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The Times on "Scott Thomas", Three Stories in One Day

6:20 PM, Jul 24, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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A recap of today's New York Times coverage, for those of you keeping score at home. In this morning's paper, the Times runs a story on the questions surrounding the credibility of New Republic's Baghdad Diarist. The last line of that story seems to indicate that New Republic editor Frank Foer is less than 100 percent certain that "Scott Thomas", the pseudonymous author, is even a U.S. soldier:

He said that he had met the writer and that he knows with "near certainty" that he is, in fact, a soldier.

The editors at the New Republic almost immediately--within an hour of the story being published--respond with this clarification at their blog:

TNR readers may have seen this story in the New York Times today. The story says that TNR knows with "near certainty" that Scott Thomas is a soldier in Iraq. In fact, we know this with absolute certainty.

Foer does not claim that the Times had misquoted him, but early this afternoon, the Times story was revised and the "near certainty" quote deleted. The last line of the Times story then read:

He said that he had met the writer and that he knows that he is, in fact, a soldier.

That's version 2.0. When this change was brought to our attention by postings at Hot Air, Ace of Spades, and Little Green Footballs, the WWS placed a call to the New York Times to inquire whether the paper had, in fact, misquoted Foer.

While waiting to hear back, we refreshed our browser and saw that the Times story had reverted to the earlier version that included the quote that Foer knew with "near certainty" that "Thomas" is, in fact, a soldier. Version 1.0 returns.

Then around 5 o'clock this afternoon, the Times changed the piece again, maintaining the integrity of the original piece, but adding a new final line that echoes Foer's blog post from 12:30 am last night:

He said that he had met the writer and that he knows with "near certainty" that he is, in fact, a soldier.

After this article appeared, Mr. Foer said he was "absolutely certain" that the author is a soldier.

Call this Version 3.0

We'll be hitting the refresh button often.

Postscript: Whether "Scott Thomas" is or is not a soldier, the doubts raised about the stories he's told have not dissipated. Earlier today, via Gateway Pundit, MNF-I released a statement about the as yet unidentified "Thomas":

We are aware of what was written under a pseudonym. Its writer is unknown as are his motives. We hold soldiers to the highest standards and the allegations made are completely inconsistent with those expectations. In the absence of any credible information or independent corroboration, we presently have no reason to believe it."

MAJ Alston