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August 7, 2007
Farewell and Adieu Scott Beauchamp
Scott Beauchamp has just become the answer to a trivia question: Which military fabulist who wrote anti-military smears for The New Republic was exposed by the Army and conservative bloggers?
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source. Separately, we received this statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad: Also, it is apparent that Beauchamp was lying to The New Republic at exactly the same time he was recanting his story to the military:
An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims.
According to the military source, Beauchamp's recantation was volunteered on the first day of the military's investigation. So as Beauchamp was in Iraq signing an affidavit denying the truth of his stories, the New Republic was publishing a statement from him on its website on July 26, in which Beauchamp said, "I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name." Thus ends another sad tale in the history of one of the more august opinion magazines in American history. The New Republic has never had more than 100,000 circulation. But its impact on progressive politics during the last 94 years has been astonishing. Its stable of writers have included some of the greats in the history of American letters; John Dewey, George Orwell, Virginia Wolfe, Phillip Roth, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Irving Kristol, and Edward Luttak to name a few of the more notable contributors.
And with those names is now attached Scott Beauchamp, fabulist. It is a sorry state of affairs brought about by the sheer hubris of its current editor, Franklin Foer, who inexplicably failed to do basic fact checking on many of the more outrageous elements in Beauchamp's lies. For that, he should be fired. Whether Editor in Chief Martin Peretz thinks the magazine can withstand another blow such as the one delivered by the lies told by another TNR writer Stephen Glass remains to be seen. He may seek to hunker down and weather the storm by standing by his man Foer while claiming the Army coerced the young man into a false confession. Such would be beneath the dignity of such an American icon of journalism, but he may take that road anyway.
More likely, Foer is history. And who will take on the position of editor at a magazine with declining circulation and influence as well as credibility problems?