I don't think TNR comes out of the Beauchamp affair looking good. Beauchamp, from a distance, seems like a major douche whose reliability is weak. The anecdotes in question, however, are pretty trivial when compared to things that happen in every war, and can be viewed on Youtube if you look, as soldiers goof off. That's why I've never quite grasped why this story was so maddening to the Bush right. But when you read a usually mild-mannered Pete Wehner accusing TNR of hating the troops and wanting to smear them, you realize how deep the nuttiness has gone. Here's Wehner this morning:
The magazine had turned against the war, and this piece would help turn people against those serving in the war. What has happened instead is that the situation in Iraq is turning around and the TNR piece has utterly collapsed.
Poisonous poppycock. There is all the difference in the world between turning on the war - which Wehner's former bosses criminally bungled and he recklessly spun through years of failure - and turning on the soldiers. I know most of the editors at TNR. I don't think any of them has a scintilla of dislike for any soldier put in harm's way by this president. They are hawkish Democrats with a very long record of support and respect for the military. I cannot speak for Frank Foer but it seems to me that the obvious motive behind the Beauchamp piece was to get some vivid first-person war-reporting in the magazine, to convey what it's actually like to be a soldier. They picked the wrong soldier; and they were too defensive in trying to figure out what happened (which is still unclear to me); and they should never have assigned his wife as his fact-checker. But to ascribe a treasonous or anti-troop motive to them is beyond the pale. The legitimate factual questions, moreover, either happened or didn't. The fate of the broader war is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand.
Similarly, the NRO story is obviously not one of bad motives on the part of Kathryn-Jean Lopez. She didn't want to run anything fallacious.
But she dilly-dallied, on her own account, for over a week before coming clean with the issue. She even waited a week after being contacted by Tom Edsall. Her stated reason for not immediately airing the issue is the following:
I also had a sense of collegial respect for Edsall, i.e. to let him tell his story.
Oh, please. When a reporter contacts you with questions about whether a blogger on your site has been fabricating easily disproved stories, you don't wait for that reporter to publish out of "collegial respect." And Lopez still has not said whether she received emails over six weeks ago alerting her to the question, as Mitch Prothero says. Did she? And what basis does she have for continuing to trust Smith's reporting and continuing to publish his blog?
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