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Tilting at Windmills

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December 1, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

LEBANON UPDATE....David Kenner, a young, right-leaning journalist (and student) living in Beirut, comments on W. Thomas Smith's post at NRO last September claiming that several thousand Hezbollah gunmen had been "deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut":

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Lebanon knows that these events didn't happen. So, who fed Mr. Smith this bogus news. According to him, they are "reliable sources within the Cedar Revolution movement, as well as insiders within the Lebanese national security apparatus." None of whom, apparently, are willing to go on the record. Mr. Smith says this is because they need to preserve their safety. Very well. Let me suggest a different explanation. There are plenty of people willing to feed a naive journalist fake news; there is nobody willing to risk their reputations by going on the record with blatant lies. If 4,000 - 5,000 Hezbollah foot soldiers really did deploy to Christian areas of Beirut in September, Lebanon would be tumbling over the precipice into civil war. Christian politicians and security experts would be screaming from the rooftops, not making off the record statements to one foreign journalist/blogger.

NRO promises that in the future it will provide more "context and caveats" in Smith's reporting. However, if Kenner is right, the question isn't context and caveats, it's whether or not Smith was just flatly wrong. I suspect other journalists in Beirut might be weighing in on this in the near future.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

UPDATE: More here from Thomas Edsall, who talked to four experienced Mideast reporters about Smith's claims. Their verdict? "Insane." "He's a fabulist." "It never happened." "Hilarious."

So far, NRO's response to all this has been a few paragraphs dumped on their blog late Friday afternoon. By comparison, Frank Foer has 7,000 words today in the New Republic explaining in painstaking detail the feeding frenzy over the Scott Thomas Beauchamp affair, in which Beauchamp was accused of making up stories about playing with bones and running over dogs. It's instructive. The Smith affair will undoubtedly get less traction, despite his errors being considerably graver than Beauchamp's, because (a) the liberal blogosphere just won't go quite as crazy over it, and (b) we won't have the U.S. Army egging us on, as they quite plainly did with the conservosphere in the Beauchamp affair.

TNR made some mistakes with Beauchamp, and they deserve flak for it. But Foer's piece makes clear a couple of things. First, they spent a lot of time trying to run down the accuracy of Beauchamp's first-person account. Second, the Army did everything it could to keep them from doing it. Beauchamp may not be a choir boy in all this, but the Army comes out looking a lot worse.

Which leads to this: Will anyone seriously follow up on the Army's conduct in this affair? Do I even have to ask?

Kevin Drum 1:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (131)

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Comments

Waiting for Captain Ed, Michelle Malkin and all the others who jumped on TNR for the Beauchamp debacle to comment.... crickets chirping.

Posted by: Teresa on December 1, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

However, if Kenner is right, the question isn't context and caveats, it's whether or not Smith was just flatly wrong.

Kevin, I think you're wrong here. Smith was wrong here in not providing the context about who gave him the report about the 5000 Hezbollah soldiers. He was certainly not wrong in reporting it because it's an important story if true. Airing the story is important because it gives people the opportunity to deny its veracity so that we can set the record straight.
It is the job of reporters to report would could be happening especially in important areas of the world like Lebanon while it is the job of readers to decide if it accurate or not. That is what is happening here, and that is why it was right for Smith to report the story.

Posted by: Al on December 1, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this contributes to hyping the Islam-o-Nazi Menace as the worstest thing in world history, so Smith will not be punished by any right-wing organ for his infantile rumor-spreading.

Presumably, Al is joking. Hey Al, sources told me that George Bush is on the payroll of al Qaeda, and he invaded Iraq on direct orders from Osama bin Laden. Also, Mitt Romney is rumored to have said that he would personally waterboard US soldiers if it somehow gave him a two-point bump in Iowa. Chase those reports down, willya?

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on December 1, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Smith was wrong here in not providing the context about who gave him the report about the 5000 Hezbollah soldiers.

If by "context" you mean disclosing the fact that he's simply "reporting" a rumor, then by all means, provide your context.

He was certainly not wrong in reporting it because it's an important story if true.

This just in -- we're getting word that Vice President Cheney will be indicted shortly on charges of raping a disabled goat. Thus far the Vice President has refused comment.

Airing the story is important because it gives people the opportunity to deny its veracity so that we can set the record straight.

Correction -- the goat isn't, technically, disabled, but has been seen around town wearing a diaper. It's not yet clear whether the diaper was necessary before or after the alleged rape by Cheney. Stay tuned for details.

It is the job of reporters to report would could be happening especially in important areas of the world like Lebanon while it is the job of readers to decide if it accurate or not.

Breaking news -- sources at Bethesda Animal Hospital reportedly overheard discussing the viability of human-goat fetuses. More as this story develops.

Posted by: junebug on December 1, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see Smith or NRO as being wrong at all.
His only mistake was not listing every single source. But then the Tank is a blog. Who lists every source in a blog?
I think he is being burned here unnesasarily. We don't yet have the facts.
This smells like a witchhunt.

[This is the troll Marc posting under a different name.]


Posted by: Brett on December 1, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Correction: aforementioned discussions related to human-goat fetus viability were in reference to a separate situation involving an as yet unidentified Republican junior Senator from a Bible Belt state. Sources are now telling us that the victim in the alleged Cheney goat-rape is male.

To clarify -- reports of Vice President Cheney as the defendant in a goat-paternity suit cannot, at this moment, be confirmed.

Posted by: junebug on December 1, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

NRO is not doing so well lately, huh?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 1, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Don't have too much fun with this one -- it's not that big a deal, and making it into more than it is makes US look worse for bigger mistakes.

The comparison with Beauchamp is especially unwise: Beauchamp was lying about American soldiers for being savages, which TNR found disgracefully easy to believe.

Smith simply didn't understand Lebanon, which HIS editors don't understand, either.

Ignorance ain't as bad as malice.

Going from a preemptive defense of TNR and Beauchamp, to silence (as Kevin has done), and then to a gleeful 'see, you do it, too!' is NOT the smartest approach.

Better to say to National Review: 'there, there, good thing nobody takes your reporting seriously or you might have actually been embarrassed, and we're sure you will do better next time.'

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 1, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Note that David Kenner didn't claim to have a source. His phrase "Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Lebanon knows..." is an excuse for not having actual evidence.

At this point, we have (alleged) anonymous reliable sources on one side and no sources at all on the other side. I'm keeping an open mind.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 1, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, I would say that NRO has ceased to be a serious news outlet, and is instead a periodical anthology of fictions.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 1, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Actually no. I know Marc VERY well you might say.
But how do YOU know ?

[I traced your IP]

Posted by: Brett on December 1, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I love the selective nature of the open-mindedness of the resident conservatrolls who see their contributions as offering something here besides comic relief.

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on December 1, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm keeping an open mind.

Ladies & gentlemen, I give you the comic stylings of ex-liberal.

Posted by: junebug on December 1, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Barely one hour into the comment thread, and we've already got sock puppetry about the inconveniences of sourcing in blog posts, Al pitching "caveat reader," & tA spouting off about how criticizing Smith & NRO on this one makes "us" look bad. Credit where credit is due -- they get their talking points out to the membership quickly.

Posted by: junebug on December 1, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist -- Agree with your punchline, and that comparisons between Beauchamp and Smith are questionable.

Taken individually there's not much to argue with... (1) "several thousand", yes, there are; (2) "heavily armed", yes, some are; (3) deployed in "Christian areas", yes, undoubtedly a few. However, taken as a whole, the picture goes beyond ignorance to hyperbole.

ex-liberal -- You need a source to confirm or deny what you see every day? When knowledgeable observers (and not just Kenner) who live there say Smith is wrong, and all evidence suggests Smith is wrong, then Smith needs to show otherwise; he was given the opportunity to do so, and he did not.

Moreover, if what Smith reported was true, we'd expect it to still be true today, unless subsequent events show otherwise. You heard of Hezbolla withdrawals from the areas that allegedly thousands of heavily armed fighters occupied? No. If that had happened, you'd hear of it.

Posted by: has407 on December 1, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- if you think I get talking points from the Right, you don't know much.

The most effective critics of ANYTHING, are the folks who aren't hypocrites. If the Weekly Standard (f'r instance) took off on Smith's reporting in National Review, that would be a point in their favor BECAUSE they had bitched so consistently about Beauchamp and TNR.

But Kevin (just to pick on him) had posted a pre-emptive DEFENSE of Beauchamp's bullshit -- predicting that critics would find a couple minor errors in his work, and blowing that all out of proportion.

And since it turns out that literally nothing the guy said was true, Kevin has had nothing to add to his utterly discredited take on TNR's role in this fiasco.

This doesn't exactly qualify him as a media critic.

So to whack National Review for a different, and lesser offense, ESPECIALLY with the glee reserved for catching the other guys for making the same mistake that your side, um, er, never exactly sorta kinda admitted that maybe, aahhh, well, you know, and besides it's old news, and LOOK! they do it, too! is not smart.

In the end, Smith did what most journalists are at least close to doing at some point: you don't really know that much about a situation, somebody tells you something that seems both juicy and plausible, and you run with it -- only to find out that you got suckered. (Happened to me once when the husband of a bankruptcy lawyer told me the other side was churning the file to run up the bills: I learned to question WHY I was being told stuff.) Reporting that thousands of bad guys had moved into Beirut when they hadn't is embarrassing, but not that big a deal: this isn't Judith Miller reporting about Iraq's WMDs on the front page of the NY Times. You COULD try to make it about how the Right will believe anything, but that's a dog bites man story.

So it's LESS significant than the Beauchamp story, cuz that is about a guy lying about how savage the Iraq War is making the American military, AND how easily a magazine that was once the flagship of classy lefty journalism bought into his crap.

I don't want THAT to be a dog bites man story, that folks think OF COURSE the left thinks the American military is a bunch of savages: do you, Bug?

Then why do you imagine countering it is a wingnut talking point, as opposed to, say, recognizing early and loudly that Beauchamp was full of shit?

If you're gonna crow about the crap in the corner of National Review's eye, remember the cowpie Kevin's left in your own.

Wash your face, already.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 1, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Me, I just love caveats on toast, but I can't afford it that often. I'm glad NRO will be supplying more, gratis.
I'd even subscribe to their worthless rag if it came with caveats. But it had better be beluga, not that phony salmon roe.

Posted by: Mooser on December 1, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Incidentally, the editors of TNR finally admitted that they cannot stand by Beauchamp's articles.

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=51f6dc92-7f1d-4d5b-aebe-94668b7bfb32

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 1, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, I'm starting to get a tad concerned about all those spy satellites we supposedly can see somebody's liscence plate with from space.
They can't see tons of yellowcake being delivered to Iraq, they can't see the massive nuclear infrastructure of Iran, all the stuff they did see in Iraq turned out to be phony.
And they can't see massive numbers of troops.
Do they need new batteries or something?

Posted by: Mooser on December 1, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Er, Americanist: do we really need to mention yet again that Beauchamp's very first story for TNR ( http://www.tnr.com/story.html?id=a420fc77-246f-4dc9-b62c-8cc98b6f1109 ) was on an Iraqi boy who supposedly got his tongue cut out by vicious insurgents for befriending American troops -- and then continued to befriend them anyway? Not a peep from our fact-checkers about that one at the time (although they started questioning its details AFTER the "Shock Troops" piece came out) -- presumably because by itself it proves that the rightist argument that Beauchamp and TNR were trying to Discredit Our Troops with his stories is hogwash.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 1, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think you're making too much of this. What Smith gave us was the unvarnished truth about what people were telling him, without the attendant biases that go along with actually having any clue what one is talking about.

The important thing is that Smith had a fresh, clean mind, unsullied by any specialized knowledge of Arabs and the Middle East which would have put him at risk of saying something inappropriate for publication at NRO, would embarrass Jonah Goldberg, and which their readers would have had no interest in.

Posted by: Tyro on December 1, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Moomaw: every time you raise this 'point', that Beauchamp's FIRST story was bullshit, I find myself curious as to just what you think it proves?

The PRIMARY thing about Beauchamp is that his stories were bullshit. It is secondary that the TNR was evidently particularly gullible -- first, about the kid with his tongue cut out, then about pretty much anything that Beauchamp fed 'em.

WHAT Beauchamp fed 'em, though, is important. The guy didn't start out by bragging about how heroic he and his comrades were, and wind up making up stories about rescuing Iraqi virgins from Sunni torture chambers. (Anybody think TNR would have bought that?) What he DID do, was go from the kid with his tongue cut out to making up stories about mocking a wounded comrade, etc.

