December 03, 2007

Shock Troops update: Foer stops digging

The New Republic disavows Scott Beauchamp, apparently after repeated failures by Beauchamp to release copies of the statements he made to the military on the "Shock Troops" article:

"In retrospect, we never should have put Beauchamp in this situation. He was a young soldier in a war zone, an untried writer without journalistic training. We published his accounts of sensitive events while granting him the shield of anonymity--which, in the wrong hands, can become license to exaggerate, if not fabricate."

Exactly right, and basically this blog's line all along. Hey, better late than never.

One quibble. TNR Franklin Foer: "The Army later confirmed to us that it had, indeed, prevented Beauchamp from speaking." It would be interesting to read the substantiation on this. The army's line at the time was, "We are not preventing [Beauchamp] from speaking to TNR or anyone. He has full access to the [public] phones."

As John Tabin writes correctly today, the army's "prevent[ing] Beauchamp from speaking" really seems to equate to their not actively forcing Beauchamp to return TNR's repeated messages from Iraq. I'm really not sure that's the army's job.

Andrew Sullivan has it about right, I think, too. The people shouting "treason" at TNR this whole time were clearly idiots. Never ascribe something to treason when a bout of incompetence and cavalierism will do just fine. TNR is still a good read; its editors are undoubtedly loyal citizens. From top to bottom, their staff involved in this story just simply didn't have either the experience or discipline to perform up to established standards of practice this one time, a professional failure for which they're paying the price now. That's all this ever was, no matter how much people might have wanted it to be something more.

Posted by BruceR at 10:54 AM