At the Weekly Standard blog, Michael Goldfarb documents the strange saga of the online version of yesterday’s New York Times story on the New Republic’s pseudonymous Baghdad Diarist “Scott Thomas.” I wrote about the Times story (version 1.0) in “Franklin Foer talks again.” Goldfarb observed the Times changing the story during the day with respect to the story’s quote of New Republic editor Foer:
[Foer] said that he had met the writer and that he knows with “near certainty” that he is, in fact, a soldier.
This sentence was deleted during the day. After Goldfarb called the reporter who wrote the story to ask about the mysterious disappearing sentence, the sentence mysteriously reappeared, together with a new concluding sentence:
After this article appeared, Mr. Foer said he was “absolutely certain” that the author is a soldier.
The moving finger writes and, having writ, rejiggers and revises at the urging of “the editors” of the New Republic.
Almost as strange as Foer’s epistemological tergiversations concerning the author of the column is his accounts of the status of his investigation into the substance of Thomas’s “Shock troops” article. This past Friday, “the editors” posted a “note to readers”:
Several conservative blogs have raised questions about the Diarist “Shock Troops,” written by a soldier in Iraq using the pseudonym Scott Thomas. Whenever anybody levels serious accusations against a piece published in our magazine, we take those charges seriously. Indeed, we’re in the process of investigating them. I’ve spoken extensively with the author of the piece and have communicated with other soldiers who witnessed the events described in the diarist. Thus far, these conversations have done nothing to undermine–and much to corroborate–the author’s descriptions. I will let you know more after we complete our investigation.
In yesterday’s Times article, however, Foer is quoted regarding the difficulties he has encountered conducting his investigation: