Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ignoring ScottScam, TNR Attacks Bill Kristol

Once again, The New Republic (TNR) goes on an ideological attack against Bill Kristol and completely ignores the mess that is their initial fact checking on the Beauchamp story. This is what they have done each time TNR's editors have responded to allegations of misconduct on their part or by Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp. They've claimed an ideological basis for the attacks on TNR, and ignored or downplayed the factual and logical inconsistencies in their publications, purposefully omitted statements from the US military discrediting Beauchamp's articles, and stonewalled.

If TNR had done the proper fact checking originally, they would have realized that something was amiss - especially with the dining hall incident - which didn't even occur in Iraq, but in Kuwait before Beauchamp arrived in the war. That should have set off alarm bells over his timeline, but it did no such thing because TNR didn't bother checking beforehand. Indeed, the failure to fact check at the outset led to ignoring problems elsewhere in the articles that became painfully obvious to milbloggers who know policies and procedures, experts with firearms, and anyone with common sense and logic and reasoning skills.

It's fact checking after the fact was similarly awful - hoping that a cursory claim that anonymous sources backed Beauchamp's story. That too has fallen apart because named sources - including the manufacturer of the Bradley IFV noted that it simply wasn't plausible for the scenario Beauchamp alleged to have occurred.

Then, there are questions of military doctrine that also put TNR on the hot seat - one does not change a flat tire in a river of pooh. A) There isn't enough water in dry desert conditions to permit a river of pooh as alleged; B) US military vehicles use run-flat tires so that they do not need to be changed; C) military doctrine would generally use another vehicle to tow the affected vehicle rather than expose all to potential sniper, mortar, or IED attack; etc...

Instead of continuing to question TNR's fact checking operations and publication of fallacious and exaggerated stories from the fertile wellspring of Pvt. Beauchamp, the story now is about Kristol and his so-called mean digs at TNR because they ran a bogus story as news. Very nicely played.

What we get is a TNR defense that they're simply responding to an ideological attack. It's a diversion, but it can also be quite effective in obscuring the issues at the heart of the matter. At its base level, it is nothing more than a smear of Kristol. Nice.

Chait's piece provides no defense of TNR's own work on Beauchamp or its fact finding efforts, because there frankly hasn't been any that would pass muster.

No comments: