has to be a record, especially for a journalist. Your actions brought TNR to the level of a gossip mag, or better yet, to a level lower than that seen at a junior high school student paper. Mr. Foer, you need to do the following: 1. Say the following phrase, "I screwed up"... 2. Submit your resignation, effective immediately. 3. Find employment elsewhere - like a fast food restaurant.


osted by Thom Walker
153 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Agreed. Resign. Better yet, fold TNR. It's time she died, and newer breaths were heard.Even if - and it's a big IF - 75% of Beauchamp's stories turn out by some miracle to be true... or even 'fact-based'... it doesn't excuse this shoddy attempt at journalism, and it absolutely does not excuse this multi-page non-apology. (I can't remember the last time a public figure even offered a GENUINE apology, vs a "Gosh, I'm sorry if YOU were offended" snake-in-the-grass escape from self-ownership of an issue - and sadly, this article is lower than the average snake's belly.) Thank the great American military - by their amazing self-sacrifice, you're free to publish this tripe anytime you want. Just please, from now on, file it under pulp fiction. Better yet, don't bother.


Posted by Richard
159 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
This is absolute garbage. Come clean, Franklin, and then fall on your sword. Confession is good for the soul. Admit you made an egregious set of editing errors and compounded them by initially standing by your story, and then stonewalling for months. And then do the only honorable thing you've done since this started, and resign. Thank you, by the way, for the $6.00 check you sent, refunding the remainder of my subscription.


Posted by Takekaze
168 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
When I read those "stories" the first time my reaction was "What the hell?" My brain was screaming "BS alarm!" Let me explain why. I'm not American, but I have served in my country's military for 8 years. I held a rank equivalent to either Staff Sergeant or Master Sergeant (I always mix them up). I was a tankie. When I read about M2 Brads running over dogs as if it was the easiset thing in the world, I was wondering how the hell one would achieve that. Agreed, we don't have Bradleys, but we do have APCs and I seriously doubt that even our best drivers can run over a dog like this (I know my driver can't do it). When I read about "Mandrake's Bride", my only conclusion was: this story is crap. I know that no NCO or officer would allow such behavior in the mess tent. I would bite off my soldiers' heads for something like that. I would make them regret such behavior. As for the pieces of skull on the head. Oh please, such stories come up all the time and they are usually never true. Oldest propaganda. Apart from that, any NCO or officer would stop it right away. In my eight years of service (four active, four in reserves) I had to deal with US troops a few times. They were usually Marines. And, judging from those men and women, I would, without hesitation, put my hand into the fire for their integrity and honor, because I know they would NEVER behave in the ways described in those ridiculous stories. Now, the way I see it, you, the editors, owe the US military and it's men and women an apology. I think you should fly to Iraq, travel from base to base and apologize to every soldier, every marine, every airman, every sailor, every tankie, every grunt, every pilot, every medic, every driver, every NCO, every officer you meet there and then thank them for their hard work in Iraq and A-stan and for protecting your right of slandering them... I mean, your right of free speech, oh those evil typos. You also owe the American public an apology for lying to them.


G. Lutz
174 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
To me, the "re-reporting" and quasi retraction of these stories smack of the same mistakes made in the Killian documents debacle. The editors at TNR decided to print the Beauchamp stories with no serious regard to their veracity simply because they fit into their political milieu and it's narrow minded view of the war in Iraq, and the conduct of the American soldiers fighting that war. Further, your report and retraction of the stories, much like the Dan Rather retraction, appears to state that while the articles in question may not be accurate, you still stand by the basic premise of the stories themselves, thus exposing a base partisanship and lack of journalist integrity at TNR. I am disgusted and saddened by the half hearted retraction, and the utter lack of an apology to the men and women of the United States armed forces. TNR just confirmed all the horrible things it is accused of by the "right-wing" blogosphere. When reporting on weighty issues with such far reaching implications one must take extraordinary diligence to ascertain the veracity of any and all claims made. TNR obviously did not do this, as allowing the new wife of the author to fact check the pieces clearly shows. The lack of professionalism with which TNR has conducted itself throughout this lengthy affair is astounding. One can only hope that it leads to some major changes in personnel in your organization.


Posted by Roy Mustang
175 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
Mr. Foer has proven that is not trustworthy enough to hold his current position. This 15 page intelluctually dishonest editoral only serves to highlight this fact. If TNR ever wants to regain the public's trust, it needs to start with the removal of Mr. Foer.


Posted by JPLodine
227 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
For Chrissake, resign already.


Posted by Shyron M. Beavers
238 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
As a veteran your I am infuriated that your obvious lies and pure hate for America and the POTUS, this yellow journalism put our fighting men in harms way and the support troops. Next time just say we lied, I'm sorry, and I resign!


