The Weekly Standard website crashed last night, apparently because so many people were interested in the latest development in the New Republic’s “Baghdad Diarist” scandal (I think today the world scandal can be applied without an alleged attached).
The New Republic, as you may remember, stood by a story by soldier Scott Beauchamp that portrayed the American military as monsters: it featured soldiers mocking a woman disfigured by an IED, sporting with the skull of a child, and killing dogs for fun with a Bradley tank.
Conservative bloggers, especially Michael Goldfarb at the Standard, immediately smelled a rat: the stories had lots to appeal to anti-military types, people who believe in the “Apocalypse Now” view of soldiers. For others, the anecdotes seemed improbable, and the story was challenged as factually wrong. The New Republic claimed to be investigating the story, meanwhile maintaining their veracity (the editors did admit that one incident was placed in the wrong country, which they seemed to regard as minor).
Now, it appears from transcripts of conversations (first on Drudge, but mysteriously removed) that the author all along left the magazine in the lurch, refusing to stand by, or even discuss, his stories. Slate has the best-round up on these latest developments (including the damning transcripts).
The New Republic was obligated to admit that the author himself no longer stood by his stories. It didn’t. It appears that one more liberal journalistic outlet has let its bias lure it into a trap. You should read the entire transcript-you can feel editor Franklin Foer’s desperation. (At one point, he relays a message from Beauchamp’s wife, a New Republic staffer, saying that the most important thing in the world to her is that he not recant–Beauchamp is unmoved.) Foer appears to have realized he was in big trouble-his subsequent actions, howeverm indicate that he must have felt he could cross his fingers and the story would go away.