And TNR bought it all, lapped it up like it was whipped cream and Tupelo honey.

So did Kevin. So did most of the posters here. Anybody remember the mighty Elmo threatening me cuz I said it was bullshit?

So here we are.

Look at the utterly PATHETIC way Foer ends his thousands of words of rationalization: "...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."

That's just pitiful. How about "we fucked up and we apologize to the soldiers we believed capable of what this asshole sold us?"

If Kevin and progressives more broadly had had the common sense to see through Beauchamp's crap earlier, and condemn it promptly and loudly, we'd be in a better position to bitch when National Review publishes a one-anonymous-source squib like Smith's.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 1, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

See, the Americanist is doing the classic whinefest of "Gosh they did it first! No Fair, waaaaaaa!" I love the rightwing argument of trying to cancel out a story because something similar happened on the flip side months ago.

How utterly pathetic! But it's no wonder wingnuts constantly strive to keep these stories alive, because it's all they've got to prove that the whole evil librul media hates teh troops and it's completely OK if this idiot Smith published complete bullshit. No problem, because Beachamp lied OH NO!!!!!


Man, talk about reaching for straws.

Posted by: Joey Z on December 1, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the utterly PATHETIC way Foer ends his thousands of words of rationalization: "...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."

I suggest that people look at the linked to article at TNR, and judge for themselves whether TNR had a right to believe that a good portion of Beauchamp's accounts had some pretty good independent verification.

As usual, theAmericanist can't seem to do anything but distort in his account of TNR's actions and justifications.

(Which, for what it's worth, certainly in my book makes him a lot less credible than Beauchamp. Beauchamp at least has the excuse that the Army has been heavily on his case and that of his fellow soldiers, and so won't do anything to further verify his assertions.)

As far as I can make out, by far the most sensible approach to Beauchamp's stories is to wait until he and his fellow soldiers get out of the military, or at least out of Iraq, and then find out what they have to say, and what can be verified.

For reasons best known to him, theAmericanist doesn't seem to have enough sphincter control to wait that long.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 1, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist: Look at the utterly PATHETIC way Foer ends his thousands of words of rationalization... That's just pitiful. How about "we fucked up and we apologize to the soldiers we believed capable of what this asshole sold us?"

While the short answer may be "we fucked up", closure demanded much more, and Foer shouldn't be faulted for providing it. Yes, there's some rationalization in there, but no one comes out looking good. FWIW, it was painful to read, and it was undoubtedly painful to write. If nothing else, I would hope and expect that other editors--including those at NRO--learn something from it.

Posted by: has407 on December 1, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Um -- frankly, Beauchamp's unit is not in Iraqw. He's s been in Germany for some time.

Any other bullshit you want to throw in before you recognize that neither the author, nor the "factcheckers", nor the "editors" nor the publisher stand behind the articles that you evidently still believe in?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 1, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

From the point of view of sheer craft, this is my objection to Foer's post: he buried the lede.

The LAST graf in the piece should have been the first, and the rest of it should've been organized around the lede: "we cannot stand by these stories" should've been the first six words.

Not that I'm a paragon of this stuff, but I once wrote a memo to my boss at the time titled "Why I Should Be Fired", cuz I had fucked up over something significant. Report your own bad news is generally pretty good advice -- it doesn't get better if you deny that it's news, much less that it's bad. It's not just character, it's craft.

Think about it -- if Foer had led with "we cannot stand by Beauchamp's stories", he wouldn't have spent a dozen pages explaining why the stories were, too! properly vetted by, um, er, policies on factchecking that we've changed cuz how the hell were we supposed to know that our factchecker had MARRIED this bullshit artist???

I mean, puh-LEEEZE: Foer's piece shows no class whatsoever, with innuendo and outright accusations against the Army, the Bush administration, and their media and blog critics because... they arrived at TNR's conclusions months before Foer finally realized they were right and Beauchamp was wrong?

A shout out to Blue Girl who called these 'war stories' right away: and Kevin, where were YOU?

It's like I said about hypocrisy: if Kevin had caught on early that Beauchamp was full of shit and SAID so, he'd be in a better position to point out that National Review is full of shit now.

And frankly, well: he's just an idiot.

If Foer had put all of the stuff that makes him and TNR look bad in the first graf of his piece, he'd have been better off, viz: 'We cannot stand by Beauchamp's stories. We should never have run them in the first place. When we DID run 'em, and people questioned 'em, we gave him every chance to stand up and defend them, and we stood by him. We can't keep doing that. So it's not about him anymore, not about the Army, not about our critics. It's about US. It's about OUR standards. We failed, and we apologize. We will walk through our whole sorry performance now, and draw the lessons. We don't want anybody ELSE to get the chance to be our harshest critic...'

Folks oughta try it. Believe it or not, it gets easier with practice.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 1, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist, you really have WAY too much time on your hands, you know that right? Single much?

Posted by: Joey Z on December 1, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Aw, Smith didn't make up any stories about our heroic men and/or women in uniform running over dogs, so what difference does it make?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 1, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist at 6:14 PM...it gets easier with practice.

Only fools would claim that Iraqis are not being abused or that Iraqi children have not suffered horribly [graphic photos - do not click] because of Bush's invasion and occupation.

Posted by: Mike on December 1, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

The comparison with Beauchamp is especially unwise: Beauchamp was lying about American soldiers for being savages, which TNR found disgracefully easy to believe.

Americanist, you need to shut the hell up. TNR has been n othing but a rabid, ignorant booster of the Iraq war, and you know it, and the only sources reporting "confirmation" of Beauchamp's reports being false was The Weekly Standard.

Smith was just a right-wing propagandist beating the drums of war for a violent, ignorant right-wing audience back home. Your outrage is disturbingly selective. That you cling to the right wing naratives about Beauchamp also says some creepy things about you.

Posted by: Tyro on December 1, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I see the idiot poster claiming to be an "Americanist" still thinks that the military, who terrorized the civilian population of Baghdad with four-hundred bombs in an failed attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein, is above reproach and that somehow the "Thomas" stories were beyond the pale.

What's beyond the pale is that the United States Military is still, more than four years after the brutal and unprovoked assault on the citizens of Iraq, behind this unjust and sickening war.

Hm...mocking a disfigured woman? No, military discipline would never allow something so horrific. Dropping 1000 lbs of ordinance on an innocent woman and child in the hopes of killing a suspected (not convicted) bad guy? Let's start handing out medals!

Compared to reality the "Thomas" stories were trivial. Those who fetishize the military want to focus on those stories and the question of whether they are 100% factual because looking at the known facts about what has happened in Iraq undermines their fairytale version of the troops.

Posted by: heavy on December 1, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Mike and heavy eagerly prove my point.

"Only fools would claim that Iraqis are not being abused or that Iraqi children have not suffered horribly..." -- Mike

""Americanist" still thinks that the military, who terrorized the civilian population of Baghdad with four-hundred bombs in an failed attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein, is above reproach.."

Never said anything REMOTELY like either one.

What I HAVE said, is that Beauchamp was full of shit.

I have ALSO said (it's my primary point in this thread) is that folks who aren't hypocrites are more effective critics of the media. F'r instance (as I noted), if the Weekly Standard took a whack at National Review over the Smith story about Lebanon, it would be a point in its favor: going after someone on 'their side', the same way they went after someone on the other.

Going too fast for you guys?

The thing is, folks like Kevin blow the credibility of progressives broadly when we defend bullshit stories of a particular sort, and then GLEEFULLY say -- well, there the RIGHT wing goes, just the way... um, somebody on our side was, er, accused of doing, not that anybody actually PROVED anything, of course....

It makes it HARDER to go after genuine atrocities and stooopidly cruel policies in Iraq, when we've swallowed bullshit like Beauchamp.

This is too complex? Read it again: and pull your heads out of your ass, willya?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 1, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

"There are plenty of people willing to feed a naive journalist fake news....."

Shouldn't that read "an ideologue passing him self off as a journalist while pushing his agenda"?

Posted by: Chris Brown on December 1, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Facts, schmacts! Why, you can prove anything even remotely true using facts!"

Posted by: homer simpson on December 1, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

You know, if all you binary (you're with us or against us) thinkers would refrain from commenting here the rest of us wouldn't have to wade through your tit-for-tat crap.

Posted by: Chris Brown on December 1, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

cb: wade through your tit-for-tat crap.

then it wouldn't be a blog..

would it?

Posted by: mr. irony on December 1, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist: do cut the gibberish, okay? Beauchamp's first piece shows that TNR is guilty (at most) of not adequately fact-checking (at tremendous length) two stories which together prove that the magazine is NOT trying to ruin Our Boys' reputation. NR's failure to fact-check Smith's article MAY just prove equally sloppy fact-checking on their part (or sloppier, since Smith's "facts" -- as Kenner says -- were a lot easier to check). Of course, since National Review has yet to get caught running a comparably erroneous ANTI-war piece, the case for Suspicious Bias on their part is a lot stronger at the moment than the case for it in TNR.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 1, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Um -- frankly, Beauchamp's unit is not in Iraqw. He's s been in Germany for some time.

Then how about waiting until he and his fellow soldiers get out of the military -- you know, past a point where they can be subjected to a court martial if they don't keep their mouths shut?

Why would that just kill you, theAmericanist? You afraid that your whole case against Beauchamp might fall apart if you don't have the military around to make sure that Beauchamp doesn't freely speak his mind on his story?

Posted by: frankly0 on December 1, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

it's whether or not Smith was just flatly wrong. I

I believe the word you are looking for here is "lying."

Posted by: craigie on December 1, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

The big difference to me is that NRO corrected the problem in one day - TNR took four and a half months before realizing stonewalling wasn't going to work, then trying to throw up a lot of dust about out-of-work porn actors and the meanies in the Army press office...

Posted by: mr insensitive on December 1, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

theClownist demonstrates that he is guilty of exactly what he accuses his critics of doing. There has been precious little defense of the "Thomas" stories, but at every opportunity theClownist brings it back into the discussion. Why? Because, as he has done numerous times, he fetishizes the troops and wants to pretend they are above criticism. Did he engage in that specific behavior in this thread? No need. Here he use the distraction of the Thomas story to pretend that everyone is doing the same thing equally and thereby exonerate the liars on the right (actually, when he laughably claims that Thomas' stories show the military in a bad light but then ignores how reality shows them in a far worse light he is doing exactly what he pretends he did not).

His commentary also intimates that I have, in some way, defended the veracity of the Thomas stories. He is, of course, lying. No one has swallowed the stories. A lot of us have pointed out that his accusers have a history of falsehoods (wow, isn't it amazing that the military keeps exonerating those accused of war crimes - Haditha springs to mind) and therefore make less than credible witnesses, but very few have ever said "the Thomas stories are true." And, it appears, none in this thread.

Face facts Clownist. Whether or not the Thomas stories are true, the fact remains that Iraq is a clusterfuck of stunning proportions and that every order given from the moment of the terrorist bombing of Baghdad has been illegal and, consequently, a war crime. That the United States Military is so corrupt as to acquiesce to these criminal acts swamps any and all falsehoods by the pro-war New Republic. Stop focusing on the mote in someone else's eye while ignoring the massive fucking beam in your own.

The military has gone along with an unprovoked, unnecessary, and ill-advised assault on the people of Iraq. No misreporting by the neo-con supporting New Republic changes that. The hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis do not thank you, Clownist, for your attempts to switch the focus to trivia.

Posted by: heavy on December 1, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

they get their talking points out to the membership quickly.

Fake Al's comic point was pointed up in the very next comic. "Important story if true" is, of course, a ludicrous rationale.

Fake Al's sense of the ludicrous/horrifying in right wing thinking is positively uncanny.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on December 1, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Have the uberboys at the Corner apologized yet for the NR's cover and general stance on the Negro problem and their despicable treatment of MLK?

Accepting a mistake made by a third grade unknown blogger can hardly be accepted as a sign of any sort of ethics or morality.

