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October 24, 2007

Remember: TNR Hid The Existence Of This Phone Call From The World

tnr_masthead_sinking.jpg

We only even knew previously that this phone call had taken place because a source of Confederate Yankee's told him about it.

TNR did not mention it.

Even after it was disclosed, TNR did not comment on it, nor explain their reasons for withholding information about a fiction they had printed as truth.

Reading the transcript, I can see why someone whose reputation and career depended on the story being true could convince himself the story had not been fully recanted. Foer could tell himself, "The guy is evasive, there are officers listening, he can't say anything. So I can't take this as a retraction."

I can see how he could tell himself that.

However, I cannot see where he convinced himself he could hide the existence of the call from the world, nor report to TNR's readers his reasons for doubting the phone call proved anything.

TNR could have said: "A recent phone call with Scott Beauchamp leaves us in a no man's land where Beauchamp will neither re-affirm nor recant the stories to us. We suspect he is worried about his career in the military and possible punishment. He will not say he is, however. Under these circumstances, we must provisionally retract the stories, though we have no firm evidence they are false. But with a compromised writer also unable to affirm they're true, neither can we stand by these stories."

That would have been a (mostly) honest appraisal of the situation, at least from their own need-to-believe point of view.

Instead, however, rather than accurately and honestly describing Beauchamp's complete refusal to affirm the stories as true, and offering their reasons for doubting this refusal to affirm to be conclusive, they instead simply withheld facts in their possession from the world and pretended the call never happened at all.

You can have your own opinions but you can't have your own facts. And you can't willfully hide your own facts, not when you present yourself as a credible, honest journal. TNR could have reported the facts and offered its opinion that the facts were not damning.

But apparently they considered them to be so damning on their face they simply hid the facts altogether.

They cannot claim they needed special authorization to report the call -- they were on the phone and were first-party witnesses to the call. The call itself is not a protected legal document; Foer and Scoblic and others were listening and almost certainly taping it themselves (unless they feared what Beauchamp might say; but either way, they knew what he said). They had no plausible or credible reason not to report the call.

Again, they could have made their arguments as to why they believed the call to be inconclusive. Instead, seeing "inconclusive" as too damning, they simply buried the evidence.

Even the NYT, when confronted with the much less important fabulations of Jayson Blair, stepped up and conducted a full internal investigation and released all the facts -- good, bad, and ugly -- to the world.

TNR, on the other hand, chose to stonewall, obfuscate, and lie. They had highly relevant information about the stories' veracity in their hands. They simply refused to report that information, for fear others might not read the transcripts as generously as they were inclined to.

Heads rolled at the NYT. Heads must roll now.

I Missed This The First Time Around: Foer claims he just wants the truth.

Oh really?

Foer: Ellie sent me an email to tell you that itís the most important thing in the world for her that you say that you didnít recant.


Beauchamp: To say what?


Foer: I think, I donít wanna. . .Youíre obviously in a very uncomfortable position in that your wife is involved in this, and I wish she wasnít involved because I, I.... trust her, I care for her. I donít want her to get hurt in all of this. But she just, she sent me a note to tell you that itís the most important thing to her that you say that you didnít recant. And I donít.. .1 feel that (unintelligible) in saying that to you because it puts me in an awkward position, but itís what she wanted me to convey to you.


Beauchamp: Well, I can tell you that an official Army investigation was done. I cannot be the one to talk to about that, or contact about that. I can get you copies of my sworn statements. And...

So Foer is telling Beauchamp, "I want the straight story, tell me if this is true or not, and oh, by the way, your wife is begging you to not recant and if you do she might 'get hurt in all this'?"

Is this Foer's technique for getting a straight answer out of a interviewee? "If you don't say what I want you to say, people you love will be hurt" ?

More Quotes... At Hot Air. Including the recommendation that Beauchamp be given a "mental health examination."

Allah thinks these docs came from the Army, originally, not TNR. I suppose that's more likely. I figured TNR and not the Army because the Army has been pretty reluctant to comment on this stuff except in a fairly broad manner. But I guess some in the Army have been leaking a bit all along; it's not difficult to believe someone leaked these.

However -- the thing is, there are more documents than the ones shown here. The documents leaked seem to be the ones that Beauchamp himself would have access to, and could release to the lawyer "Gene" at TNR, as he said he would.

I suppose, though, that the Army leaker could have leaked the documents that Beauchamp himself authorized to be released to TNR. After all, if Beauchamp is releasing these to a media organization, he could justify it to himself that they're not quite private as they once had been, eh?

Masthead graphic by "Site Admin" (if that is his real name) at Jessica's Well.


Just For Fun: Maybe we can prod "Scott Thomas" into updating his old (fake) blog, eh?

My mindbrain is full of joyglee.


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posted by Ace at 02:53 PM

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