02 Dec 2007

The New Republic Surrenders (Not With a Very Good Grace, Either)

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TNR served up its articles of surrender to the conservative blogosphere on the Thomas Scott Beauchamp affair in the form of a lengthy, grudging, turgid and self-justifying piece, broken up into 14 pages apparently in order to assure access by only the New Republic’s most persistent and determined critics.

Those who haven’t followed the matter should be advised that Beauchamp supplied the New Republic with a series of articles pandering to liberal expectations of the inevitably corrupting influence of war upon American troops, featuring US soldiers killing dogs, mocking a disfigured female war victim, and looting graves, resulting in one soldier wearing the top of an Iraqi skull as a cap.

Criticism from the Right led the New Republic to undertake attempts at fact-checking to confirm details of the various stories, which attempts were ultimately unsuccessful. Reading TNR’s account, I couldn’t help reflecting that it would have been much more to the point for the New Republic’s editors to have questioned many of their own biases and presuppositions and their basic world view, rather than the trivial details of Beauchamp’s anecdotes. The fundamental problem is really with the former.

The New Republic’s Franklin Foer concludes:

When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.


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