Posted by: gregor on December 1, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK
BTW, I'm starting to get a tad concerned about all those spy satellites we supposedly can see somebody's license plate with from space. They can't see tons of yellowcake being delivered to Iraq,
The diffraction limit for a 5 meter spy telescope (rather big for current launch vehicles, unless the spy agencies have managed to do multiple-mirror space telescopes, that look down, sigh) is about 5cm from looking straight down from a 250Km orbital height. I'm not aware of any ways to beat the diffraction limit from space but who knows. At maximum resolution they are looking at a fairly small area. I don't have any clue how often they would look at a particular spot at maximum resolution - that information would be extremely classified. Clouds and gaps in satellite coverage (known to opponents) are additional problems. Then interesting features need to be identified, etc. Posted by: Bill Arnold on December 1, 2007 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Going from a preemptive defense of TNR and Beauchamp, to silence (as Kevin has done), and then to a gleeful 'see, you do it, too!' is NOT the smartest approach."

Since you're lying about Kevin, forgive us if we don't take your long dissertations seriously, particularly since they are entirely off topic.

Back on topic, is anyone surprised at this? NRO has long been interested in "news" that fits their bias, even if they have to make it up.

Posted by: PaulB on December 1, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, didn't you hear that the Republican candidates got asked a question by a democrat?

Posted by: asdf on December 1, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Insensitive: First, TNR's statement consists entirely of saying that -- while they can't positively nail down Beauchamp as telling the truth -- they DID find corroborative evidence on every point except the dining hall being in Kuwait instead of Iraq, on which they nailed him (after extensive investigation) as lying. On every other point, as they say, the Army has thrown up so many roadblocks to investigation (hardly surprising for anyone who knows the Army) that even after months of investigation on their part there's simply no way ever to know who was telling the truth (except for that limited corroborative evidence from other witnesses). Not exactly a major journalistic sin on their part.

Second, regarding NR and Smith: Kenner mentions on his new entry that back on Oct. 23 he also reported Smith making a personal claim that, for sheer ludicrousness, puts any of Beauchamp's stories totally in the shadows. http://davidbkenner.com/2007/10/sometimes_americans_are_stupid.html :

"W. Thomas Smith of the National Review struck a blow for freedom the other day:

" 'I snatched a Hezbollah flag -- the yellow banner with the green fist and rifle -- from one of the enemy's strongholds in Lebanon recently. And when I say stronghold, I literally mean a strong, heavily defended battle position where the Lebanese Army and police dare not enter, and I had to enter covertly.'

"It's hard to decide what is most grating about this post. Maybe it's his description of the dahiyeh as a'"heavily defended battle position' that he entered 'covertly.' What were his James Bond-worthy techniques? Hopping into a taxi and saying 'Haret Hreik?' "

Posted by: BruceMoomaw on December 1, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

"His commentary also intimates that I have, in some way, defended the veracity of the Thomas stories. He is, of course, lying."

Yup. He lied about Kevin and he's lying about everyone else here. Nobody here really "defended" Beauchamp. What we did was point out that we didn't know the truth and neither did his accusers at that time. Many of us were simply amused at the importance that his accusers attached to the story and the hissy fits they were throwing.

In the case in question here, it appears that NRO hasn't been applying common sense to their reporter's stories, much less fact checking. Again, is anyone surprised by this?

Posted by: PaulB on December 1, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Man, you guys are dumb.

What PaulB (et al) say to prove my point:

"He lied about Kevin and he's lying about everyone else here..."

What Kevin said about Smith: "the question isn't context and caveats, it's whether or not Smith was just flatly wrong..."

What I noted about hypocrisy: "folks like Kevin blow the credibility of progressives broadly when we defend bullshit stories of a particular sort, and then GLEEFULLY say -- well, there the RIGHT wing goes, just the way... um, somebody on our side was, er, accused of doing, not that anybody actually PROVED anything, of course....

"It makes it HARDER to go after genuine atrocities and stooopidly cruel policies in Iraq, when we've swallowed bullshit like Beauchamp."

What I said about Kevin's approach to Beauchamp:

"Going from a preemptive defense of TNR and Beauchamp, to silence (as Kevin has done), and then to a gleeful 'see, you do it, too!' is NOT the smartest approach."

The LAST thing Kevin said about Beauchamp:

"Like a Kabuki story, though, you can already see how this is going to play out. Not only will Thomas's character be dragged savagely through the mud ... but eventually some small part of Thomas's account will turn out to be slightly exaggerated and... "

What else IS that, if not a "preemptive defense"?

Yo, Kevin: some small part of Beauchamp's account will turn out to be... exaggerated?

How's that working out? Thus -- from a preemptive defense, to .... silence. (cue crickets)

Methinks the question isn't context and caveats, but whether TNR was flat-out wrong.

And whether Kevin, and a whole lotta you guys, are so hypocritically screwy it is a wonder you piss in a straight line.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 1, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Owens has been following the Beauchamp story closely. His reponse to Foer's article is at http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/12/the_new_republic_tries_to_come.php

It finishes with:

As editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer allowed Scott Thomas Beauchamp to publish three stories that were not competently fact-checked. At least one of those that was assigned to his wife to fact-check even though that was a clear conflict of interest. All three of those stories—not just"ShockTroops"— had significant “red flags” in them. These red flags range from the changing of a tire of a vehicle equipped with run-flat tires in "War Bonds," to several obvious and easily verifiable untrue statements, including the claim of a discovery of a kind of ammunition that do not exist, and absurd evidence for allegations of murder "Dead of Night" that could have been (and were) debunked in less than 30 seconds with a simple Google search.

The bottom line is that the Scott Beauchamp debacle was a test of editorial character for The New Republic under Franklin Foer’s leadership. For over four months, the magazine has answered that challenge by hiding behind anonymous sources, making personal attacks against critics, asserting a a massive conspiracy against them, while covering up conflicting testimony and refusing to answer the hard questions.

Even to the end, Foer continues to blame everyone else for his continuing editorial failures., penning a fourteen-page excuse without a single, "I’m sorry."

The readers and staff deserve better, and it is past time for Franklin Foer to leave The New Republic.

It will be interesting to see whether or not TNR replaces Foer as editor.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 2, 2007 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist: "Yo, Kevin: some small part of Beauchamp's account will turn out to be... exaggerated?

"How's that working out? Thus -- from a preemptive defense, to .... silence. (cue crickets)"

Actually, I don't think Drum needs to answer you, snce (as I pointed out above) his prediction has worked out just fine. TNR has found corroborative witnesses for most of Beauchamp's story -- including the Disfigured Woman Soldier incident -- but the latter stated that it happened in Kuwait rather than Iraq, which is the only part of Beauchamp's stories disproven so far.

As for Bob Owens (and, by the way, just how much attention should we pay in any case to someone who affectionately calls himself "Confederate"?): see my reference above to Kenner exposing Smith as a downright ridiculous fraud 39 days ago, during which time NR's fact-checkers didn't bother to respond.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 2, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Never trust people named Kenner. They tend to be antisemites and Nazi sympathizers, and the authors of pretentious, crappy, messy, unreadable books and articles of mystifying renown.

Posted by: Anon on December 2, 2007 at 4:47 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry. Could not afford the time to go through the posts, but anybody over 30 years old pretty much knows how devided this city/nation is, how intrusions are rejected, and how unbelievable his story is.

Of course, whe've seen how US forces react to the same misinformed or deliberAtely misconceived directive, punishing innocent people. How you like that?

Posted by: notthere on December 2, 2007 at 4:51 AM | PERMALINK

OT, as usual:

The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act: A Tutorial in Orwellian Newspeak
by Robert Weitzel

H.R 1955: the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 recently passed by the House -- a companion bill is in the Senate -- is barely one sentence old before its Orwellian moment:

It begins, "AN ACT - To prevent homegrown terrorism, and for other purposes." ...

[Emphasis added. By all means, read on in the original for some rather disturbing revelations.]
.

Posted by: Poilu on December 2, 2007 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK

Moomaw, you are WAY in denial. TNR just published a 14 page explanation of why they no longer stand behind the stories -- but YOU still believe 'em?

Is THAT how you want to be remembered on this one, Kevin? Is TNR demonstrating the standards for your profession that you live by?

The kinds of things Beauchamp got caught for aren't minor -- his claim that combat made him cruel, f'r instance, evaporates when he ADMITTED that he lied about mocking the wounded soldier. If it happened at all, it happened BEFORE he saw combat. So the whole premise of his war stories vanishes BY HIS OWN ADMISSION.

What part of this is unclear to you, Moomaw?

Like I said, this really shouldn't be about Beauchamp anymore, nor the Army, nor TNR's critics who were right to blast Foer, et al, for gullibility.

It OUGHT to be about the standards that professionals insist on for a 'zine like TNR (or the Monthly, for that matter). But burying the lede in the last graf isn't just about craft, it's about character, too.

That's why I'm calling Kevin out on it: either he believes, like Moomaw, that his prediction was right, that TNR has backed off Beauchamp's stories for, er, not being "exactly" accurate because of all this right wing pressure over 'minor details'...

.. or he knows now that Beauchamp was full of shit, but he simply won't say so. Contrast National Review:

What Smith did, in 'reporting' that 3,000 gunmen had deployed to part of Beirut, was bad journalism. We OUGHT to be able to apply the same standards to Beauchamp that folks want to apply to Smith, right?

So just walk through these:

Why was it bad? First and most importantly, cuz it wasn't true.

How did something that bad get written? For Smith (but not Beauchamp) it was relying on anonymous sources who fed him a line that he swallowed whole. (He's probably lucky they didn't tell him "and they have nukes, too!!!") For Beauchamp (but not Smith) it was trying to become a Writer, the Hemingway of the 21st century.

How did something that bad get published? For both Smith and Beauchamp's "editors", it was relying on the author's professionalism and integrity. In Smith's case, because it was an online entry rather than a paper article, there was no buffer of a factchecking process: the guy did an unprofessional job. (It seems a bit much to figure he contacted an elaborate lie about Hezbollah in Lebanon: game ain't worth the candle.) For Beauchamp, the factcheckers simply didn't check facts even at first, and rapidly developed a personal relationship with the guy that meant TNR published what he told 'em, UNCHECKED. He demonstrated a lack of integrity, but nobody ever expected him to be a professional journalist, which is precisely WHY the TNR editors fucked up so bad. THEY were the ones with professional responsibilities.

How did these two different 'zines react? National Review cleared this up in a matter of days if not hours: as soon as they realized they'd been had, they 'fessed up and promised to do better. Note that this isn't necessarily a fatal thing for either the writer or the editors: shit like this happens from time to time, ya learn and move on. Next time, Smith is likely to wonder why he's being told something so juicy that nobody else has reported, AND the editor is likely to ask: did you check it out?

But TNR spent MONTHS trying to weasel out of their responsibility for publishing bullshit. I read Foer's 14 pages, just like I read TNR's rationalizations for Glass, and even McGaughey's health care hit piece they ran long ago. I don't think they've learned a thing. In this case, they pretended that they had 're-reported' the Bradley stuff -- but the guy they talked to, whom they did not name but critics found and DID name, explained that they had done only the most cursory sort of confirmation. When he saw the actual article, the guy said: no way.

Those aren't 'minor details'. They're the fundamentals for integrity in this biz: are you trying to tell the truth or cover your ass?

One more time: this is about HYPOCRISY.

The good guys would be in a LOT stronger position to criticize National Review for fucking up on Lebanon (just once, and in a minor way), not to mention the next time we get fed a line about something bigger, if more of us had seen through Beauchamp earlier, said it was bullshit louder, or at least after all this, yanked ourselves outa the Nile where Moomaw is doing the backstroke.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Poilu: All American legislation includes the phrase "and for other purposes", and always has. It's a convention, because otherwise some idiot might claim that the bill is limited to the effect of its title.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

"One more time: this is about HYPOCRISY."

Since you've basically been lying about Kevin and about everyone else this entire thread, you have yet to establish that there has been a single instance of "HYPOCRISY" from anyone here.

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and "theAmericanist"? Give it up. You've been digging that hole deeper and deeper this entire thread, going off on inaccurate and off-topic rants that nobody here gives a rats ass about. You don't have your facts straight, about anything associated with this topic, which means that what you're writing says far more about you than it does about anyone here.

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Got nothing else to add, PB?

Kindly show me anything that I've said in this thread that wasn't true. Use quotation marks. If you don't know how that's done, read the post where I noted Kevin's "preemptive defense" of Beauchamp -- then quoted what Kevin had said, word for word.

The method beyond you? Seems simple to me.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Bob Owens has been following the Beauchamp story closely. ...

Perhaps, ex-liberal, you can explain what this post has to do with Beauchamp.

Posted by: Tyro on December 2, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

What's it got to do with Beauchamp? Hypocrisy -- raised in the very first post, by Teresa.

