Has New Republic editor Franklin Foer stepped forward to explain how the magazine verified the disgraceful incidents recounted in the article “Shock troops” by the pseudonymous “Scott Thomas” prior to publication in the magazine’s current issue? I can find no evidence that he has.
Grounds to doubt each of the three incidents recounted in the article surfaced immediately after Michael Goldfarb put the question “Fact or fiction?” before the blogosphere. Stephen Spruiell conveniently summarizes the evolution of doubt about Thomas’s article here, including Michael Yon’s message to Goldbarb that the article “sounds like complete garbage.”
The incidents recounted by Thomas have certain attributes in common. Each of the three incidents recounted by Thomas reflects poorly on the American forces fighting in Iraq. Each of them is also highly improbable on its face. How likely is it, for example, that American soldiers would stand for the mockery of a woman disfigured by an IED? Not bloody likely.
Yet one can infer that the New Republic ran the article without much in the way of independent verification of the incidents recounted in it. Otherwise one of the loquacious editors and staffers who post at The Plank would surely have risen to the challenges raised to the article around the ‘net.
Martin Peretz is listed on the magazine’s masthead as editor-in-chief. Mr. Peretz, what say you about “Scott Thomas”? Mr. Foer, what say you? Ladies and gentlemen, what say you all? Let us hear from the editors of the New Republic on the steps undertaken by the magazine to verify the incidents recounted in “Shock troops” prior to publication. Let us know whether you stand by the article now, and why.
The New Republic’s publication of “Shock troops” was apparently intended to “shock.” Publication of the article has served no constructive purpose other than revealing the casual contempt in which our military forces are held by the editors of the magazine. It is time for the powers-that-be at the magazine to explain themselves.
UPDATE: Michael Goldfarb’s latest update on the response to his original post is here.
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