The AP, of all organizations, gets a bit rough (as they should) with The New Republic over the Scott Thomas Beauchamp fictional storytelling. The AP! The same organization that will print anything that comes out of the mouth of a Iraqi police officer, as long as its super-duper violent.
But I have to give them a hand here, when its another organization doing the bad fact checking they will take the gloves off:
A magazine gets a hot story straight from a soldier in Iraq and publishes his writing, complete with gory details, under a pseudonym. The stories are chilling: An Iraqi boy befriends American troops and later has his tongue cut out by insurgents. Soldiers mock a disfigured woman sitting near them in a dining hall. As a diversion, soldiers run over dogs with armored personnel carriers. Compelling stuff, and, according to the Army, not true…
The Army said this week it had concluded an investigation of Beauchamp’s claims and found them false.
“During that investigation, all the soldiers from his unit refuted all claims that Pvt. Beauchamp made in his blog,” Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview.
The Weekly Standard said Beauchamp signed a sworn statement admitting all three articles were exaggerations and falsehoods…
Calls to Editor Franklin Foer at The New Republic in Washington were not returned, but the magazine said on its Web site that it has conducted its own investigation and stands by Beauchamp’s work.
Not returned? What happened Frank, you were quite happy to attack those who were making allegations before and now you won’t return calls back to the AP? Hmmmmm.
Bob Steele, the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at The Poynter Institute school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla., said granting a writer anonymity “raises questions about authenticity and legitimacy.”
“Anonymity allows an individual to make accusations against others with impunity,” Steele said. “In this case, the anonymous diarist was accusing other soldiers of various levels of wrongdoing that were, at the least, moral failures, if not violations of military conduct. The anonymity further allows the writer to sidestep essential accountability that would exist, were he identified.”
Steele said he was troubled by the fact that the magazine did not catch the scene-shifting from Kuwait to Iraq of the incident Beauchamp described involving the disfigured woman.
“If they were doing any kind of fact-checking, with multiple sources, that error _ or potential deception _ would have emerged,” Steele said.
He added that he was also troubled by the relationship between Beauchamp and Reeve, his wife, who works at The New Republic. “It raises the possible specter of competing loyalties, which could undermine the credibility of the journalism,” he said.
Paul McLeary, a staff writer for Columbia Journalism Review who has written about the matter, said The New Republic failed to do some basic journalistic legwork, such as calling the public affairs officer for Beauchamp’s unit.
“There is a degree of trust and faith editors have to put in their writers,” McLeary said. “If you’re on a tight deadline, you have to go as far as you can. The New Republic definitely didn’t go as far as it could in terms of checking out its stories.”
Ace wrote a long post last night where he takes apart the supposed eyewitnesses and comes to the conclusion that we have one eyewitness who corroborates all of Scott’s stories. Very interesting post.
The only good thing to come out of this kerfuffle is that people now understand that the MSM cannot be trusted. It started with the Jamil episode, but of course the AP produced a man who denied being their source with a totally different name, and that all got fixed somehow. With this story there appears to no way to dig their way out of the hole they dug. They trusted a source because he was in Iraq and because he was married to a staffer. That’s it. They didn’t do any fact checking, except for maybe that one guy that Ace alludes to, and then went to print. I believe it’s because the story fit their view of the war so well.
Bloodthirsty robots sent by the United States to kill kill kill.
But I think we all know whats going to happen here. TNR and Scott will both STFU for awhile, Scott will eventually get discharged, as a Private I’m sure, and then he will say that his confession was coerced as he was beaten with paperclips. TNR will then claim vindication and they have the high road with their compadres once again.