TRY to keep up, Tyro.

Her point ought to be well-taken, BOTH ways, cuz it's mine, too: she kvetched that Malkin, et al, should go after National Review the way they went after TNR.

I'm noting that we'd be in a far better position to go after National Review if more of us had seen through Beauchamp earlier, said so, and held TNR to professional standards.

LOL -- and for that, we get Moomaw's denial, and PB insisting that I'm lying for quoting Kevin's preemptive defense of TNR, verbatim.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

A right-wing journalist lying about events in the Middle East? Shocking! Who would have heard of such a thing? Democrats need to put Bush under constant assault, with impeachment, lawsuits, eggs and rotten vegetables chucked at him constantly and keep him from doing any more harm in his godawful presidency!!! Hell, do a flying tackle as he walks to the microphone for a press conference and shatter his knees. Anything to keep this worm down for the count...

Posted by: The Grim Reaper on December 2, 2007 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

theamericanist, i read this thread in growing fascination at your mammoth stupidity, and since you ask: you mischaracterize foer's review; you mischaracterize kevin's position; you mischaracterize the NRO; and you mischarcterize by implication the relative importance of whether or not the TNR stuff is true vs. whether or not the NRO stuff was true.

in short, as mary mccarthy so memorably said about lillian hellman, everything you say is a lie, including "and" and "the!"

more seriously: the fact that war is hell and dehumanizes soldiers is so obviously true that people have been writing about it for several thousand years. that's why no one with a brain really cared all that much about the beauchamp stuff: it wasn't surprising in the slightest and it doesn't say all that much about whether or not we should be in iraq. in a word, this was all quite trivial, of substance only to moron right-wingers who live to express outrage and say stupid shit.

on the other hand, the disposition of hezbollah in lebanon is mighty important and really does influence the debate in a substantive way: getting it wrong matters quite a bit (although, in the scheme of things, NRO being a source of zero credibility, it too was trivial in terms of the national debate).

not that i would expect you to understand anything of the sort, and certainly not that i would expect the treasonous SOB bob owens to understand anything.

Posted by: howard on December 2, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

May I cut in?

I should like to make a proposal. I propose that people in The United States and Internationally start planning for the BIGGEST, and I mean the BIGGEST celebration EVER when (and if) this train wreck of an administration is finally GONE. Begin planning now.

One stipulation: wait to hold the celebrations until after Jan 20, 2009. Hold them after election day may provoke some sort of brainless response from the BA everyone would regret.

Posted by: Anticipation on December 2, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Aww, Howard: you can do better'n THAT, can't you?

For one thing, what I "asked" for was quotes. You say that I misrepresented Foer's piece. I quoted it. You didn't. You claimed I misrepresented Kevin's take on Beauchamp, which I called a 'preemptive defense'. I quoted what Kevin SAID. You didn't.

Where I come from, this makes you a liar, a fool, or a coward. If ya can back up what you say, USE QUOTES. Show us.

You can't.

The idea that war makes people hard wasn't Beauchamp's invention. I didn't dispute that people do bad stuff in war, nor that Americans are no different from other folks.

Are you THAT thick?

I keep noting something that OUGHT to be obvious, and it really is remarkable the extent to which you guys want to live in some parallel universe where it ain't true: folks who are not hypocrites are more effective critics than those who ARE.

That was Teresa's point in the first frigging post in this thread. I simply took her point to the obvious conclusion that it applies to BOTH sides.

She had observed that Malkin, et al, who had criticized TNR over Beauchamp ought to also take the same kinds of shots at National Review.

I pointed out that it is ALSO true that folks who are whacking NR, would be more effective at it, if they had also seen through Beauchamp.

If you disagree with that, say so. Cuz your bullshit attack on me simply shows you're clueless AND gutless.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

So Thomas Smith "bragged about stealing a Hezbollahi flag from the Dahiyeh."

...Sounds to me like this Mr.-Smith-Goes-To-Beirut guy has managed to bring new meaning to the term flag-waving!

Posted by: Cynthia on December 2, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

For reasons best known to him, theAmericanist doesn't seem to have enough sphincter control to wait that long.

Actually no. There is a level of fear that a good portion of B'champ's stories are correct. So they must pounce on him now, discredit as fully as possible w/out having all the facts so that the meme established.

Then when all the facts come out, they no longer matter one whit. The story, right or wrong has already been established. The truth no longer matters.

Posted by: Simp on December 2, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Just outta idle curiousity there, Simp: what would it take to convince you that Beauchamp's stories are bullshit?

He's already admitted that the central premise (that combat made him cruel) is false: he mocked the wounded veteran before he had seen combat, if the incident happened at all.

He's admitted that he is shockingly unreliable, confusing whole COUNTRIES, not to mention that whole before and after thing.

Those strike you as minor errors, like publishing color spelled with a "us"?

TNR tried to defend their handling of the stories by insisting that they had, so! fact checked 'em beforehand. Then they went back to "re-report" 'em. If they were factchecked so well in the first place, why was that necessary?

When somebody checked up on just ONE part of Tnr's "re-reporting", the interview with an expert at the company that manufactures the Bradley, turns out that HE wouldn't stand behind what TNR used him to verify.

They had 'checked out' Beauchamp's stories with the expert THEY had picked (and cited) without, yanno, actually showing him the article with the claims he was supposed to be vouching for. When he read the article, he said: no way.

And, oh, yeah: there's that detail about Beauchamp marrying the TNR person who was supposed to be checking his veracity.

Finally, ya have Foer his own self after FOUR MONTHS and first going through fourteen pages of explaining just how reliable the stories are, really, honest, f'r real), saying "...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."

So, serious question: what WOULD it take for you to say, yanno, this guy's stories are bullshit?

Set a benchmark.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Not sure why I'm trying, but just for the heck of it

"we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them" is not the same thing as saying the stories are bullshit.

The quote certainly implies that the events did happen in some manner. I don't have time to (or the desire) to check out the famous 14 pages. But it seems that if the editors thought his story was false, they would have said so.

Posted by: tomeck on December 2, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's quite obvious that the most important thing that has happened in the past several years is whether one guy relating yet more "war is hell" stories was 20%, 90%, or 5% factual. This is a far more important issue than some asshole warblogger drumming up hatred for Middle Easterners in an attempt to foment ever more war.

I mean, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians pales by comparison with the location of a soldier mocking a disfigured woman.

The terrorist bombing of Baghdad? Less important than that stuck pixel on my five-year-old camera's LCD. No, what really matters is whether it is possible to use a fighting vehicle to run over a dog.

What the hell is wrong with you people that you think we should care about more lies designed to increase the body count? There are more important things at stake!

/theClownist

Posted by: heavy on December 2, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Of all the many unfounded things Meck has said, this ranks high: "it seems that if the [TNR] editors thought his story was false, they would have said so..."

And what is your evidence for THAT, pray tell? We're talking about the New Republic here.

Look, when you're caught on the fishhook of your own gullible hypocrisy, STOP WRIGGLING. A fishhook is designed to cause more damage when you wriggle. You're about to rip out a gill.

(patiently)Objections to the contrast between National Review's reaction to Smith and TNR's to Beauchamp fall into a couple broad categories:

First, there are folks who did NOT object when Teresa (and Kevin) made the contrast first -- cuz THEY were talking about how Malkin, et al, were unlikely to whack National Review for publishing bullshit, the way Malkin, et al, had whacked TNR for publishing Beauchamp.

These folks are plainly hypocrites cuz they necessarily accept the comparison between Smith's piece and Beauchamp's stories when it suits their purpose (bashing TNR's critics), and NOT when it holds them to the same standard (cuz they want to bitch about National Review, but not TNR -- at least, not in THIS case). This is a classic bit of hypocrisy where the doubletalk is unmistakeable.

Second, ya got folks who insist that TNR's reaction to Beauchamp's bullshit is NOT the same as National Review's reaction to Smith, because (so these folks insist) Beauchamp's stories might still be true, while Smith was obviously wrong.

These folks are simply in denial to the point of delusion. The single most important thing about Beauchamp's stories (that combat made him cruel) has been ADMITTED to be false, by Beauchamp himself. Hell, TNR itself made a big deal about this in their transcribed conversation with Beauchamp, the Army, and a TNR lawyer (ahem, 'for' Beauchamp). And the whole thing just cascades from there -- the NAMED sources the Army cites that Beauchamp is full of shit (including, um, Beauchamp himself), his refusal to provide those documents to TNR (which TNR itself notes that he can do any time, but won't), TNR's blubbering about the personal lives of their critics, ye gods.

When the guy who ran the stories sez he can't say they happened "exactly" as they were published, give it UP, already.

Third, you have folks (like Kevin, I suspect) who understand that for all their sins, National Review realized they'd fucked up and promptly resolved the issue, while TNR fucked up and spent four months trying to weasel out of it, finally making a truly bizarre 'they-a culpa' for fourteen pages.

These folks are basically ashamed, and can't figure out a face-saving way out of a contrast between National Review and TNR where NR looks good and TNR looks bad. They're sorta like the enabler for the drunk who just passed out in the living room... again.

Finally, ya got folks who want to look past the obvious parallels, that BOTH National Review & TNR published bullshit pieces, to claim that in National Review's case this was a Very Significant Fuckup, consistent with its longstanding record of being fuckups, while it doesn't actually matter than Beauchamp's stories are full of shit, because after all, We All Know That War Is Hell and this one was unjustified, and besides Abu Ghraib really happened and...

THOSE are the folks who are the most wrong here.

God forbid there is some grunt out there who sees something seriously wrong, and thinks he should turn to the New Republic, or ANY other progressive publication, to get the truth out.

Take yer pick: are you a pure hypocrite, a denialist, too shamed to speak up, or just too dumb to realize that trying to change the subject is why the barb just goes deeper?

Cuz you guys are pissing away our credibility on bigger matters that count for more. For what?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

theamericanist, you don't seem to understand: i don't need to do "better than that." your demand for "quotes" doesn't move me, because everything you have written is, to some degree, a complete work of fantasy, admittedly spittle-flecked in a kind of interesting way, given that you have no sense of nuance at all.

but more significantly, you don't actually create arguments at all: you simply scream and shout and bluster and spew nonsensical "observations."

you mis-represent foer because, in fact, what foer says is that many of the details check out, some don't, the army has made it exceedingly difficult to verify further, and therefore, TNR won't stand behind the full articles.

you mis-represent kevin becuase you can't understand the english language.

you mis-represent NRO because you claim they responded right away, when they did nothing of the sort.

and you still don't seem to grasp the essential triviality of your comments: the difference between (potentially) embroidered anecdotes that war is hell, written as a first person account, and a total exaggeration of hezbollah in lebanon, written as a news account, is apparent to all people with a brain.

bottom line: for hypocrisy to be present, someone has to be hypocritical. that is, they have to reverse their stand when the exact same circumstances arise again. when you find some hypocrisy, come on back, y'hear? otherwise, your high-school taunts (i'm "gutless?" what the fuck do you know about anything? you actually think you're someone whose opinion i give a good god-damn about?) may pass muster in right-winger comment circles, but among the adults of this great land, they're treated as the simplicities of an angry stoop.

Posted by: howard on December 2, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

tomeck: The quote certainly implies that the events did happen in some manner. I don't have time to (or the desire) to check out the famous 14 pages. But it seems that if the editors thought his story was false, they would have said so.

Tomeck, I did read the entire 14 pages. It's 13 1/2 pages of self-serving bull, followed by a brief retraction. As you say, the wording of the retraction implies that the story might not be totally false, but I no longer have confidence in Foer's integrity.

Instead of dealing with all the alleged inaccuracies in an organized way, the 14 pages jump around and ignore many of them. Rather than read the 14 pages, I recommend reading the comments at TNR's site

The low point concerns a reporter who got information from the miltary that TNR didn't get. That's because he asked for it and TNR didn't, which TNR doesn't mention. TNR points out that he was once a porn actor. This slur is reminiscent of the Joseph McCarthy "Have you no shame?" incident.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 2, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ex Lib

I don't read TNR and have no opinion one way or the other on Foer. But I do agree with the other opinions here that this is a minor issue. There are plenty of examples of journalists, talk radio hosts, editorialists, bloggers etc. getting things wrong either intentionally or unintentionally.

Posted by: tomeck on December 2, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

(snicker) Howard, you're dumber than I thought you were.

The ARMY didn't make it difficult for TNR to verify Beauchamp's bullshit.

