I am tardy in commenting on the New Republic’s nearly 7,000 word report that it no longer stands by its Baghdad Diarist alleging monstrous behavior on the part of U.S. soldiers. But I can now tell you-it’s a great read, delicious on every self-pitying page. Nothing like re-reporting a story you’ve already published-which is what the magazine did. (On second thought, scratch that re-it was not reported before publication.)
One of the most amazing aspects of the piece is that editor Foer is shocked that the Army, which is otherwise engaged at this time, doesn’t jump through hoops to help the New Republic prove the veracity of a story that made the Army look as if it is composed of sickos:
“A pattern began. Beauchamp’s behavior was sometimes suspicious–promising evidence that never arrived–but so was the Army’s. Beauchamp had corroboration, but his confusion over [whether a key incident had taken place in] Iraq and Kuwait was troubling. …”
“My colleagues and I placed calls throughout the military’s public affairs apparatus in Baghdad and Washington, hoping to set up back channels. We asked officials to provide us any conclusive evidence, even off the record, that would give us faith in the Army’s findings.
“We never received this cooperation.”
The New Republic editors were dealing with the same officer who handles communications for General David Patreaus–and at times, I must confess that, reading Foer’s piece, I thought the communications officer was behaving as if he had better things to do than help the New Republic mock our men and women in uniform.
Foer will probably keep his job-if for no other reason that magazines must get weary firing editors for publishing stories that can’t be substantiated (let’s se, didn’t the magazine have to let an editor go after fabulist Stephen Glass made up implausible stories, an eisode in the magazine’s history that made it to the big screen?). But for those of us who believe that the media must be read with more than a soupcon of skepticism, the whole mess is a net plus.