“The Standard raises some important questions about the piece, and we’re investigating them,” New Republic Editor Franklin Foer said yesterday. “I’ve been in touch with several members of the author’s unit who corroborate the details under question. And the author has provided compelling responses himself.”
Standard Editor Bill Kristol remains unconvinced. “Right now, it looks as if the New Republic has been the victim — and the perpetrator — of a fraud,” he said. “Many vets and experts have raised questions devastating to ‘Thomas’s’ credibility. Not a single individual has come forward to confirm any aspect of ‘Scott Thomas’s’ account. And who is ‘Scott Thomas’ anyway?”
Foer said he and another editor have met “Thomas,” whose identity the magazine is protecting to shield him against retaliation from his superiors. He said the soldier’s three columns were fact-checked, to the extent possible, before publication, and that he is now trying to resolve the critics’ objections “to my complete satisfaction.”
The issue of veracity is especially sensitive for the New Republic, which fired associate editor Stephen Glass in 1998 for fabrications that editors concluded had appeared in two-thirds of his 41 articles.
Foer called the soldier “an amazing resource — a guy who’s on the front lines, who has a gift for observation and can write.”
As the criticism mounts, Foer says he sees an ideological agenda.
“A lot of the questions raised by the conservative blogosphere boil down to, would American soldiers be capable of doing things like the things described in the diarist. The practical jokes are exceptionally mild compared to things that have been documented by the U.S. military. Conservative bloggers make a bit of a living denying any bad news that emanates from Iraq.”
Foer’s last point does not come close to doing justice to the questions rasised about the article. And one might respond that the left makes a bit of a living promoting calumnies and hyperbolic condemnations of our armed forces. I trust that the New Republic will at some point supply facts sufficient to verify the anecdotes related in the article or retract it, though the magazine has yet to do either and the hour is getting late.
UPDATE: See Michael Goldfarb’s updates here and here.
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