The New Republic SLAMMED By AP In The WaPo
TNR gets hit up side the head every which way, including sideways, in this one and Foer didn’t even respond for comment. It gets better, or worse, if you’re TNR, as you go – assuming poor judgment, a failure to follow basic principles of journalism, possible competing interests and apparently not doing any kind of fact checking are big deals, of course.
A magazine gets a hot story straight from a soldier in Iraq and publishes his writing, complete with gory details, under a pseudonym. The stories are chilling: …. Compelling stuff, and, according to the Army, not true.
The Army said this week it had concluded an investigation of Beauchamp’s claims and found them false.
"During that investigation, all the soldiers from his unit refuted all claims that Pvt. Beauchamp made in his blog," Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview.
Calls to Editor Franklin Foer at The New Republic in Washington were not returned,
Bob Steele, the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at The Poynter Institute school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla., said granting a writer anonymity "raises questions about authenticity and legitimacy."
"Anonymity allows an individual to make accusations against others with impunity," Steele said. "In this case, the anonymous diarist was accusing other soldiers of various levels of wrongdoing that were, at the least, moral failures, if not violations of military conduct. The anonymity further allows the writer to sidestep essential accountability that would exist, were he identified."
Steele said he was troubled by the fact that the magazine did not catch the scene-shifting from Kuwait to Iraq of the incident Beauchamp described involving the disfigured woman.
"If they were doing any kind of fact-checking, with multiple sources, that error _ or potential deception _ would have emerged," Steele said.
He added that he was also troubled by the relationship between Beauchamp and Reeve, his wife, who works at The New Republic. "It raises the possible specter of competing loyalties, which could undermine the credibility of the journalism," he said.
Paul McLeary, a staff writer for Columbia Journalism Review who has written about the matter, said The New Republic failed to do some basic journalistic legwork, such as calling the public affairs officer for Beauchamp’s unit.