The National Review’s yearning for the truth only applies to others

Let’s revisit the Scott Beauchamp story just briefly. The following wasn’t written by some goof ball right-wing blogger, but by a contributing editor at one of the Right’s flagship publications The National Review (on-line edition), Shattered Diarist, Ask Peter Arnett for advice next time. By James S. Robbins October 25, 2007, 6:00 a.m.

TNR’s first response to the release was typical of the tone-deafness with which they have approached the entire affair — denouncing the selective leak of official documents. It is always suspect when journalists take a principled stand against leaks. It might be more convincing if TNR pledged never to use leaked information in its reporting ever again, maybe then they’d have some credibility. (emphasis mine)

Credibility. Such high aspirations, such high ideals are laudable. On the other hand it would be appropriate for the person and organization that that holds such high standards to actually do two things: live up to those standards and to know what they’re talking about. The military chose to leak exclusively to right-wing sources while limiting and eventually cutting off The New Republic’s access to both Beauchamp and other soldiers in his unit. That a fact. During that time TNR’s actions were pretty transparent every step of the way. Something that cannot be said of The National Review and the sources that spoke to The National Review or one right-wing blogger in particular. The National Review further states,

The Beauchamp affair should be taught in journalism schools as a case study of how not to conduct damage control.

In other words the Right found Scott guilty before all the facts were known, why couldn’t everyone just follow the Review’s lead and stop thinking for themselves. From the TNR article published 12-10-07,

After that, the Army, by its own admission, didn’t permit Beauchamp to speak to tnr for over a month. It was the worst moment to lose contact.

Back to Robbin’s bold assertions based soley on a combination of assumptions and information selectively leaked to the Right by the military,

The Army’s report on the Beauchamp incident is good reading and confirms what was widely believed, namely that Scott either made up or wildly exaggerated the events he described. It is a shame that all we got to see was the report itself and not the supporting documentation, especially the statements of other soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit. Maybe the next leak won’t be as selective

Robbins has obviously never been near the military much less served if he thinks every report they write is some kind of infallible holy writ. He’s either being purposely moronic or doesn’t have a clue and doesn’t mind showing off his complete ignorance to anyone that will spare the time to read his bunk. Again from The New Republic on the Army’s duress of Scott and his comrades,

… [I]t bottomed out to us saying that we’d found “unidentified remains.” [Captain] cheerfully edged us into calling them “animal” remains “so that there’s no implication of them possibly being human.” I changed mine to what he wanted. SCOTT changed his to “remains that people had said were animals.”

Why should anyone believe what The National Review writes. On the Beauchamp story they made up  events out of their own ideologically driven fantasies. Glenn Greenwald provides more then ample evidence that if The New Republic, according to Robbins and The National Review needs lessons in journalism then Pot meet Mr. Kettle, National Review reporter caught fabricating; where is the “liberal media”? 

National Review reporter Thomas Smith has been exposed as a fabulist for plainly fictitious claims he made in two separate NR posts in September regarding Hezbollah’s alleged armed threat to the Lebanese Government. The most comprehensive report detailing Smith’s fabrications is from Thomas Edsall in The Huffington Post, who examines some of the most factually dubious claims (including Smith’s “report” that “between 4,000-5,000 Hezbollah gunmen had ‘deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut in an unsettling ‘show of force'” and his separate claim that “‘some 200-plus heavily armed Hezbollah militiamen’ occupied a ‘sprawling Hezbollah tent city’ near the Lebanese parliament”) Smith’s war-fueling conclusion: “Hezbollah is rehearsing for something big here.”

Edsall quotes four separate experts on Lebanon, who respectively labelled Smith’s claims “insane,” said his most grandiose stories simply “never happened,” and stated that Smith is a “fabulist.” As Edsall notes, Smith’s melodramatic and highly suspicious claims about armed Hezbollah activities in Lebanon “appear to be designed to bolster support for the ongoing presence of U.S troops in the Mideast.”

Rather than acknowledging any errors in a clear and straightforward way, National Review chose late Friday afternoon to raise this matter — the favored time period of politicians to dump embarrassing stories, when as few people as possible will see it — in the form of a mealy-mouthed, self-justifying “Editor’s Note” from Kathryn Jean Lopez. Lopez apologizes to readers on the ground that “NRO should have provided readers with more context and caveats in some posts from Lebanon this fall,” but never says what those caveats should have been or what the missing context was.

Wow, hard to believe, Mr’ Robin’s home of high journalistic standards where credibility is the operative word in every key stroke is publishing garbage that makes the most far fetched fairy tales seem tame by comparison. Once caught, Mr. Robbin’s and cohorts, one would think, would be the experts on “damage control”, but as Glenn points out in the last update they’re fumbling around like the propagandists they are,

UPDATE II: Apologists for National Review are claiming that its online editor, Kathryn Jean Lopez, acted properly by quickly and clearly disclosing the falsehoods. But additional facts prove that this is clearly untrue.

Two highly experienced reporters stationed in Lebanon — Mitchell Prothero and Chris Allbritton (both of whom are cited by Tom Edsall in debunking Smith’s claims) — sent emails to Lopez six weeks ago, which she simply did not answer.  

I’ve never been a fan of The New Republic, for some time now its been a bizarre combination of Lieberman Democrat and Andrew Sullivan conservative. Hardly a recipe for a “liberal” publication. Though individual writers at TNR have done some commendable work, the magazine as a whole has a way to go before it has any great following among liberals. The National Review on the other hand will survive this among many of their other incidents of complete disregard for the truth because that is and will continue to be part of and parcel of their agenda. Their articles and opinion pieces are not fact driven, they’re ideology driven. As such there is little reason other then entertainment value for any moderate person of reasonable intelligence and good judgment to read them.