John Cole's reaction was fairly amusing. An "I was right, even if I was wrong" post with a disclaimer that he'd be out of pocket for a while. Read the comments as well.
But at least Cole addressed it, even if his post was long on spin and short on "oops". As for Shakesville? Well, thus far, the chirping of crickets. Not that I'm particularly surprised given the cluelessness of the post that was previously offered. I fully expect more denial at some point. We can also expect to see Beauchamp portrayed as "the victimTM" and the unfounded assumption that he was coerced into recanting to be the basis for that portrayal. Because, you know, they know exactly how it works in the military and can thus positively assure us of this "truth".
But if you're interested in some really convoluted thinking to justify Beauchamp's "burned woman" story, and thus the premise of his article, I invite you to read this. "Fake but accurate" lives. Check out the comments as well.
A couple of points. One of the questions that seems to be winging its way through the leftosphere is "but what about TNR's corroboration?"
Well here's the deal on that. Their corroboration, such that it was, consisted of talking to soldiers they didn't know who essentially agreed, apparently, to back Beauchamps story to the magazine. Now, what did it cost them if they lied or exaggerated the details to TNR? Zip. Nada. Nothing. TNR's editors have no effect on their lives, can't do a thing to them and aren't in their chain of command. So the cost for them? Pretty much nothing. They support a buddy in trouble and they do so anonymously.
Not the case when it comes to a formal investigation in which sworn statements are taken. Now lies have consequences, and, as should be expected, the nonsense ended and the support for Beauchamp's stories disappeared. Hardly a surprise and it certainly easily and reasonably explains why there is conflicting "corroboration". Me? I'll go with signed sworn statements over anonymous "corroboration" any day.
Secondly, there is a question of why this was so important to the milblogs and myself and Dale seems to mystify the leftosphere. Why in the world are we "wingnuts" so adamantly pursuing these lies?
"They told stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."
This myth, essentially left unchallenged, stained a generation of soldiers. It, of course wasn't the only myth circulated by the anti-war, anti-military crowd. We're all familiar with the composite it built of the 'crazy Vietnam vet'. I say "essentially unchallenged" because rebuttal wasn't invited and those who did rebut the meme mostly had no voice.
That was then, this is now, and those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, to borrow a phrase. Well I refuse to ignore it and I certainly refuse to allow it to repeat in the case of our soldiers in Iraq. Once more for the slow among us - I am not denying that bad things happen or that soldiers do bad things. However, that certainly doesn't mean I can't spot reports and stories that are bogus and meant to hurt the overall view the public at large has of our soldiers. I'm not claiming some grand conspiracy, or some concerted effort on the left. But I am claiming that the sort of stories Beauchamp offered lent themselves to that sort of perception whether the author intended that or not (and I'm of the opinion that's precisely what he intended, but I'll leave it there).
So when the left asks, as John Cole does, "what's the big deal", that's the big deal. I and others have the means and the ability to refute the "Gengis Khan" charges and the liars who proffer them. Those of us who suffered the consequences of the lies, exaggerations, myths and "stories" of that previous war, have adopted the motto of the survivors of the holocaust, "never again". If the left wants to write that off as an overreaction and the like, I will gladly accept that criticism and invite them to get over it.
In the meantime the proper equipment is firmly in place.
I hope my email meets you well. I am in need of your assistance. My name is Sgt. Morgan Reeves Jr. I am a military attache with the Engineering unit here in Ba’qubah Iraq for the united state, we have about $25 Million dollars that we want to move out of the country.
I’m not sure how to credit this idea, given that it tends to fly in the face of Beauchamp being an unpopular malcontent. something isn’t mashing, here.
In any unit, even a malcontent will have some friends. However the limits of that relationship (and friendship) will be drawn at where supporting the malcontent has undesirable consequences for the supporter.
"Corroborating" a tall tale to TNR has no such consequences. Corroborating it to your CO under oath and having the corroboration found to be a lie does.
