Foer the Record
11:16 PM, Aug 2, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
In an interview with the New York Observer earlier today, New Republic editor Frank Foer singles out THE WEEKLY STANDARD for recklessness in raising questions about a pseudonymous column by a soldier in Iraq, Scott Thomas Beauchamp, published two weeks ago in the New Republic. Foer's accusation is misleading and unwarranted.
The article in question, "Shock Troops," was a collection of first-person "vignettes" (TNR's term) that described the author's cruelty and that of his fellow soldiers. The point, according to the New Republic, was to depict "the morally and emotionally distorting effects of war."
The Observer's Michael Calderone writes: "Of the Weekly Standard in particular, Mr. Foer said he did not assist in their reporting when contacted because of 'the reckless way they handled their investigation.'"
This is preposterous. Foer did in fact assist us in our reporting, whatever he now says to the contrary. However, a key corroborating detail that he obtained from the author and passed along to me--before I ever published a word about Scott Thomas Beauchamp--turns out now to have been false.
Before publicly raising questions about Beauchamp's reliability as a narrator of war stories, I interviewed Foer by phone on the afternoon of July 17. His description of the "fact-checking" process for Beauchamp's article did not inspire confidence. Here is how he described the New Republic's due diligence in his interview with me:
After our conversation, Foer followed up with several emails. Here is our entire exchange, with only the email addresses edited out:
Only after that exchange did I publish my first piece on the subject--a request to the "milblogging community to do some digging of their own, and individual soldiers and veterans to come forward with relevant information--either about the specific events or their plausibility in general."
The reader can judge who was reckless here.