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August 07, 2007

Franklin Foer Stays on Offense, Accuses Critics of "Smears" and "Reckless Charges"

Edit: The new hed was added as an update to the old one. As the old hed is just plain wrong, and the new one is actually worth reading about, I've switched their order. The old post, with the old hed, appears after the fold.

Freudian Slipping: This is the second time I wrote Foer stays "on office" when I meant "on offense." Actually, writing that a third time, I did it again-- I wrote "I meant 'on office'" yet again before correcting myself.

Franklin Foer remains on office, at least as of last night, accusing the Weekly Standard of a "smear job" against him and his "diarist" and of moving from "one reckless charge to another."

Barnett takes him down.

Let's be clear about this, Frank: There never was actual fact-checking before you ran this piece. You've said as much, by stating you only passed the story around to other journalists to see if it "smelled good." Not if it was factual, and verifiably so, but merely if it was within the limits of plausibility.

That is not "fact"-checking no matter how many times you redefine the term. That is merely plausibility-checking. Or smell-checking.

As I've written before, the scandal was already complete when you published these articles without fact-checking. It didn't matter ultimately if you got lucky and could establish veracity after the fact, because you're supposed to be doing the fact check before publishing, and you didn't. Whether you got lucky or not, you'd already committed the sin that TNR of all magazines ought not to have committed in the first place.

As for the "realist" meme now out there -- that not only do small magazines not fact-check, but neither does the MSM generally, save for a few notable magazines priding themselves on a truly professional and thorough fact-check -- that's all fine and good, and I'm prepared to accept the realistic view of the MSM's inability and disinclination to fact check the very moment they admit this is in fact their practice.

While they continue to maintain that each story is lovingly scrubbed and thoroughly examined by an entire platoon of Law Review geeks who get sexual pleasure out of challenging and questioning the reportage of their stories, then I'm going to continue taking them at their word.

If they insist on maintaining this fiction of fact-checking, I'll play along and pretend too -- and I'll continue pointing out where this much-fabled fact-checking seems not to have occurred at all.

Thanks to CJ for both of those links.

TNR Deletes "Shock Troops"?
It appears Not; Story Is Still There, Findable Via Google

Charles Johnson searches and comes up empty.

I have no faith whatsoever in my search-engine skills, but for what it's worth, the keywords "shock troops" didn't bring the article up.

On the other hand, a search for "baghdad diarist" did reveal an earlier piece, "War Bonds." The one where he claims that a section of Iraq is called "Little Venice" as it's so flooded with sewage it resembles the canal-cut geography of that city. (In fact, Steve Spruiell has noted "Little Venice" refers to an entirely different area due its having.... actual canals.)

Not sure what's going on. The Plank is simply ignoring the entire story, which of course means that management and the editors are trying to puzzle out precisely what to do.

Time-out error? Is the TNR server just getting crushed with requests for the story? Googling "shock troops baghdad" turns the story up as the first (and second) search term; but then clicking on that link gives me time-out errors. Until finally it shows up. The comments eventually show up, too,

I don't know how these things work so I don't know what's going on. The story does still seem to be there, though. Why "shock troops" doesn't register in TNR's search engine I don't know, but then, the search engine for this blog was very balky before it crapped out entirely. Who knows. It's hard to imagine they're trying to hide it, given that the full story is now available without subscription (previously I had to view the cached version; now I can see the actual piece), they seem to be doing the opposite of hiding it.

Besides, hiding it would be stupid. It has to be the most-read piece in the last ten or fifteen years of TNR. (Ironically enough.)

If the story actually does disappear, I trust it would only be for purposes of moving it in preparation of a retraction and apology.

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posted by Ace at 12:47 PM

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