Posted by Steve
246 of 420 | warn tnr | respond
What a convoluted way of saying, "We lied to you." Remember when people used to be noble and just resign when they majorly screwed up? How can anyone ever believe another word printed by your magazine? It's time to clean house or close down.

That is just halfway into the comments section, but I got tired of cutting and pasting. There were also quite a few comments from former TNR subscribers—and future former TNR subscribers—in the comments, but I didn't attempt an accounting.

Ultimately, it will be Canwest that does that... via advertiser feedback, of course. In the end, I'll be surprised if Mr. Foer's wild ride won't end up costing Canwest millions.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 3, 2007 10:49 PM

Very interesting comments from the TNR readers and subscribers. I continue to wonder, however, if even this kind of a reaction will have an impact on Foer and TNR.

I can't help noting that many on the liberal side of the blogosphere are marshalling a defense of TNR. For example, The Atlantic magazine and a couple of their bloggers have taken up a full-throated defense of TNR, mostly via attacks on NRO. Their most immature little blogger, Matthew Yglesias has written a particularly nasty piece of bile, including this sentence: "To me, though, it seems like rank hypocrisy for NRO to hold a particular writer out to dry like this -- Smith was just working to the long-established NRO standards." Needless to say, he has other nasty things to add.

And of course the blogosphere's own crazy old aunt in the attic, Andrew Sullivan, has generated at least ten separate posts on the emerging NRO/Smith story over the past couple of days, which he parses in a manner to make TNR look like the ultimate paragon of disciplined and accurate reporting. The utter hypocrisy is staggering given the regularity with which these Atlantic bloggers publish rank falsehoods encased in the most inflammatory language possible, and almost never ever provide a correction when called to account. Sullivan has become notorious for his ability to write a faux "correction" in such a manner that 99.99% of the readers would have not the slightest idea that it was even supposed to represent a "correction."

I wonder how much longer David G. Bradley (and his National Journal Group, which I believe still owns The Atlantic) will keep in his employ such potential Franklin Foers and Stephen Glasses.

Posted by: Terry at December 3, 2007 11:52 PM

I actually read upwards of 270 of the posts to the TNR 'appology' last night. I tried to count the number of TNR supporters while discarding those that simply wanted the forum closed to non-subscribers.

Of those 270 posts, I counted about 4.5 supporters of TNR and FF. The .5 comes from one that excoriated FF but still thought TNR was a good rag (rag is my word).

There was one post in those first 270 comments that said something like "how Nixonian". What I find humorous about that comment is ..


wait for it



Nixion resigned.

Posted by: Mark at December 4, 2007 12:09 AM

Yes, I need to go to bed...

That should be:

Nixon resigned

Posted by: Mark at December 4, 2007 12:12 AM

Amongst his windy non-apology apology, Franklin Foer utters this line:

"I hadn't worked with Stephen Glass, who made up stories out of whole cloth, but I knew the lessons derived from that scandal."

No, Mr. Foer you haven't learned any of the lessons from l'affaire Glass. We could certainly school you for days on just how much you failed to absorb, but instead, let's just address the lengthy screed you have chosen to utter instead of the concise and up front apology that was required. We now turn to Gawker for this lesson:

Foer ought to have taken a page from the Chuck Lane School of Apologia. In 1998, when addressing TNR readers in the wake of the Stephen Glass scandal, the magazine's 500-word piece concluded simply: "We offer no excuses for any of this. Only our deepest apologies to all concerned."

What's that Franklin? No, I'm sorry, there will be no do-over for you. You had four and a half months, which is four months longer than any ethical editor would have taken when their primary interest is in protecting the credibility of their publication.

Having now affirmed your utter incompetence by way of this last act of trashing any viable brand name equity left in TNR, it wouldn't be unreasonable now to expect a CanWest operative to visit your office to deliver the final coup de grāce to your once promising career.

Posted by: Justacanuck at December 4, 2007 02:19 AM

Resign? No! A thousand times, no! This guy has a lot more to endure before the pain ends.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at December 4, 2007 09:06 AM


Andrew Sullivan.

Sometimes I wonder if he's on something stronger than alcohol.

Posted by: memomachine at December 4, 2007 11:06 AM

My guess is that Canwest is insisting that TNR keep the comments on the nonapology open in order to gauge the reaction. They are certainly getting an eyeful there as well as elsewhere around the blogosphere. As Bob says, it isn't over yet.

Posted by: daleyrocks at December 4, 2007 02:02 PM

daleyrocks: I believe when TNR launched their new website/blog (recently), they simultaneously opened up comments to non-members. Perhaps done as an experiment, or perhaps to be more blog-like. Either way, Foer can't be too happy with the weight of opinion from his own subscribers, former subscribers, or soon-to-be former subscribers.

I especially enjoy those who tell of receiving their refund checks from TNR for the balance of their subscriptions. That's a nasty sting on TNR, cubed.

Posted by: Justacanuck at December 4, 2007 04:10 PM