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December 12, 2007

Elspeth Reeve: They Should Believe Scott Beauchamp Because, Well, Just Because!

Despite the fact that Beauchamp continues to not stand by his own stories, even though he's currently home on a leave. Only his wife seems willing to claim they're true.

Some news: Foer was considering retracting the stories since early November. Of course through that period TNR was silent and allowed its last statement -- claiming the stories were accurate -- to stand.

“Yeah, it’s a bummer, but it’s hard to shed any tears over Frank,” Elspeth Reeve was telling The Observer in a phone interview Friday, the day before her husband, U.S. Army Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, joined her at her mother’s house in Missouri for his 30-day leave.


It was Ms. Reeve, 25, who, while working at TNR as a reporter-researcher, had recommended Mr. Beauchamp—not yet her husband at the time—to the magazine’s editors. Nevertheless, Ms. Reeve said, she wasn’t going to let the fact that Mr. Foer had publicly denounced Mr. Beauchamp’s work spoil her mood on the eve of her reunion with her husband.

“[Scott] survived the war, he’s coming home, we’re newlyweds, it’s Christmas,” she said. “I’m living in a romance novel. It’s kind of hard to be down.”

Ms. Reeve said she was surprised to learn, in early November while visiting her husband in Germany (where he was transferred upon completing his tour of duty in Iraq), that Mr. Foer planned to retract the stories. She said that she and Mr. Beauchamp had not expected Mr. Foer to take any decisive action until Mr. Beauchamp returned to the U.S. this week, at which point they thought it would be much easier for him to speak up in his own defense.

“I think Scott thought Frank was on his side, you know? And that he understood that he was in a really difficult situation and so would be patient until Scott got out of Iraq,” Ms. Reeve said. “I don’t think Scott realized the limits on Frank’s patience.”

Ms. Reeve also argued that Mr. Foer’s retraction, titled “The Fog of War,” had failed to prove that any of Mr. Beauchamp’s stories contained fabrications—all it did, she said, was demonstrate that Mr. Foer was tired of dealing with the scandal.

“When I first heard about this piece,” Ms. Reeve said, “I thought they would have taken all the different things that the soldiers had said about each of the three stories and analyzed them for inconsistencies, and said, ‘Here’s where we think Scott exaggerated’ or ‘Here’s where we think the stories don’t match up and that’s why we can’t stand behind them anymore.’ But instead they were like, ‘Here are all the reasons to support Scott, but this is hard.’ And they just threw up their hands.”


According to Jonathan Chait, a senior editor at TNR, the magazine received little cooperation from Mr. Beauchamp throughout the investigation process. “The basis [for the retraction] was just that Scott is maddening,” he said. “He’s just flaky, he’s irresponsible, he doesn’t do things that are in his own obvious interest to do. … Scott was the guy who lives in the group house and is supposed to pay the electric bill and just doesn’t, and the lights get shut off. Frank was the guy who had the lights shut out on him.” Mr. Beauchamp declined to comment for this story.

Marty Peretz, as could be expected, "stands behind" the decision to retract.

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posted by Ace at 05:05 PM

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