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December 01, 2007

TNR Folds on Beauchamp

Itís a long, long story (14 pages) but Bob Owens (who has done yeomanís work on this story) says theyíve thrown in the towel.

Look for more updates here and at CY as everyone reads it.

UPDATE: I am just now going through the story and this just jumped out, his wife was one of the fact checkers on his stories!

His wife, Reeve, was assigned a large role in checking his third piece. While we believe she acted with good faith and integrity--not just in this instance, but throughout this whole ordeal--there was a clear conflict of interest. At the time, our logic--in hindsight, obviously flawed-

You think?

I don't want to go to much into this stuff because Ace was instrumental in getting some of this stuff out (especially the wife angle) but I'll post a few of the more extreme elements as I run across them for those who can't stand reading it all and leave the heavy thinking to Ace when he unpacks.

Update #2-
Okay, last update because there's just going to be too much. Below the fold, check out the in depth fact checking and what appears plausible to these people regarding the dog incidents and the famous disfigured woman.


Facing the difficulties of verifying the piece, but wanting to ensure its plausibility before publication, we sent the piece to a correspondent for a major newspaper who had spent many tours embedded in Iraq. He had heard accounts of soldiers killing dogs with Bradleys. These accounts stuck with him because they represented a symbolic shift in the war. Iraqis regard dogs as annoying pests. At the beginning of the conflict, Americans made great efforts to befriend these mistreated mutts. It seemed telling that Americans now treated dogs with as little regard as Iraqis did. He considered Beauchamp's dog- hunting anecdote plausible.

But the reporter doubted the tale of the disfigured woman. What would a woman with the disfigurements described by Beauchamp be doing in a war zone? This became the focal point of our fact-checking. We asked Reeve to push Beauchamp for corroboration of this woman's existence. In an e-mail, she relayed his answer (throughout this story, we've withheld the names of soldiers who never gave us permission to use them):

OK, talked to Scott. He said it looked like the lady's injuries were cosmetic, though he had no way of knowing her medical history, of course. I asked him if there was anyone around who had seen her. He was in the tower but he shouted over to his buddy [name withheld], asking if he remembered the woman in the dfac with burns on her face. I heard a guy shout yeah.

I asked Scott to ask [name withheld] to describe her. Scott shouts, "Hey, can you say what you remember that woman looked like?" I heard, "Yeah, I remember that butt-ugly woman in the dfac [dining facility]." So there's that.

Scott said that if he had to guess, the woman was a contractor, and had gone home after her injury and then decided to come back. Her scars looked long- healed. But again, he stressed he had no way of knowing her real story.

Reeve also asked a National Guard medic who had served in Iraq if he had seen burn victims in chow halls. He replied, "[N]ot many ... but a couple."

It's going to take bloggers days to unpack all of this and compare it to what was known earlier and what Foer claimed earlier.

Remember, this isn't necesaarily just about Beauchamp, a solider who apparently tired to earn back the respect of his comrades. It's mostly (to me at least) about Foer and the leftist media that wants to create a narrative of American soldiers as wanton killers like they did after Vietnam. They want to discredit the good work of our military and taint diminish our successes in Iraq.

Not this time guys, not this time.

Okay, really, really last thing.

Iíve read it all now and itís a sad story about people who should have known better but were blinded by their faith in The Narrative. TNR was like Fox Mulder, they wanted to believe. Beauchamp seems to be a young guy who got in over his head. He wanted to be the next great thing and was able to tell just enough truth to everyone so that while they knew they couldnít really believe him, they couldnít dismiss him entirely either.

He was pretty slippery, right up until the moment the whole thing came crashing down on him.

Thatís not to let TNR off the hook at all. They have to have better proof than Ďsome of itís kind of sort of true, probablyí before running the stories they did. These were stories that put American soldiers in the worst possible light and if you are going to do that, you better have it nailed down 6 ways from Sunday.

I am left to wonder why TNR went with Beauchamp. I think it comes back to wanting to believe. He told stories that fit their world view and he came recommended by one of their employees who was a friend and later his wife. But they are supposed to be reporters and editors, you know, curious people. Why didnít the fact that Beauchampís stories were so far beyond what anyone was else was writing in the blogosphere or MSM raise some alarm bells? Again, they wanted to believe.

So hereís the thing Franklin and the rest of the TNR crewÖthere are a lot of milbloggers out there who are telling great stories. Stories about the good, the bad and the ugly of war but most importantly true stories. How about you give one or two of them some space in your precious magazine? Trust me they arenít hard to find. Iíve got a bunch in my bookmarks and I can probably get a whole bunch more with one post here. God knows Bob Ownes, the guys at Blackfive or Milblogs.com could get you all the candidates you want in a heartbeat. The start of getting your credibility back is just an email away.

How about it TNR, do you want another shot at it, this time with a reputable diarist?

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posted by DrewM. at 04:47 PM

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