Tom Edsall asked some other Middle East reporters what they thought of Thomas Smith Jr's reporting:
Michael Prothero, who has reported for Fortune, the Washington Times, and Slate, wrote in an email:
"In his [Smith's] wildly entertaining postings, he describes kidnap attempts, an armed incursion into Christian East Beirut by 5,000 armed Hezbollah fighters that was missed by every journalist in town, he also notes the presence of 200 armed Hezbollah fighters in downtown Beirut 'laying siege' to the prime ministers office, recounts high-speed car chases and 'armed recon operations' where he drives around south Beirut taking pictures of Hezbollah installations, while carrying weapons. In a word, this is all insane."
"He's a fabulist," wrote Chris Allbritton, who has reported from the Middle East since 2002 for Time, Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Times, and the Newark Star-Ledger. According to Allbritton, in an email to the Huffington Post, "[Smith's] claim that 4,000 Hezbollah gunmen took over East Beirut at the end of September simply never happened. Every journalist in town would have pounced on that story, and he's the only one who noticed?"
"Insane". But here's the kicker:
Smith wrote at least five posts in September and October on The Tank attacking the Beauchamp stories, including the following comments: "It would have been virtually impossible for the things Beauchamp said happened to have played out the way he says they did" on September 10; and "Scott Thomas Beauchamp was either a fictitious character or a liar" on October 27.
So which is Smith?
Some background context to the story deliberately dumped late Friday to avoid scrutiny here.
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