Franklin Foer, the publisher who stuck with the faux Baghdad diarist Army PVT Scott Beauchamp, even after numerous rebuttals from military and former military personnel detailed the flaws in his wild assed stories, finally surfaced long enough to “recant”.
For those who don’t remember the debacle, this is a brief synopsis:
The New Republic published what it called “dispatches” from a Soldier in Iraq by the name of “Scott Thomas”. The column, entitled “Shock Troops”, described a litany of deplorable behavior on the part of some Soldiers in his unit.
Among his claims: he witnessed them insulting a disfigured woman in a mess hall who “wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn’t really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor”, a Private who used a child’s skull as a play toy, and a Bradley driver who used stray dogs as speed bumps.
A good number of active duty Soldiers and veterans have refuted these fantastic tales, pointing out discrepancies, including no such presence of a disfigured woman anywhere on the base, and the improbability of what a Bradley driver is capable of.
The New Republic tapdanced around the source of the information saying only that the Soldier is located at Forward Operating Base Falcon, and that they were conducting there own investigation. This is like putting a fox in charge of a henhouse.
Here’s all the links to the background story, and updates on my blog:
Well after four months of denials, changing their story, “checking facts” (something they didn’t do beforehand), and venting blame at the Army, Franklin Foer wrote a 14 page dissertation chock full of lame excuses and just plain bullshit. Through this entire sordid, pathetic episode, TNR’s mantra has been:
“The answer is simple: Since this controversy began, The New Republic’s sole objective has been to uncover the truth.
The truth is , they’re still full of shit. After 14 pages of rambling incoherently ‘we tried to give him the benefit of the doubt’, the Army is mean, etc., Foer’s explanation comes down to this:
In retrospect, we never should have put Beauchamp in this situation. He was a young Soldier in a war zone, an untried writer without journalistic training. We published his accounts of sensitive events while granting him the shield of anonymity–which, in the wrong hands, can become license to exaggerate, if not fabricate.
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.
For a side-splitting, hit the nail on the head parody of Foer’s disjointed, long-winded blame-athon, check out Iowahawk’s webpage. What ever you do, put down your coffee before reading. Keyboards can be expensive.
“Misty Watercolor Memories, of the Fog of War”:
TNR was told repeatedly of Beauchamp’s fabrications. Many military and former military personnel such as myself, pointed out his lack of credibility numerous times, and the response from TNR was to sidestep responsibility and blame the Army. His slanderous, feckless statements were a disgrace to his fellow Soldiers and created a distraction that his unit did not need.
Who, in their right fucking mind makes up the kind of trash contained in the “Shock Troops” screed?
More importantly, the fact that TNR was so willing to publish it, indicates a serious lack of integrity.
I said this before and it bears reiteration:
The New Republic saw a chance to print an anti-military/anti-American/anti-war smear piece, and ended up getting hoisted by their own petard.
As for PVT Beauchamp, I don’t know what kind of “future” his Commander has in store for him, but it should be a Courts Martial, if not an expedited discharge.