For one thing, there's a WAR going on in Iraq. Beauchamp's unit was in harm's way. Perhaps the most breathtaking thing about the whole sorry incident is how utterly out of touch TNR shows itself to be from that simple fact of life.

For another, the Army has sworn statements from a very long list of named soldiers that establish Beauchamp is full of shit.

It is central to Foer's rationalizations that he can't stand behind Beauchamp's bullshit anymore -- cuz BEAUCHAMP won't let him see those sworn statements.

Not "the Army". Beauchamp. Because these concern HIS privacy, it is not up to the Army to release 'em. It's up to him.

He won't.

LOL -- it may not matter much to you, Howard, that I've concluded you're a chickenshit idjit, but the folks of whom you are typical oughta care a LOT what folks like me think of you: or haven't you noticed?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Some loser said

"but the folks of whom you are typical oughta care a LOT what folks like me think of you:"

That's the funniest thing I've read all week, thanks american idiot.

yes, we care SO MUCH what obsessive failures such as yourself think. You've stunk up this thread long enough, try getting a life if you can.

Posted by: Ringo on December 2, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Read polls.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

A number of people here predicted that Michelle Malkin was unlikely to whack National Review. Well, she just did.

http://michellemalkin.com/2007/12/02/and-now-for-some-shoddy-war-reportingfrom-an-nro-milblogger/

Malkin wrote:

Kathryn Lopez, to her credit, immediately disclosed the controversy to readers. Contrary to the TNR editors, she thanked the reporter who first questioned Smith’s account, instead of trashing critics.

snip

Smith’s work in those posts was not “good” or “brave.” And “the nature of blogging” doesn’t excuse the phenomenal errors. Given Smith’s admissions, “reliable” is not a word that should attach to his Lebanon reporting.

We are all fallible. We all make mistakes. But these were not small mistakes. They were XXL ones.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 2, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- it just gets worse and worse, doesn't it?

Look -- I'm not particularly impressed that National Review reported a whopper out of Lebanon, cuz I dunno that ... National Review???? is a media outlet most folks would rely on to figure out what's going on in Beirut. It's bad journalism, but it doesn't move much.

But it IS a major problem for progressives that we are perceived to reflexively believe the worst about our military.

So Beauchamp's bullshit is more consequential than Smith's, the same way it's worse when a guy with three DUI's on his record leaves a bar and gets into his car. You might want to be extra fair and note that this doesn't MEAN he was drunk -- but when he drives over the curb and through the newspaper boxes, it's a clue.

Most of you guys keep insisting that the looooong list of named sources, etc., don't amount to evidence that Beauchamp is full of shit: which is just nuts.

So I'm seriously disappointed in Kevin: just what exactly did the Army do wrong, here? One of their guys wrote up some bullshit under a pen name, accusing his unit of serious lapses of discipline. They investigated it. They have a list of sworn statements under oath that none of it ever happened. They cooperated with every news source that I've ever heard of in this incident; it's Beauchamp who won't let TNR see what they've asked for. TNR's response to one guy who asked for something that THEY didn't ask for, is to slur his character.

Just how is this mess the Army's fault?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Did you actually READ Foer's piece, Americanist?(At this point, by the way, you'll pardon me for concluding that your references to having liberal sympathies are approximately as believable as O.J.'s determination to pursue the real killers.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 2, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Kindly show me anything that I've said in this thread that wasn't true.

Beauchamp was lying about American soldiers for being savages
Going from a preemptive defense of TNR and Beauchamp, to silence (as Kevin has done), and then to a gleeful 'see, you do it, too!' is NOT the smartest approach.
But Kevin (just to pick on him) had posted a pre-emptive DEFENSE of Beauchamp's bullshit
In the end, Smith did what most journalists are at least close to doing at some point
Reporting that thousands of bad guys had moved into Beirut when they hadn't is embarrassing, but not that big a deal
So did Kevin. So did most of the posters here.
The thing is, folks like Kevin blow the credibility of progressives broadly when we defend bullshit stories of a particular sort, and then GLEEFULLY say...
Man, you guys are dumb.
And whether Kevin, and a whole lotta you guys, are so hypocritically screwy it is a wonder you piss in a straight line.

That will do for a start. I got tired of copying and pasting, since most of what you wrote in this thread is either willfully inaccurate or a deliberate lie.

"But it IS a major problem for progressives that we are perceived to reflexively believe the worst about our military."

Why is that a "major problem" when it is not even remotely true? The only "problem" here is that you seem to believe your own bullshit.

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

"LOL -- it just gets worse and worse, doesn't it?"

Yup, because you just keep digging that hole deeper and deeper, and keep babbling away on a topic that none of us cared about then, none of us care about now, and that is completely off-topic and irrelevant to the subject of this thread.

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"One of their guys wrote up some bullshit under a pen name, accusing his unit of serious lapses of discipline. They investigated it. They have a list of sworn statements under oath that none of it ever happened. They cooperated with every news source that I've ever heard of in this incident; it's Beauchamp who won't let TNR see what they've asked for. TNR's response to one guy who asked for something that THEY didn't ask for, is to slur his character."

Every statement in this paragraph is false. Maybe you should actually look into this matter before you make yourself look even more foolish?

Now what was that you were saying, "theAmericanist"?

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

"The ARMY didn't make it difficult for TNR to verify Beauchamp's bullshit."

ROFL.... And another deliberate lie. Man, you just don't know when to quit, do you? It's clear you know nothing about the Beauchamp case, nothing about what any of here thinks of it, nothing about the latest NRO case which is, after, the topic of this thread.

So tell me ... why are you here again?

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"That's because he asked for it and TNR didn't, which TNR doesn't mention."

ROFL.... And another deliberate lie, this time from one of our usual trolls. Geez, guys, can't you be bothered to actually keep the facts straight?

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Cuz you guys are pissing away our credibility on bigger matters that count for more."

No, dear, we aren't. You, on the other hand....

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Take yer pick: are you a pure hypocrite, a denialist, too shamed to speak up, or just too dumb to realize that trying to change the subject is why the barb just goes deeper?"

ROFLMAO.... Oh, the irony.... I wonder if our dear chum realizes just how well he has described himself? Project much?

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB, the Andrew Sullivan post that Kevin's post linked to ends by saying: "The alleged factual inaccuracy - reporting 4,000 Hezbollah gunmen when they didn't exist - dwarfs any alleged incident Beauchamp reported for TNR."

Kevin agreed: "The Smith affair will undoubtedly get less traction, despite his errors being considerably graver than Beauchamp's",

From the get-go, this post was a comparison of the two errors.

Bruce Moomaw wrote (to the Americanist): At this point, by the way, you'll pardon me for concluding that your references to having liberal sympathies are approximately as believable as O.J.'s determination to pursue the real killers.

For Bruce, it seems that "liberal sympathies" means favoring liberal people rather than favoring liberal principles.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 2, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, anyone pretending that NRO is handling this better than TNR hasn't actually read NRO. Glenn Greenwald nails them to the wall on this:

Rather than acknowledging any errors in a clear and straightforward way, National Review chose late Friday afternoon to raise this matter -- the favored time period of politicians to dump embarrassing stories, when as few people as possible will see it -- in the form of a mealy-mouthed, self-justifying "Editor's Note" from Kathryn Jean Lopez. Lopez apologizes to readers on the ground that "NRO should have provided readers with more context and caveats in some posts from Lebanon this fall," but never says what those caveats should have been or what the missing context was.
Instead, Lopez just relies upon vague cliches that say nothing. She claims, for instance, that she reached these conclusions about Smith's posts "after doing a thorough investigation of some of the points made in some of those posts," but she never identifies a single specific fact which this supposed "investigation" revealed or what "some of those points" were that need correction, nor does she identify a single step which this supposed "investigation" entailed.
The bulk of Lopez's post is devoted to paying homage to Smith's virtue ("Smith did commendable work in Lebanon earlier this year"; "I thank Smith for his good, brave work"; "He's a smart, reliable reporter with a great patriotic spirit and sense of service"; "It's understandable how it happened -- the nature of blogging being what it is"). And she ends her post by complimenting NRO's handling of this embarrassment, hailing all the "due diligence" they supposedly did, even though one would have absolutely no idea reading her Editor's Note what the issues even are and what inaccuracies were in Smith's reports.
Worse, Lopez's self-justification was accompanied by a defiant self-defense from Smith himself, who confines his acknowledgment of error only to a conditional non-retraction ("If I mistakenly conveyed that impression to my readers, I apologize"). While Lopez claims that all sorts of (unspecified) added context and clarity was needed, Smith largely suggests the opposite, defending -- even praising -- his original stories as legitimate: "I would say I was justified in believing not only my sources, but also my own eyes in this case."
Most notably, Smith is writing about all of this now only because an unnamed journalist contacted him and NRO to ask about this brewing scandal. Most damning of all, Smith, in his post, continuously references the "critics" and "detractors" of his stories without bothering to identify a single one of them, let alone link to what they said in exposing his fabrications, and neither does Lopez. In fact, nobody reading Smith or Lopez's posts would really have any idea what the allegations against Smith even are. Both his and Lopez's statements are clearly designed to conceal and bury this story, not to clarify what the fabrications are.
...
To all of these excellent points, I want to add two issues. First, National Review did not merely help to fuel the Beauchamp outrage against TNR; they were one of the leading instigators of the months-long lynch mob. They repeatedly posted one self-righteous attack on TNR after the next over what they insisted was TNR's reckless, even deliberate, deceit. They re-printed a vicious anti-TNR rant by Charles Krauthammer, first published in The Washington Post, in which Krauthammer accused TNR of publishing the Beauchamp stories only because "it fits perfectly into the most virulent narrative of the antiwar Left."

And, of course, the silliness of the "antiwar Left" attacks on TNR was that TNR was virulently pro-war! Now what was someone saying about "hypocrisy"?

Posted by: PaulB on December 2, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

PB, even for these threads, that's pretty pitiful.

Here's how it works. Somebody says something like: "One of their guys wrote up some bullshit under a pen name, accusing his unit of serious lapses of discipline. They investigated it. They have a list of sworn statements under oath that none of it ever happened. They cooperated with every news source that I've ever heard of in this incident; it's Beauchamp who won't let TNR see what they've asked for. TNR's response to one guy who asked for something that THEY didn't ask for, is to slur his character."

You get to say, that's bullshit. But to actually PERSUADE anybody that, as you said, "every statement in this paragraph is false... you actually have to KNOW what the truth is, and show how it is different from what I said.

You're a worthless piece of shit, so I will only cite a couple examples.

"One of their guys wrote up some bullshit under a pen name, accusing his unit of serious lapses of discipline. They investigated it. They have a list of sworn statements under oath that none of it ever happened."

Beauchamp was (is) in the Army, thus "one of their guys."

"under a pen name"

Hey, you don't like it from me, here's what Foer says about it: "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."

"They investigated it."

Ask Kevin to send you the link to the Army's investigation. Take particular note of the long list of named individuals who have sworn statments that Beauchamp's stories never happened.

"it's Beauchamp who won't let TNR see what they've asked for."

Foer again: "since August, we've asked him, first though his wife and lawyer and later via direct e-mail and phone calls, to personally obtain the sworn statements that the military had him draft and sign on July 26. And, ever since then, he has promised repeatedly to do just that. We are, unfortunately, still waiting."

What an asshole you are, PB.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

TNR made some mistakes with Beauchamp, and they deserve flak for it. But Foer's piece makes clear a couple of things. First, they spent a lot of time trying to run down the accuracy of Beauchamp's first-person account. Second, the Army did everything it could to keep them from doing it. -- Kevin

Nobody here really "defended" Beauchamp. What we did was point out that we didn't know the truth and neither did his accusers at that time. -- PaulB

You guys ought to apply for work at Bob Jones University. Reading these excuses reminds me of the "perfesser" at said institution who got caught red-handed spreading rumors about John McCain's black kid... His response was like your's - well, we couldn't prove it wasn't true.

Posted by: mr. insensitive on December 2, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to jump on Kevin for not mentioning the TNR story until he could lump it in with the Smith story. Never mind that Smith's subject (Hezb. in Lebanon) is not exactly as controversial or shocking as Beauchamp's "war makes soldiers crazy" stories.

But then I read to end to see this:

"Beauchamp may not be a choir boy in all this, but the Army comes out looking a lot worse."

That's pretty rotten Kevin and it takes a particular devotion to Foer's opus to see things that way. That your take away is to call of the Army to be investigated is as telling as it is disappointing.