Franklin Foer should go because of this Steven Glass follow-up. Someone called the Beauchamp folderol "pre-traumatic stress disorder," and it went right into Foer’s left-wing frontal-lobe circuitry without a single limbic fact-check. TNR rivals the New Yorker for its witless commentary & lack of fact-checking. Serial hack Hendrick Hertzberg mis-spelled "Saudia Arabia[sic]" and got away with it in TNY. Maybe it’s the fever-swamp Kool-Ade that Foer inherited from his Commie daddy, a "historian" noted for fake analyses of American policy.
“I’ve tried very hard to be fair about this story, and I quite honestly don’t feel there’s anything for which I need to apologize…I’m not convinced his recantation is evidence that every aspect of all three "Baghdad Diarist" columns were false. …because he’s a liar. And if we accept that he lied about…where one incident took place (if it took place at all), then basic logic suggests he could be lying again. He’s reportedly "had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family," and I wouldn’t argue with a straight face that I couldn’t imagine him saying what needs to be said to get those privileges reinstated. ”
The individual people involved are almost non-essential info. Of greater import, I think is the pattern which Surber points up:
TNR fell for him the same way the Democratic Senate subcommittee fell for Lt. John Kerry’s wild tales of “Jenjis Khan” in Vietnam some 36 years ago.
TNR fell for him the same way the Washington Post fell for Janet Cooke’s wild tales of an 8-year-old heroin addict.
TNR fell for him the same way TNR fell for Stephen Glass or the New York Times fell for Jayson Blair.
In each case the fabricator told the listener exactly what the listener wanted to hear. I suggest doubling the dose of skepticism when someone tells you something that fits your take on an issue.
I figure that’s pretty much an impossibility, given that it asks the average liberal to question his position. But… there is something that all this reveals, but not many people are talking about: The leftist media is about spreading these falsehoods, because they do not have any truths that match their agenda.
Now something Beachamp has written is not true, either the recantation or the articles. But why believe the new statement over the old ones? Or, for that matter, the old over the new? There’s the screamingly obvious possibility that Beauchamp signed his recantation under duress, given that he “had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family” as of last week - so screamingly obvious that Goldfarb won’t even broach the possibility.
The point is, that we do not want people on the Left to keep throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. We want to have an honest debate. McQ mentions the precendent of the Winter soldier stories influencing perceptions about Vietnam, but there is an even more recent precendent: Joe Wilson. Look at the impact that he was able to have on the debate with his NYT op-ed by disguising his ideological bias and writing a superficially compelling but non-factual story.
TNR did not publish these stories as fiction, or as "who knows?" They published them as subjective-but-non-fiction journalism. That’s the problem.
Jesse McBeth Micah Wright Jimmy Massey Amorita Randall Scott Beauchamp
How many more times are we going to have to relearn the lessons of the individuals listed above. Even our leaders (Kerry, Durbin, and Murtha just to name a few) offer their own versions of the atrocities our troops commit in combat. And MSM falls on its sword every time on the "fake but accurate" meme.
Some question TNRs fact-checking and then their steadfast, if not stubborn, adherence to the author when holes in his story appeared. Some question the left gleefully grabbing onto the stories initially and the deafening silence that is now heard from that venue. Some question the right fighting the validity of the stories and now their vindication as piling on. And some question this episode as much ado about nothing. All of these questions are worthy of discussion and debate becasue I think they are all questions that reflect the condition of our society today.
I’ll even add a question to the mix. I question the MSM acceptance of the Beauchamp tales as gospel from TNR without so much as a blink as to their authenticity. Are the newsrooms of America that void common sense? Are they that devoid of military experience? Are they that gullible? It is one thing for a leftist rag to accept the versions presented to it because it fits their world view. But the entirety of the rest of the media? And the tale is the same for all of the individuals listed above. Each had their 15 minutes of Media fame before each was shot down as frauds. Their stories were front page news but their comeuppance was little more than a footnote. Of the footnote, I am not surprised. But it surprises and galls me they were so readily accepted in the first place.
Did the MSM really glom onto this story? What major MSM vehicle accepted the thing wholesale? I could be wrong, but my memory tells me that, for the most part, what little MSM exposure the story got was fairly noncommittal. This was truely an online dust-up. I’m not downplaying its significance. I think the story and the reaction to it was natural and appropriate.