Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The First Admitted Error By TNR; UPDATED And Bumped!

The New Republic has issued a statement with a discrepancy in Scot Thomas Beauchamp's piece "Shock Troops." Stephen Spruiell @ NRO's The Corner has the details:

TNR's editors on an "error" in Scott Thomas Beauchamp's controversial essay:

The recollections of these three soldiers differ from Beauchamp's on one significant detail (the only fact in the piece that we have determined to be inaccurate): They say the conversation [in which he and a fellow soldier mock a disfigured woman] occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit's arrival in Iraq. When presented with this important discrepancy, Beauchamp acknowledged his error. We sincerely regret this mistake. [emphasis added]

That's a rather significant detail to flub, given that the author's intent was to illustrate the morally deadening effects of war.

Indeed it is a significant mistake. It also shows people that TNR was not as thorough as they claimed to have been in vetting, corroborating, and checking Private Beauchamp's story. Additionally, this throws the piece completely into question because it stands to reason that that particular part was fabricated (please remember that he claimed the incident occurred at FOB Falcon in Iraq), then the veracity of his claims should not be completely suspect. Furthermore, there should be some checking about the incident at Camp Buehring to see if it really occurred at all.

Critics can say what they wish about those in the blogosphere trying to find out what exactly happened, and whether or not Private Beauchamp lied or embellished his story. It is more likely that he did embellish the story beyond what actually happened. But that is for the military to decide at this point as he is under investigation.

However, based on TNR's own admission that they screwed up their fact-checking job simply tells readers that Franklin Foer's original statement about having done a comprehensive and extensive check on the story was not true. they were sloppy. This has happened int he media before, and it will continue to go on because they are, in essence, lazy in their reporting. They hope they do not get caught in a mistake, and when they are, they immediately run for cover under the same blanket Mr. Foer threw over the controversy to begin with: "We are working to verify the facts in question."

You are supposed to do that first, Mr. Foer. that is the difference between good journalism and agenda journalism.


UPDATE: 2:56 PM, AZ Time -- Over at Hugh Hewitt's site, Dean Barnett has more on TNR's statement, and he has disseminated it thoroughly.

As he points out, despite TNR's statement, they are trying to twist what was originally written by Private Beauchmp. It may work in their world, but that just means more pressure will be applied to them, and a great deal of scrutiny will be launched with the release of this statement. Dean Barnett is already all over it. How long will TNR have to wait for the milbloggers to respond? Our guess is not too long.


UPDATE: 3:23 PM, AZ Time -- That did not take long. From Ace @ Ace of Spades:

Error? Mistake? He was off by an entire country and something like nine months?

This is what TNR terms an "error," a "mistake"? And when they "fact-checked" this beforehand, how did their "rigorous editing and fact-checking" miss the fact this took place in another country, before actual deployment?

I'm reminded of Steven Wright's joke: "The other day I was... oh wait, that was someone else."

Could happen to anyone, really. Common mistake.

What made this tall tale smell (and not "smell good," per TNR's standard of "fact-checking") was that no one could figure out what the hell a badly disfigured woman -- obviously a medical evacuation case -- was doing wandering around a Forward Operating Base in the first place. A med-evac was there... why? In the thick of combat and high-tempo activity... why? What is FOB Falcon, a g*ddamned sanitarium/spa? Do they have lovely regenerative baths there?
It also didn't help that no one -- no one spoken to -- could remember seeing such a woman on the base.

Please, read it all. Far more comprehensive than Dean's post (and a bit funnier; mind the salty language) but the point is the same as mine Someone screwed up, and there is little in their statement to take away from the fact that the mistakes are still coming out. As Dean pointed out, their explanation does not cite Private Beauchamp well. They do skew what he wrote, and try to spin their idea of "corroboration" as genuine.



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