Posted by Curt on 2 December, 2007 at 10:07 am. 4 comments already!

So The New Republic and Franklin Foer finally gets around to responding to all these accusations of breaching journalistic ethics in regards to the Scott Beauchamp stories. 

How do they respond to it?

With a 6,827 word behemoth of a article that spans through 14 pages. 

6,758 words of it are pure garbage.  Garbage written in a pathetic attempt to save his job.  Its only the last paragraph that gets to the crux of the matter:

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.

Why does it take him so long to get to the fact that the stories cannot, nor should they be, stood by?  Because he has to write about the fact that he should never had allowed Scott Beauchamps wife to fact check his stories:

But there was one avoidable problem with our Beauchamp fact-check. His
wife, Reeve, was assigned a large role in checking his third piece.
While we believe she acted with good faith and integrity–not just in
this instance, but throughout this whole ordeal–there was a clear
conflict of interest.

He tells us about a soldier, whom he admits was taken out of Iraq on mental health grounds, who was the basis for the burned woman story.  Foer states the soldier stands by his story but provides no additional evidence.  None of the other soldiers at the base where this supposed burned woman appeared say they saw the lady.

And recall, this lady first appeared in the Scott Beauchamp stories at a Iraqi base, which was changed to a Kuwaiti base after the controversy broke.

Foer writes about receiving anonymous emails, at Scott’s behest, from soldiers that say everything written by Scott was true.   If only the Army wouldn’t be so mean to the soldiers then maybe they could get more details.

Pathetic.

Foer writes that these anonymous soldiers confirm the Bradley story, but as Bob Owens writes, he ignores the Bradley manufacturers themselves:

Foer also does not really respond to remarks by “the spokesman for the manufacturer of Bradley Fighting Vehicles” Choosing his words carefully, Foer states that “Nothing in our conversations with them had dissuaded us of the plausibility of Beauchamp’s pieces.” Foer, of course, said our conversations.

Foer still does not admit that TNR’s questions to Doug Coffey, spokesman of BAE Systems, the Bradley manufacturer, were vague to the point of uselessness. Foer also refuses to release the names of the other anonymous experts, including a forensic anthropologist, he claims support the story. It seems he does not want these experts to discuss the quality of the interviews they conducted.

Throughout the behometh Franklin Foer attacks those who questioned the piece.  He attacks the Army over and over again as being the reason he could not verify the stories by Scott.  From this,

It [the Army] first gave the story of Beauchamp’s supposed fraudulence to a former porn actor turned blogger named Matt Sanchez.

To this,

When Beauchamp had described his statements to us, it seemed like he
was walking a fine line, trying to satisfy his commanders while staying
on the side of the truth.

You see, its all the big bad Army’s fault because they can be so mean.

But what it all comes down to is that The New Republic felt that had the kryptonite to the Iraq war, or as they would call it, the Bush war.  They had some lady in their office, who had a husband in Iraq, who would tell these wild and crazy stories of the brutality of war, ala Oliver Stone’s Platoon, which would portray the war exactly the way they want it portrayed.

They must of been rubbing their hands in glee when they first got his stories.  It’s apparent now that they wanted to believe the stories so much that they did little to no fact checking.  And the fact checking they did do they assigned it to the writers wife.

Franklin Foer never brings himself to apologize for his publications behavior nor their mistakes.  In the end it was everybody’s else’s fault.

And that, my friends, is definition of being a liberal.

UPDATE

Meanwhile a writer at National Review has been caught in some lies of his own, and the difference in responding to the allegations is huge.  Franklin Foer and The New Republic would never admit the stories were false, never admit they made a mistake (until a year later) and instead of praising those who brought these allegations about Scott to their attention Franklin attacked them.

Not the National Review:

Bottom line: NRO strives to bring you reliable analysis
and reporting — whether in presenting articles, essays, or blog posts.
Smith did commendable work in Lebanon earlier this year, as he does
from S.C. where he is based, as he has done from Iraq, where he has
been twice. But rereading some of the posts (see “The Tank” for more
detail) and after doing a thorough investigation of some of the points
made in some of those posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that NRO
should have provided readers with more context and caveats in some
posts from Lebanon this fall. And so I apologize to you, our readers.

I thank Smith for his good, brave work. He’s a smart, reliable
reporter with a great patriotic spirit and sense of service. We owe him
and our readers better — we should have gotten you more context and
information before a post or two went live. It’s understandable how it
happened — the nature of blogging being what it is — but given what an
underreported tinderbox we’re talking about, especially, we owed you
more
. We weren’t blogging about Dancing with the Stars there.

So I’m grateful to the reporter who contacted Smith with questions.
He brought them to my attention. We did due diligence. We’ve reported
this back to him. And now we’re reporting back to you.

Much, much different.  The way a ethical publication should respond.  The National Review didn’t blame anyone else for their mistake, instead they investigated the controversy quickly and put out a message that they screwed up.

I’m hoping Franklin is taking notes.

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