Great work as always, Americanist.

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 2, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Simple answers to simple questions: No and No.

Posted by: digitusmedius on December 2, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

The facts, it seems, keep tripping up Americanist and company. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/12/they-knew-his-w.html

Mitchell Prothero, a Beirut photo-journalist, says here that Kathryn-Jean Lopez was informed of the inaccuracies in W. Thomas Smith Jr's 'reporting' from Lebanon more than six weeks ago and did nothing about it. Greenwald now has the same account from Prothero and Chris Allbritton. The late-Friday Lopez and Smith posts therefore occurred 'only once a reporter began calling around to ask about the brewing scandal. Such foot-dragging behavior in the face of outright fabrications published by their magazine is the opposite of a forthright and honest retraction.'

"Indeed, as someone might say. Unlike Beauchamp, who was never employed as a blogger by TNR, W. Thomas Smith Jr still writes a blog for NRO."

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/12/when-did-lopez.html :

"In her latest post to address the concerns about her unintentionally publishing fabrications by W. Thomas Smith Jr, National Review Online's Kathryn-Jean Lopez writes, rather broadly: 'And for the record: Questions were brought to my attention in November and we addressed them in November.'

"So they were raised November 29 and she addressed them November 30? Or November 1 and November 30? Since the fact in question - an alleged swarm of 5,000 Hezbollah militia members - is not that hard to rebut, I assume it came late in the month. But Mitchell Prothero emailed me to say that this was brought to Lopez's attention 'more than six weeks ago.' I guess this can be cleared up by a few stored emails -- and the difference between, say, four weeks ago and six weeks ago is not that big a deal. But it sure isn't an 'immediate' response as some bloggers, i.e. Michelle Malkin, have asserted in NRO's defense. So when exactly was Lopez first informed of the accusations; and did she post a retraction only after Tom Edsall called to ask about the matter?

"Meanwhile: 'We are taking a look at the Smith archive and will give you a full assessment in the coming days because we owe that to our readers.'

"Developing ..."

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/12/nro-fabulist-up.html :

"As I've said, I don't think Beauchamp has emerged as a reporter with credibility, and assigning his wife as his fact-checker was a terrible decision. But as an active-duty soldier, controlled by his superiors, he was not as available as Smith is or was; the small factual assertions of incidents which are unremarkable among soldiers in wartime were nothing like as checkable as the idea that 5,000 Hezbollah soldiers were marching on Beirut; and TNR has now produced a 6,000 word, nostra culpa and explanation. Neither writer is at this point defensible, I'm afraid. But only one is still used as a blogger and described by his editor as 'reliable'."

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 2, 2007 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

For the clowns above Andrew Sullivan suggests that the idiots at National Review have behaved in exactly the manner they claimed with regards to the Thomas stories. But rather than deal with the obvious lies told by a partisan intent on increasing unrest theClownist and Mr. Moron think the thread should be about something else. Anything else. Certainly not how the National Review has been ignoring the evidence of their reporter's confabulations for six weeks.

We know for certain that the National Review stories were out and out lies. For all his bluster all theClownist can do is rely on inferences and the solid reputation of the same guys who have (oddly and repeatedly) failed to find civilian casualties when dropping bombs on random Iraqis. Given theClownist's demonstrable inability to read and Mr. Moron's dedication to the perversion of the truth we aren't really fighting a fair fight (though, to be fair, the descriptions could be reversed for those two without any loss of factual accuracy).

Oh, and theClownist? When your supporters include the phenomenally dishonest Hack, you can pretty much be certain you are on the side of the idiots.

Posted by: heavy on December 2, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Heavy,

We'll have to wait and see on the timeline, but it's pretty clear that NRO dealt with the issue swifter, clearer, and more straightforwardly than TNR did. And they managed to do it without issuing a 10,000 word manifesto.

Smith lied about the sources for his story, claiming he saw what others actually described to him. His credibility is severely damaged if not completely destroyed and I certainly will treat his as such from now on. Too bad, as I enjoyed his blog, but that's the deal. But you seem to dismiss the entire stories as out and out lies which means, I take it, that you dismiss the notion of Hezbollah's role and influence in and around Beirut for example. I can't believe you would seriously do this, as there has been ample reporting from a wide range of sources on this (start with Totten for example). None of this excuses Smith's lying about what he saw, but I think it is important to bear in mind that the broader story (Hezbollah's role in Lebanon) is all too real.

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 2, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

No you ignorant Hack, The National Review has done a marvelous job of convincing the easily convinced that they have done something honorable. Instead they have effectively done what you just did - pretended that the stories are effectively true and that only small embellishments have been made. Now, from the actual facts available on the Thomas stories (the ones where the full force of the military was brought to bear in order to ensure no full airing of the facts will be possible) that may well be the case. The Smith stories, on the other hand are obvious fabrications designed for the express purpose of generating ill-will in and towards the Middle East.

Certainly there is an organization using the name "Army of God" (and, quite the coincidence, we have one here too), and certainly cities exist in the Middle East. But if that's the level you require to believe in the factual accuracy of your reading material you should be warned that those Tom Clancy novels are, in fact, fiction. Really. Also, the White House has never been blown up by aliens, and, saddest of all I'm sure, there is no Little Orphan Annie.

Smith was, and is, a fabulist. He has all the credibility of theClownist or your garden variety Hack. Even the ridiculous Malkin has admitted this.

Posted by: heavy on December 2, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

heavy sez: "theClownist and Mr. Moron think the thread should be about something else..."

The first post in this thread: "Waiting for Captain Ed, Michelle Malkin and all the others who jumped on TNR for the Beauchamp debacle to comment.... crickets chirping.
Posted by: Teresa on December 1, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK "

The close of Kevin's previous post about National Review's fuckup: "Whether the New Republic will be so charitable remains to be seen."

So where'd ya get the idea that those of us who saw through Beauchamp early brought him into this?

Do tell us, Heavy: your (ahem) reputation for fairness and integrity depends on it.

Ya know -- I'm as mean as anybody to folks who express dumb opnions, noting that this marks 'em as stooopid. So I don't object to what is sometimes misconstrued as ad hominem attacks, although technically, as when I observe that Dice has been educated beyond his intelligence (f'r instance) that's not actually an attack on HIM, so much as it is on whatever dumbass argument he's just made. That is, I never say 'that point isn't worth considering, cuz of WHO made it'. (Rather, I say that argument is so stooopid only somebody dumb as X could make it, or that Dice ain't worth engaging... cuz his arguments are so dumb.)

It's different when I observe of Paul B "You're a worthless piece of shit, so I will only cite a couple examples" from his claim that every statement in a graf I wrote is a lie -- cuz I actually posted quotes that back up what I said, where he simply repeated his claim as if it is self-evident: of COURSE I must be a liar -- I disagree with you guys.

So I notice over and over again that obviously true observations and sound arguments aren't so much considered, much less rejected here for their lack of soundness or their falsity, as simply dimissed because "they" said it.

How could anybody believe Confederate Yankee? What kind of tool could imagine that the US ARMY, of all organizations, might have rules about sworn statements? (BTW -- Beauchamp had more rights and protections in the Army investigation than he would had in any civilian proceeding.) But, hey: the folks who know stuff like that disagree, so who could place any credence in THEM?

Has it never occurred to y'all not only what an incredible blind spot that is, but ALSO that it is essentially a confession of weakness?

For folks who aren't emotionally committed to... well, whatever the hell you're hiding even from yourselves, recognizing that Beauchamp was full of shit and TNR was dumb to publish his stuff isn't exactly a wrenching call, either intellectually or morally. It's simply not much of a dilemma.

So we're easy about calling National Review full of shit for running Smith's story, but not particularly exercised over it.

And (as the first post in this thread shows), neither are the same wingnuts who were properly called out to apply the SAME standards to National Review that they had criticized TNR for failing. Teresa wanted to know when Malkin would smack National Review... and she's done it, I hear. (I don't read her.) The right wing sites I do read haven't been shy to call out National Review for fucking up on this one.

It's only you guys who have trouble with applying the same standards to everybody. Clearly, something about this hits closer to home -- and it's not cuz TNR was a cheerleader for the war, certainly.

That's why it is so weirdly telling that Kevin wants the ARMY to be investigated -- for what?

Just take that one, small window into this mess -- and look at the glass: here this guy is, a soldier in a war zone. He makes up bullshit stories about his unit, sells 'em to a magazine under a pseudonym. Once published, they're immediately recognized for the bullshit they are (which the editors should have caught BEFORE they were published, but then, the guy has a personal relationship with the 'factchecker').

Because of the seriousness of the breakdown in discipline in Beauchamp's stories (I hope those of you who don't regard wearing piece of a kid's skull as a yamulke as a breach of discipline aren't Army captains -- or schoolteachers), the Army promptly called in the guys in Beauchamp's unit. Each and every one said the stories were bullshit. Under oath.

TNR wasn't just caught with their pants down -- they'd let this guy (and his girlfriend, now his wife) paint dayglow targets on their educated asses and were walking around Dupont Circle with a blindfold on.

So -- TNR floundered. They bitched that SOME of Beauchamp's unit hadn't been interviewed -- where were THEY, huh?

It is just astonishing that not once in all of this, has anybody associated with TNR or their defenders sorta stepped up to the notion that: this is a unit of American soldiers in a WAR. They just might have more important things to do than pull TNR's editorial pants back up.

It comes back to craft -- and character. Foer buried the lede. The first six of his 7,000 words should have been: "We cannot stand by these stories." The rest would have followed much more effectively.

For Kevin to glower that the ARMY has some 'xplaining to do, is just pitiful: it's Beauchamp, not the Army, who controls whether those sworn statements are released. Since they exonerate the Army AND his comrades (so noted in the Army's investigation), they have no interest in keeping 'em private: but Beachamp does.

And guess what? Foer helpfully explains that Beauchamp is the one refusing to release 'em.

Note: none of that is an attack on the sources. I even cite Foer against his own case (cuz, in fact, his own actions condemn him.)

Why DO you guys delude yourselves so?


Posted by: theAmericanist on December 2, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw: We'll have to wait and see on the timeline, but it's pretty clear that NRO dealt with the issue swifter, clearer, and more straightforwardly than TNR did.

Hardly. NRO has been sitting on this for weeks hoping it would go away. TNR responded to NRO's inquiry from Goldfarb within a day--a day after "Shock Troops" was published. Lopez never responded to inquiries over six weeks ago.

TNR gave a painfully detailed accounting. Lopez provides platitudes and generalizations. So "blogging being what it is", is Smith a reporter or a blogger? Should take everything he says with a large grain of salt? What "context and caveats" should NRO have been provided? Was anything fact checked--which would have been trivial? What basis is there to believe things will be better in the future? Lopez doesn't say.

What's clear is that the NRO has not "dealt with the issues" in any meaningful way, other than to try and dodge them.

Posted by: has407 on December 2, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

The ubermensch K Lo has the ultimate excuse for this: Arabs are habitual liars. I am not making this up. Go to her site.

I am surprised that the NRO boys did not accuse the TNR editors of being driven by the Jews' emphasis on making money.

Posted by: gregor on December 2, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

(basically anything) posted by theAmericanist: bullshit..misrepresentation..more bullshit...somewhat insane raving...further bullshit..something about imaginary friends...more misrepresentation..paranoid rambling..

tA, I don't mean this as an insult, but you really need to see a psychiatrist. There's something wrong with you.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 2, 2007 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

I can always count on an intense both-sides-throwing-shit-at-each-other-contest often on this blog. And again, the yahoos on both sides take the bait. And again, it is a case of your blogger/reporter is more of a sleazeball/fuckwad than mine is. Anyone who says otherwise is a lying moron.

Give me a fucking break! News flash, People! Both TNR & NRO screwed the pooch by making no attempt to verify what they published, taking too long after the fact to do so, then printing weak "it's everyone else's fault" retractions. If it is wrong for one side to do something, it is equally wrong for both. Case Closed!

It tickles me when someone like NRO gets it wrong & gets nailed to the wall because of it, because it helps discredit those who oppose my views somewhat. But it royally pisses me off when someone like TNR, whose views are closer to mine, do it because their dishonesty harms the credibility of causes I care about. And if you think it doesn't, click the link ex lib offered to the comments section over at TNR & read the first 50 or so as I did. These respondents are obviously their readers, & they are universally upset.

