Dozens of staff members and contributing editors at The New Republic resigned en masse Friday morning, less than 24 hours after top editors Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier quit over a dispute with management over the magazine's direction.That name rang a bell. In 2007, TNR published a story, "Shock Troops":
In a diary entry in The New Republic, Beauchamp claims he ridiculed a woman in Iraq whose face had been severely burned: "I love chicks that have been intimate with IEDs" (improvised explosive devices), Beauchamp quotes himself as saying, loudly, to his friends in the chow hall. "It really turns me on -- melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses," he recounted. "My friend was practically falling out of his chair laughing...The disfigured woman slammed her cup down and ran out of the chow hall."An Army investigation reported that it was all made up:
Next, he described finding the remains of children in a mass grave uncovered while his unit constructed a combat outpost: "One private...found the top part of a human skull... As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter ... No one was disgusted. Me included."
Finally, Beauchamp described another soldier "who only really enjoyed driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles because it gave him the opportunity to run things over. He took out curbs, concrete barriers, corners of buildings, stands in the market, and his favorite target: dogs." Beauchamp described how the soldier killed three dogs in one day: "He slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks."
An Army investigation into the Baghdad Diarist, a soldier in Iraq who wrote anonymous columns for The New Republic, has concluded that the sometimes shockingly cruel reports were false.Specifically, the Army investigation determined the following:
“We are not going into the details of the investigation,” Maj. Steven F. Lamb, deputy public affairs officer in Baghdad, wrote in an e-mail message. “The allegations are false, his platoon and company were interviewed, and no one could substantiate the claims he made.”
The editor at the time at TNR? Franklin Foer. He circled the waggons, defending the story for six months before finally releasing a mealy-mouthed, weasel-worded non-retraction:
- That the incident of blatant disrespect for a disfigured woman in the FOB Falcon DFAC is a tale completely fabricated by Private Beauchamp. (The New Republic issued a correction saying the story took place in Kuwait, not Iraq.)
- That the desecration of human remains and the discovery of a "Saddam-era dumping ground" is false.
- That the deliberate targeting of wild dogs is completely unfounded.
- That Private Beauchamp desired to use his experiences to enhance his writing and provide legitimacy to his work possibly becoming the next Hemmingway [sic].
- That Private Beauchamp is not a credible source for making the allegation he wrote about in "Shock Troops." He admitted that he was not an eyewitness to the targeting of dogs and only saw animal bones during the construction of Combat Outpost Ellis. Combined with the piece of fiction that he wrote on 8 May 2006 on his blog, I find that Private Beauchamp takes small bits of truth and twists and exaggerates them into fictional account that he puts forth as the whole truth for public consumption.
When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.And so to the wailing and rending of garments over the departure of Mr. Foer and the threat to TNR's "journalistic integrity": bitch, please.
Don't lit it hit you in the rear on the way out, Foer.