December 06, 2007

Shattered . . . Foer

Iowahawk pwns The New Republic.

Facing the difficulties of verifying the piece, but wanting to ensure its plausibility before publication, we sent the piece to a correspondent for a major newspaper who had spent many tours embedded in Iraq. Had he noticed the US Army in Iraq? Check. Did they have Bradley Fighting Vehicles? Check. Had he seen dogs? Check. So far, the story seemed to be plausible. But what of the disfigured woman of the Cleveland Steamer episode? This became the focal point of our fact-checking. We asked Reeve to push Beauchamp for corroboration of this woman's existence. In an e-mail, she relayed his answer (throughout this story, we've withheld the names of soldiers who never gave us permission to use them):

OK, now I am talking to Scott on the phone. Now he is asking all of the other soldiers in the Army if they had seen the her. Now I am hearing the other soldiers shout yeah. The other soldiers are now shouting that all of the facts that Scott wrote about are true. They are now shouting that don't call us or the Army again, or we will have to deny this conversation because we will get into trouble, and if we deny anything it is really a secret signal that we are actually verifying that the story is true. Now more soldiers are shouting something. What's that? The New Republic is their favorite magazine? But that they think the fact-checkers are underpaid? I am now telling Scott to tell all the other soldiers that I will pass on this information.

And there's this moment:

Did we have a Jayson Blair on our hands—or, closer to home, another Stephen Glass, the fabulist who did so much to tarnish this magazine's reputation ten years ago? Or perhaps another Ruth Shalit, whose plagiarism at this magazine did somewhat less tarnishing two years earlier? Or could he be another Lee Siegel, whose 2007 sock puppeting at this magazine resulted another tarnishing, albeit only around 40 on the Glass Tarnish Quotient? One fact was clear: painful experience has taught us at The New Republic to be on the lookout for tarnishings, so Beauchamp should know better than to "pull a fast one" on us.

We published an online statement pledging an investigation. That weekend, members of the editorial staff assembled at my house to divide up the task of re-reporting his stories. It would be a long an arduous task, with the possibility of uncomfortable conclusions. Ted, the new intern from Columbia Journalism School, brought along Pictionary.

Posted by Attila Girl at December 6, 2007 11:11 AM | TrackBack

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About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
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