BTW, there is a postcript to the Scott Beauchamp story. Given the choice of returning to the states or returning to his unit in Iraq, he chose to stay. I respect him for that, because this is a sign of taking responsibility for his actions & being man enough to face & work with those he'd dishonored previously. That took guts. I wonder how many of us have that kind of courage in us? I also wonder how many of us would give him the chance to atone for his mistakes by working with him?

Posted by: bob in fla on December 2, 2007 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

To Americanist:

Dude I am embarrased for you. I know you are doing your damndest to try and save your own side from themselves; but those lemmings are determined to leap off the cliff of reality and into the void of their own self-delusions.

This development reminds me of the whole Dan Rather implosion over the Texas Air National Guard phony-documents fiasco. Sad, sad, sad.

Posted by: Brad on December 3, 2007 at 5:16 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorta curious just how this could remind you of the Rather documents.

The rap on them was more or less that they were (or could have been) real, but that they looked like replicas of real documents that had been recreated later, or something. Bush's defenders shifted focus to the credibility of the documents, rather than what was important. The important idea that I defended (to the extent anybody could say anything clean about the mess) was that Bush had clearly used political influence to get in the Guard, and then blown off his obligations, notably by ditching a drug test.

Just HOW is this remotely like that? LOL -- I suppose you could have meant your actual implication that Beauchamp's defenders are making the same mistake as those who defended the Rather documents, but since that is consistent with my argument, and you attacked me, I doubt you meant what you said.

Grape: you can't say a SINGLE substantive thing, but I'm the one who's bonkers? Hell, I've had, what, seven posters attack me personally without even ONE offering a substantive 'you said this but Foer/Kevin/we said that' rebuttal?

I've shown you HOW, after all. Go on, take a shot.

I suppose it could be valid to say, gee, this guy cares more about the TNR fiasco, and that guy more about National Review: a matter of taste, about which there can be no dispute.

I spoke to that: I'm not particularly exercised that National Review published a bullshit piece that I paid absolutely no attention to about Lebanon, cuz I don't regard 'em as much of a source about Lebanon. They're not the New York Times or even the Jerusalem Post. It's interesting to me that they fucked up the story, but I don't quite understand why folks regard this in itself as SO significant. Hell, my explanation, Has, why it took 'em weeks to get around to it is that NOBODY NOTICED.

I think TNR is more significant than National Review. It used to move more votes worth moving. (National Review didn't save Jim Crow, after all -- and lord, they tried.)

Contrast, f'r instance, McGaughey's piece "No Exit" in 1993? in TNR about the Clinton health care plan, published when Sullivan was editor. It was a cover piece, very influential, marked the turning point for the Clinton plan amongst the elite Left -- and it was based on a false premise. The whole damned thing was wrong.

THAT was a significant error. Smith's was bad journalism, but significant? Not so much.

The significance of the Beauchamp fiasco is that progressives are generally perceived (with some reason) for being too quick to believe the worst about our military.

You doubt that perception exists? Pull your head out of your ass: Look at the half-dozen posts in this thread alone, like heavy's complaint about "the terrorist bombing of Baghdad" that try to excuse Beauchamp and TNR for making up crap about a soldier wearing a piece of a kid's skull on his head like a yamulke, because civilians have been killed by American bombing in Iraq. Is it true that we've killed civilians? Of course. Does that make Beauchamp's bullshit true? No. Would believing falsehood make it easier to believe the truth about our bombing? No.

Do you REALLY think noticing THAT bit of psychological displacement denotes mental illness, there, grape?

I know it's more or less impossible for you folks, but honest, it helps to take a second to think about stuff like this from the other side, as if you DIDN'T have so much irrationally invested in it: WE'RE not the TNR editors who let the factchecker's boyfriend tell made-up stories in our magazine.

Were these stories checked out enough before being published? TNR now says no, they weren't.

Guess what? That's exactly what critics said as soon as they appeared. How's that nuts, Grape?

When they finally DID start to check 'em out, AFTER they were published, DID they check out? TNR now says, er, no. They can't be verified.

Guess what? That's exactly what critics said. How's that nuts, Grape?

Does TNR regret publishing 'em? Yes, they do. Some of us said they would, MONTHS ago. Just how is that nuts?

Compare Kevin's preemptive defense of TNR, his prediction ""Like a Kabuki story, though, you can already see how this is going to play out. Not only will Thomas's character be dragged savagely through the mud ... but eventually some small part of Thomas's account will turn out to be slightly exaggerated and... "

With Patterico's back in October: "Where I suspect this is headed is simple: the editors can’t hide forever. Sooner or later they are going to have to address this. And if they can’t get something solid from Beauchamp, then they are going to have to retract the story."

That's what they've done. Which prediction is accurate?

That you guys won't simply observe that Patterico and other TNR critics were right, and Kevin (and you) were wrong, is a mark against your character.

That you can't see that which has been proven TRUE, though, is a serious delusion.

God forbid it has the political consequences next year that it could have; I'm tired of assholes winning national office cuz progressives are dumb as doorknobs.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 3, 2007 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Heavy,

It was pretty clear from my original post but I'll reiterate it for you. Smith clearly lied about his sources and his credibility is shot for it. NRO came out within weeks of questions being raised and came clean (even though I think the "provided readers with more context and caveats in some posts" line is giving Smith more cover than he deserves). I thought your comments went beyond criticism of Smith's specifics (200 Hezbollah in a tent city) and dismissed the body of his remarks about Hezbollah and its role in Lebanon.

Your subsequent reply to me seems to once again dismiss the notion of Hezbollah as a negative force in Lebanon ("Certainly there is an organization using the name "Army of God" (and, quite the coincidence, we have one here too), and certainly cities exist in the Middle East")(comparing the notion of a harmful Hezbollah to aliens attacking the White House or Little Orphan Annie). If that is what you believe, then I submit it is you who has the difficulty in determining factual accuracy in whatever it is you are reading. Or smoking.

Has407,

According to NRO today, the question was raised and responded to in November. And revealed to the readers on December 1. In TNR's case, the issue was public to begin with so they had to publicly address it. NRO made the point to put this out on their own as far as I can tell. According to the narrative as we currently know it, a reporter contacted NRO in November raising questions about specifics in Smith's articles, NRO looked into it, and on Saturday announced the issue and their finding to their readers. So its just not true to claim NRO sat on this for 6 weeks or that they never responded to inquiries. Just the opposite is what actually happened.

The reason TNR needed a 10,000 page manifesto was that, rather than come clean as NRO did, they spent months defending, obfuscating, and lying about what was going on.

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 3, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Why DO you guys delude yourselves so?"

ROFLMAO.... Oh, the irony....

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

"You guys ought to apply for work at Bob Jones University. Reading these excuses reminds me of the 'perfesser' at said institution who got caught red-handed spreading rumors about John McCain's black kid..."

ROFLMAO.... Dear heart, you do realize that by resorting to pathetic ad hominem attacks like this that you're demonstrated that you cannot handle the facts of this case? This is what I wrote at the time, dear:

This is precisely why the left side of the blogosphere is watching the right side with much bemusement. We neither know, nor care much, whether Beauchamp is telling the truth. What we do know is that the objections being raised are mostly silly ones from people who have no idea what they are talking about.

Do tell me where in that paragraph I was "defending" Beauchamp, won't you?

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"NRO looked into it, and on Saturday announced the issue and their finding to their readers."

Really? So they have revealed precisely which stories, facts, and accounts were false? And Smith has revealed precisely which stories, facts, and accounts were false? And has apologized for lying? And is no longer working for NRO?

In short, and as usual, you're quite wrong. Lopez' note quite specifically did not "reveal their findings." You can piece together some of the bullshit from Smith's non-apology but not all of it. The story is not over and NRO has not handled it well at all.

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Grape: you can't say a SINGLE substantive thing, but I'm the one who's bonkers?"

ROFL.... And, again, the irony.... Dear heart, you haven't said a single substantive thing in this entire thread. You can't get your facts right and you've issued attack after ad hominem attack, all of them complete bullshit. Were you planning to contribute something substantive anytime soon?

"Hell, I've had, what, seven posters attack me personally without even ONE offering a substantive 'you said this but Foer/Kevin/we said that' rebuttal?"

Dear heart, you're the one flinging all of the wild accusations, not one of which you've been able to back up. We haven't needed to do anything but point out that you're full of shit.

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Lord, you ARE a worthless sack of shit, aren't you, PB?

"We neither know, nor care much, whether Beauchamp is telling the truth."

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 3, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

"The significance of the Beauchamp fiasco is that progressives are generally perceived (with some reason)"

And another bullshit statement that you cannot back up. The statement is flatly incorrect and yet you continue to propagate it. Why?

"for being too quick to believe the worst about our military."

Again, the statement is complete bullshit and you cannot substantiate it.

"You doubt that perception exists? Pull your head out of your ass:"

Dear heart, the "perception" exists because people like you feed it. What we're pointing out is that the "perception" is completely and totally false.

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Lord, you ARE a worthless sack of shit, aren't you, PB?"

ROFLMAO.... Dear heart, from you I'll take that as a compliment.

Why are you bothered by that simple statement of fact? The worse-case scenario was that Beauchamp was a garden-variety fabulist. Why should I care about someone I didn't know, writing stories that were completely irrelevant, for a magazine that is justifiably heading for extinction, that few people read, and fewer still care about?

The real story in the Beauchamp mess was the hissy fit that you, along with others on the right, were throwing. And the only reason that any significant number of people even heard about Beauchamp is because of those hissy fits! Even today, I suspect that 95% or more of the people in the U.S. have never even heard about Beauchamp, much less remember what it is that he is supposed to have done. And I was supposed to get all hot and bothered about it? Why?

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

It is interesting that theAmericanist has so much time on his hands to reply to an online article and comments by others. One has to wonder if he is being paid for his efforts.

His supposed "liberal sympathies" appear to be those of the renowned concern troll type; "I'm really one of you guys but don't you think that was a LEETLE bit over the top. Now if we were more like those other guys, everything would be all better in the world and everyone would find a pony in that pile of equine manure.

theAmericanist wrote
1 He's already admitted that the central premise (that combat made him cruel) is false: he mocked the wounded veteran before he had seen combat, if the incident happened at all.
Yes, he did admit that fact

2 ...they went back to "re-report" 'em. If they were fact checked so well in the first place, why was that necessary? Beacause the TNR editors are liberal wimps and were afraid of the raging hordes of the right blogosphere.

3 They had 'checked out' Beauchamp's stories with the expert THEY had picked (and cited) without, yanno, actually showing him the article with the claims he was supposed to be vouching for. When he read the article, he said: no way
Really, prove it by providing a cite

4 The ARMY didn't make it difficult for TNR to verify Beauchamp's bullshit. ROFLMFAO
Col Steven Boylan, well known Christian prevaricator - just Google him and you'll see what I mean,
"We are not preventing [Beauchamp] from speaking to TNR or anyone."

TNR "After we had posted an online statement explaining that we had been unable to communicate with Beauchamp--who, according to Reeve, was under orders not to speak with us--and pleading with the Army to make him available to us, General David Petraeus's spokesman, Steven Boylan, told the Standard, "We are not preventing [Beauchamp] from speaking to TNR or anyone." One of our editors called Boylan's office on a near-daily basis to set up a phone call with Beauchamp; every time, they told us they were working on our request. After several weeks, we stopped hearing back from them. The Army later confirmed to us that it had, indeed, prevented Beauchamp from speaking."

5 For another, the Army has sworn statements from a very long list of named soldiers that establish Beauchamp is full of shit.

TNR "The following Monday, September 10, the conservative blogger Confederate Yankee posted an interview with Major John Cross, the executive officer of Beauchamp's battalion who led the official Army investigation. This surprised us: We had repeatedly requested to speak to someone with substantive information on the investigation and were never told of Cross's availability. After reading the exchange with Confederate Yankee, we booked time with him later in the week.

In our interview, surprisingly, Cross bolstered Beauchamp's credibility. He stated that Beauchamp had never recanted, flatly refuting what Goldfarb and others reported. In fact, he agreed that Beauchamp had carefully crafted his signed statements in an attempt to avoid contradictions. And he admitted that, in his investigation, he had neglected to interview a substantial portion of Beauchamp's platoon.

Then there were the underlying facts of the case. Even though he argued the events in Beauchamp's articles never happened, Cross conceded that bones were found in the area surrounding Beauchamp's combat outpost. He guessed that the bones came from animal carcasses. Bradleys, he told us, unintentionally hit dogs. Indeed, dogs flock toward Bradleys. We weren't sure what to make of these statements.

