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Rutten Refuses to Correct Piece?

3:05 PM, Oct 29, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Tim Rutten's latest column for the Los Angeles Times, titled "Drudge, New Republic battle over 'Baghdad Diarist'," is remarkable for the number of factual inaccuracies it contains. Granted, the Beauchamp affair is complicated, and for those of us who have followed it closely there has been a great deal of frustration with the attempts by MSM journalists to report the details, as it often seems they do very little research before writing. Still, Rutten's work stands out for its deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. And I say deliberate because I wrote Rutten a perfectly pleasant email over the weekend informing him of the piece's most significant error, which he has yet to correct.

Bob Owens has done a pretty good job of enumerating each mistake in the piece here, but the mistake I find most troubling is that Rutten repeatedly admonishes the Drudge Report for referring to, but failing to provide a copy of, the "Memorandum for Record" signed by Beauchamp. Here's Rutten:

The fourth document, according to Drudge, was "a signed 'Memorandum for Record' in which Beauchamp recants his stories and concedes the facts of the Army's investigation -- that his stories contained 'gross exaggerations and inaccurate allegations of misconduct' by his fellow soldiers."

It was interesting to note that Drudge provided links to the transcripts and report but not to the purported "Memorandum for Record." (In fact, signing such a document -- if it exists -- is not an admission of guilt, but merely an acknowledgment that the person under investigation has been shown the contents.) Far more interesting was the fact that within several hours, Drudge had, without explanation, removed the "exclusive" from his website. The item still can be found in the report's archives, but links to the documents have been disabled. No notice or explanation is appended to the archived item.

So Rutten is basically implying that Drudge pulled the documents because this memorandum didn't exist. In fact, if Rutten had actually read the transcript of the phone call between Foer, Scoblic, and Beauchamp before writing a half-baked piece, he would have noticed that the memorandum was appended to the second portion of the transcript. Apparently he did not read the documents. Again, go read Owens's post to see the catalogue of other errors in the piece. But Rutten, despite being informed of the error, has failed to issue a simple correction. Frankly, this is pretty disturbing behavior for a journalist who covers the media. If you would like to read the document that Rutten didn't, it's available here, and if you're only slightly less lazy than Rutten, you can scroll down to the last two pages and see for yourself.