Yesterday the Drudge Report posted key documents in the matter of the New Republic’s Baghdad Diarist Scott Beauchamp. Among the key documents was the transcript of Scott Beauchamp’s September 6 telephone call with New Republic executive editor Peter Scoblic and editor Franklin Foer. The transcript exhibits the desperation of “the editors” to corroborate Beauchamp’s deleted “Shock troops” column, Beauchamp’s refusal to engage the issues, the editors’ pleading and threats, the editors’ urging Beauchamp to cancel his scheduled interviews with the Washington Post and Newsweek, and Beauchamp’s doing so.
The transcript also shows the editors pleading with Beauchamp for a copy of the statements he provided the Army in the course of its investigation. After consulting with counsel, Beauchamp must not have provided the authorization necessary for the Army to release the statements. TNR, in any event, has had nothing to say either about its request to Beauchamp or about the statements Beauchamp provided the Army. Why would that that be?
Perhaps of most interest is the fact that the New Republic has exercised its right to remain silent since the incredibly damning conversation of “the editors” with Beauchamp. Before yesterday, we only knew of the conversation through the dogged efforts of Bob Owens. Durng their September conversation with Beauchamp, “the editors” say they and others will have to draw negative inferences from Beauchamp’s silence — that they “in good conscience” will not be able to continue to defend Beauchamp. What would any reasonable person conclude from the silence of the New Republic?
Today Howard Kurtz returns to the story. (Michelle Malkin comments critically on Kurtz’s article.) Kurtz was able to speak to Foer, who emerged from his foxhole yesterday to complain of the leak of the documents and to profess TNR’s continuing belief in Beauchamp’s column:
The soldier whose New Republic article about military cruelty in Iraq was labeled false by Army investigators refused to defend his accusations when questioned by the magazine, even after being told that the editors could no longer support him unless he cooperated.
In a recorded Sept. 6 conversation, the writer, Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, said from Iraq that the controversy had “spun out of control” and had become “insane” and “ridiculous” and concluded: “I’m not going to talk to anyone about anything.”
Beauchamp stood his ground even after Editor Franklin Foer told him “that if you’re not able to talk about this and able to stand by your story, I’m not sure we’ll be able to stand by it. . . . You wouldn’t have much credibility left in the public eye. . . . You basically made a vow to us that what you were publishing was the truth.” Foer added that Beauchamp’s wife, Elspeth Reeve, then a New Republic reporter, had said “that it’s the most important thing in the world for her that you say that you didn’t recant.”
Beauchamp replied that she was a journalist and he was a soldier.
Despite the contentious conversation, Foer continued to defend the article days later. He did so again yesterday, reiterating that other soldiers whom the magazine would not identify had confirmed the allegations.
While Beauchamp “didn’t stand by his stories in that conversation, he didn’t recant his stories,” Foer said in an interview. “He obviously was under considerable duress during that conversation, with his commanding officer in the room with him.”
While the discussion “was extremely frustrating and engendered doubts,” Foer said, Beauchamp defended his story in a subsequent conversation that was conducted with no superiors present.
In the Sept. 6 conversation, Executive Editor Peter Scoblic repeatedly urged Beauchamp to cooperate, saying that “Frank and his reputation have been dragged through the mud.”
When the New Republic last spoke publicly in the voice of “the editors” on this matter ten weeks ago, they promised to report to their readers concerning the results of their investigation of Beauchamp’s column. The investigation may be over, but TNR isn’t disclosing the conclusions it has reached. Intelligent readers certainly have enough information to draw their own conclusions. The New Republic and “the editors” involved in continuing the coverup — Peter Scoblic, Franklin Foer, Jonathan Chait and the rest of the crew — are happy to treat their readers as credulous fools who will believe anything so long as it refelects poorly on the United States armed forces or as chumps who are indifferent to the truth.
Now Foer tells Kurtz that TNR has spoken again with Beauchamp and with unidentified soldiers who have confirmed Beauchamp’s account. Despite what Scoblic and Foer told Beauchamp in their Septmber conversation with Beauchamp, TNR stands by Beauchamp’s stories. Despite what it asserted in its now inaccessible August 10 update, TNR apparently has no intention of accounting to its readers. On the contrary, it is moving the online record of its disgraceful behavior down the memory hole. One can only conclude that Franklin Foer and “the editors” have turned the personal scandal of Scott Thomas Beauchamp into TNR’s institutional debacle.
UPDATE: A reader points out TNR’s statement that some of its old archives are in transit from its old site. TNR has emailed Glenn Reynolds URLs at which various Beauchamp articles can be retrieved. Beauchamp’s “Shock troops” colulmn is accessible here; TNR’s August 10 Beauchamp update is accessible here.
Michael Yon reports from Beauchamp’s unit in “Beauchamp and the rule of second chances.” Bob Owens comments on the events of the past 24 hours in “The New Republic’s willful coverup.”
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