Was Beauchamp a liar? we asked.

"Well, I can't state, you know, when you talk about lying, it's making a statement, oral or written, with the intent to deceive. What I did, like I said before, was check into the veracity of the allegations made."

I haven't read the Beauchamp essays but what I get from all this screaming and shouting is that the right blogosphere seems to think that ANY criticism or critical articles about the American military is a plot by the One World Govt/ Commy / pinkos of the 'secular progressive' movement to destroy the United States. The excerpts and commentary should be read as those of one young soldier writing about what he knows - which is his own experiences and those of the GIs around him. I do not see his writings as an attack on the whole of the American military, and in fact I don't read them as an attack on even his own unit.

Remember "... a few bad apples.." at Abu Ghraib?

Posted by: Somerville on December 3, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and TA, dear, what you're ignoring in your triumphal crowing about your own forecasting prowess in the Beauchamp affair is that this was just one of literally dozens of attacks from the right over the past few years, all of which were totally (and usually offensively) wrong. Why should we have assumed that the Beauchamp affair was going to be any different than those other dozens of times they cried wolf, particularly when their early attacks on Beauchamp (he doesn't exist! he isn't a soldier! you can't do that in a Bradley!) were so blatantly false?

I spoke the truth in my July comment quoted above: we just didn't care about Beauchamp. We weren't supporting him or defending him, nor were we supporting or defending TNR (which has been a rabidly pro-war publication for the past several years); we were just pointing out that most of his critics were loony and their criticisms completely false. Those statements of ours were completely and totally accurate and I can and do still stand by every one of my own statements today.

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

"What an asshole you are, PB."

ROFL.... Thank you, dear.

Posted by: PaulB on December 3, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw -- This was brought to NRO's attention over six weeks ago--and not by random bloggers--with no response until others picked it up (see here and here).

Posted by: has407 on December 3, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

never mind... I see Kevin just put up a post on it from one of the original sources.

Posted by: has407 on December 3, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB,

I think they have "revealed precisely which stories, facts, and accounts were false? And Smith has revealed precisely which stories, facts, and accounts were false? And has apologized for lying?" At least with regard to the 200 and 4,00-5,000 items. I don't think they addressed the other issue of being the first American to a camp, that Kevin's new post linked to. Should he be fired? Well I'm not sure what good keeping a non-credible writer around will be so I suspect that may yet happen. But I think you sell K-Lo short in terms of what NRO has said about Smith - they acknowledged the questions, stated his errors, and apologized for them. I think NRO will need to do a bit more to close the story out but they have come clean about the issue and what is left is the resolution (i.e. will Smith be fired).

has407,

My comments were clearly linked to the narrative as we currently knew it. Now the timeline seems to have moved from 4-6 weeks to a more definitive "since Oct. 6, 2007". However, as far as I can tell, you are wrong to state that NRO had no response until others picked it up. Both blogs you linked to were written AFTER NRO put up its post on Smith. Now maybe NRO knew they were about to run it and went public to preempt the stories but we don't know that. The current narrative as we know it has NRO learning there were questions about Smith back to Oct. 6, 2007 and them disclosing this and the results of their review on Dec. 1, 2007. Without any of the prevarication, denial, accusations, or lying TNR used in the months and months of the Beauchamp scandal.

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 3, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

It took more than two months and almost 1,000 words, but National Review Online and its copy editor, Kathryn Jean Lopez, have finally retracted several pieces by corrupt blogger W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

As most of the blog world (with the exception of Washington Post media czar Howie Kurtz) knows by now, National Review Online published a series of pieces on Lebanon by corrupt blogger W. Thomas Smith Jr., who identified himself as a devout, South Carolina-based Conservative and former Marine. Smith, who called himself a bit of "Cowboy," and proudly trumpeted his after all, theft of "a Hezbollah flag while I was there. Was that Thomas the journalist snagging the flag? Hardly. That was Thomas the Marine. And that's part of who I am, which I suppose makes me part cowboy. But that’s something my detractors will just to have to live with, because that’s not going to change."

Smith, who was in Lebanon to monitor the activities of Hezbollah, further made clear that his observers were not independent in nature.

"Frankly, I'm not concerned with what Hezbollah assumes. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, funded, trained, and equipped by the Islamic (Iranian) Revolutionary Guard Corps. My responsibility is not to concern myself with how Hezbollah perceives me, nor do I feel any compulsion to court them. They are the enemy as far as I’m concerned. My responsibility is to deliver the facts to my readers, which I have always done and will always do."

Unfortunately, Smith turned out to be a fabulist. Here’s the conclusion of the Lopez’s blog entry, "Mea Culpa, Note for Non-Weekend Readers," that appeared at 10:25 a.m. Dec. 3 at National Review Online:

"A regular freelancer (Smith) for NRO went to Lebanon in September and blogged in 'The Tank' from there. In two instances of which we’re aware, he mislead by not adequately sourcing – making clear he was relying on sources, not his own eyes for a scenes he described. We should have asked more questions. We didn't. A well-intentioned reporter got sloppy. We got sloppy checking on him. We were wrong and I apologize.

"We're taking steps to prevent this in the future – including setting up some very easily found and checked corrective e-mail addresses – so questions about pieces and blogs can be raised in a quick and timely manner.

"I hate that this happened, but I am grateful that it has been brought to our attention. We've apologized for it, and are now taking measures to keep such things from happening in the future."

What is most striking about Lopez's National Review Online piece and Smith's rejoinder is their Cheney-esque quality: grudging and self-justifying in tone and still eager to lash out at their critics even when Smith's fables from Lebanon have been shattered into a thousand pieces. In reading Lopez's piece, you get the sense that she was seething at The Huffington Post and Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan, each of whom has spearheaded coverage on Smith's shoddy journalism and National Review Online's absence of editorial safeguards, and at Smith for having been caught in such a hypocritical series of lies and blatant deceit that can only sully the once-proud House of Buckley.

It turns out, of course, that it was National Review Online's critics, and not Mr. Smith or Ms. Lopez, who were vindicated, and all honor is due to them.

What National Review Online didn’t understand, and still seems unable to grasp, is that they and others saw this for what it was: an effort to use Smith's story to paint an ugly portrait of the situation in Lebanon and of the absence of Middle East policy in the Bush-Cheney Administration. National Review Online sought to further Neoconservative attempts to open U.S. military fronts in Iran, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, and Smith's litany of false pieces hoped to turn people into proponents of additional military action. What has happened, instead, is that the situation in Lebanon fails to follow the Bush-Cheney Neoconservative policy — and each and every one of Smith's National Review Online pieces have utterly collapsed.

This story was a torpedo aimed directly at the hull of National Review Online; the torpedo has now hit its mark. The damage is enormous and Kathryn Jean Lopez's explanation — which contains no formal criticism of W. Thomas Smith, Jr. or, more significantly, no apology to the members of the American military now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan unit — will only compound the damage. What Ms. Lopez called Smith having been "mislead" is really a scandal. And W. Thomas Smith, Jr. will now take his place beside Judith Miller, Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Jeff Gannon in the Neoconservative and Conservative Hall of Perpetual Shame.

That Howie Kurtz neglected to report promptly on this story only further sullies the reputation of Mr. Kurtz and The Washington Post.

Posted by: Mark on December 3, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

"I haven't read the Beauchamp essays" -- Somerville.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 3, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw -- Note the dates; I pointed that out because the information in your post at that time was incorrect. As to the rest... NRO was given an opportunity--before the issue became a blog football--to provide satisfactory answers. They did not (YMMV), and were criticized for it.

That the critics didn't pile on before NRO had their say speaks more to the standards of their critics, and nothing of NRO's editorial veracity. Or would you prefer that the critics pile on first, before the accused has an opportunity to respond?

Posted by: has407 on December 3, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, so I'm lame again: what's YMMV mean?

Yanno, PB proved my point more succinctly than I could: "I spoke the truth in my July comment quoted above: we just didn't care about Beauchamp."

Beauchamp said that American soldiers in combat were joyriding to kill dogs, that they desecrated a mass grave by wearing a kid's skull like a yamulke as a joke, and that combat had made him so hard that he and a pal mocked a wounded comrade -- but this did not move PB.

I keep noting that progressives are perceived (with reason) to be a bit too quick to believe the worst about our military. PB proves it -- either he believed Beauchamp's stories, so he found nothing to care about in 'em; or he didn't believe 'em, but didn't care at all that TNR had slimed the Army.

Your own words prove more than one point I've made here, dude: what a worthless sack of shit you are, PB.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 3, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

has407,

K-Lo said 1 month in her post, you said 6 weeks (based on what was at that time just an assertion by others). Now we have an email that makes it 8 weeks. If you feel so strongly about the 2 weeks difference in your post and mine, well I offer my sincerest apologies for such a grave and consequential error.

You still speak of the NRO critics as though they raised the issue prior to NRO's comments on Smith. I haven't seen anyone who publicly raised these questions prior to the 1st. If they did, and NRO ignored them, you might have a point but I'd like to see an example first.

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 3, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, NRO has their definitive timeline of the Smith issue here

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 3, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw -- The issue was initially raised in early October by Prothero and Allbritton, which appears to have been ignored until Edsall jumped in. (That much we knew yesterday.)

Posted by: has407 on December 3, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

p.s. theAmericanist -- YMMV - your mileage may vary.

Posted by: has407 on December 3, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

(hand smacking forehead)

BTW, somebody should give credit to P.G. Wodehouse for being a. of his t.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 3, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's post is a parody of liberals. The liberal TNR prints a false attack on the army, Kevin stands up for TNR when all evidence points to the stories being false, then when TNR finally gives up the ship on the stories, Kevin attacks the Army.

Posted by: brian on December 3, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Americanist

First off, you're an asshole. Your entire style of argument, as well as the fact that you take 10 paragraphs to make your simpleminded points, makes you one of the most annoying commenters I have read on this site (and no, it's not because you're so infuriatingly correct, so you can back away from the keyboard.) And can you please drop the whole "we progressives" canard? Your comments, and your palpable self regard, clearly reflect the kind of sneering, triumphalist mentality of so many right wing commenters. And the whole "I'm concerned about the Beauchamp story because it reinforces in people's minds how much we progressives hate the troops" meme is so transparent as to be laughable.

As for TNR, I have followed the case, although not obsessively. I read Foer's mea culpa, and I thought it made perect sense. Funny how so many right wingers are claiming that Foer has acknowledged that the stories were false, and criticizing him for not stating that right up front. There's a huge difference between saying "We now know these stories were false" and "we can no longer stand behind the veracity of these stories." In other words, the stories haven't been proven false, but we can't prove that they are true. Surely that can't be too much nuance for someone with your self-professed intellectual powers.

As for the Army, how is it you conitnue to ignore tha fact that TNR repeatedly asked for a response from the Army, and was repeatedly ignored, then the Army provides information to a right wing blogger? Is that your idea of being beyond criticism?

And for someone who says he doesn't spout right wing talking points, there's this: (the Beauchamp controversy) "is about a guy lying about how savage the Iraq War is making the American military." That is a tiresopme right wing talking point that is trotted out whenever anyone writes soemthing negative about the military. How does a soldier wriiting about his experiences automatically equate to beoing a characterization of the entire military? Oh, right, it's because everyone knows "we progressives" hate the troops.

Here's the most laughable part, however. You said "So I don't object to what is sometimes misconstrued as ad hominem attacks..."

See if you can guess the source of these comments:

"Man, you guys are dumb."

"Lord, you ARE a worthless sack of shit, aren't you..."

"Where I come from, this makes you a liar, a fool, or a coward."

"...you're clueless AND gutless."

"(snicker) Howard, you're dumber than I thought you were." (Snicker? Really? I can tell that (sigh) is just around the corner.)

"...I've concluded you're a chickenshit idjit."

"You're a worthless piece of shit.."

"What an asshole you are"

Just imagine how insufferable you would be if you actually engaged in ad hominem attacks.

And by the way, when you use phrases like "Idjit", "cuz", "Take yer pick" do you think this gives your writing some sort of personality or charm?

Posted by: ChrisO on December 4, 2007 at 3:54 AM | PERMALINK

For the record, I live in Beirut, and Smith's stories are bullshit. Whether they're intentional lies or he's just naive and being fed what he wants to hear is really beside the point. In either case, a journalist he is not.

Posted by: sean on December 4, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK
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