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A Few Thoughts on the "Scott Thomas" Brouhaha

We, the crack young staff of "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," must admit that we haven't followed the whole "Scott Thomas"-New Republic brouhaha very closely. Although we are regular readers of The New Republic, we didn't trouble ourselves much over the "Scott Thomas" Baghdad Diarist columns. Frankly, we didn't recognize that they'd prove so incendiary.

Even so, dear reader, we have kept abreast of the "weblogosphere" fracas related to these articles' publication, and we have a few thoughts to share about it. By now, you undoubtedly recognize that the pseudonymous columnist for TNR is actually one Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a US military man with the rank of private. The veracity of his account of American servicemen's atrocities and otherwise troubling behavior has yet to be confirmed, so we haven't much to say about it.

Still, we think that the whole controversy so far has generated a bit more heat than light. Now, it is undoubtedly true that the columns fit the current ideological positions of the TNR staff, since the magazine has become a latter-day critic of the Iraq War. Yet we have a sense that some of the conservatives criticizing TNR know scarcely little about it.

A few days ago, we saw Brent Bozell on Fox News lambaste TNR over the current "Scott Thomas" brouhaha. TNR, he charged, was a hard-left organ eager to slander American servicemen. As the result of his performance, we got the sneaking suspicion that Brent Bozell hasn't read TNR in quite some time (if ever).

Now, to be sure, we dislike many of the political stances TNR has taken in the past. Although an erstwhile champion of the liberation of Iraq, the magazine's abrupt about-face has rubbed us the wrong way. Combine this newfound isolationism with incessant cheerleading for US intervention in Darfur and you've got one irritating view on American foreign policy. We mean, come on: Ignominiously depart from Iraq to cause a mass slaughter and head to Darfur to stop a mass slaughter? How selectively moral can you get?

Still, we would be remiss if we failed to mention Mr. Bozell's unfair characterization of TNR. If you ask us, it is, besides the quarterly Dissent, the best source for left-leaning commentary in America.

In essence, TNR is a moderate liberal outfit. Its editor-in-chief, Martin Peretz, routinely skewers the follies of the far Left. The magazine is very strong on Israel and occasionally gives column space to such right-leaning luminaries as Robert Kagan and Gertrude Himmelfarb.

It strikes us as unfair for conservatives to slam TNR as if it were ideologically indistinct from, say, The Nation or Mother Jones. Sure, the magazine may have made a terrible error in printing the "Scott Thomas" pieces. But this needn't compel conservatives to mischaracterize TNR in order to score some political points.

With that out of the way, we can make one niggling point about Scott Thomas Beauchamp's recent statement on the controversy. At one point in this statement, Mr. Beauchamp says:

It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join.

This bit is, in a word, odd. After all, if you truly don't aim "to play some role in an ideological battle that [you] never wanted to join," you probably shouldn't write incendiary columns for a left-leaning opinion magazine, now should you? Those adverse to ideological battles would be better off penning articles for, say, Dog Fancy.

It is difficult to believe that Private Beachamp is this naïve. Rather, this remark strikes us as entirely disingenuous. In the days to come, we suppose we'll see if the other charges tossed at Private Beachamp stick.

(Note: The crack young staff normally "weblog" over at "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," where they are currently shying away from ideological battles by writing polemics for The American Spectator.)


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Comments (7)

"It's been maddening, to sa... (Below threshold)

"It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq." - 'Scott Thomas' Beauchamp

'Never wanted' to join an ideological battle isn't the only thing that makes it disingenuous. The Milbloggers have been all over this story. By his own standard, those are the people who can really assess the plausibility of his stories. Where's his comment on their evaluations?

No, Beauchamp isn't naive, he just assumes everyone reading his statement is.

No, Dog Fancy has hi... (Below threshold)

No, Dog Fancy has higher editorial standards. Among other things, they fact-check. Especially photos. And photos are always required for front-line stories.

I do not read TNR, I will s... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I do not read TNR, I will say that up front. I do have a comment and a question.
I do know that Stephen Glass, a journalist for TNR in the 90's wrote many stories against the republicans proven to be made up. TNR finally fired him. Why should we believe their stories now?

The question: Why did TNR wait until AFTER they printed the story to start the fact checking? I believe the answer to that would reveal their motivation. ww

This may be a little too in... (Below threshold)

This may be a little too inside baseball, but I disagree with the notion that Bozell does not read TNR. His organization, MRC, has been around for decades and they, along with Accuracy in Media (and occassionally TAS when it was a print publication)), were for years the publications that held the liberal saturated MSM (they were called the "Media Elite" then) accountable. In the print political magazines, their main targets were TNR, The Nation, Time and Newsweek.

In fact, I believe they praised Martin Peretz' taking the editor in Chief title because he was perceived as somewhat pro Israel and not quite left enough for the fringe.

It's really just a rerun of... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:

It's really just a rerun of the same old story.

Lefty news outlet prints sensational story, gets tons of press from other lefty outlets.

Conservative blogs scrutinize story, find numerous flaws, and publicize same.

Lefty starts whining and attacking conservatives.

It's been that way since Rathergate. You'd think the lefties, who claim to be oh-so-intelligent, would learn by now.

BEAUCHAMP: "It's been ma... (Below threshold)
Lee Ward:

BEAUCHAMP: "It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join.

HMQ: "This bit is, in a word, odd. After all, if you truly don't aim "to play some role in an ideological battle that [you] never wanted to join," you probably shouldn't write incendiary columns for a left-leaning opinion magazine, now should you? Those adverse to ideological battles would be better off penning articles for, say, Dog Fancy.

It is difficult to believe that Private Beachamp is this naïve. Rather, this remark strikes us as entirely disingenuous. In the days to come, we suppose we'll see if the other charges tossed at Private Beachamp stick.

Beauchamp wrote what he represents are true, actual diary accounts.

The HMQ authors of this post are certiainly being disingenuous - they've already decided that he was not being truthful if they assume that his writings were intended to be incendiary before we find out if they are factual or not.

Writing factual, true diarist accounts of what he's witnessed and done is only incendiary if you want to hide the truth from others, or ignore the truth yourself.

Assuming Beauchamp intended to be incendiary is to assume he was lying... before that's been proven one way or the other.

The right is falling all over themselves to paint Beauchamp guilty before the facts are in. This post's blatant effort at doing the same, while hiding behind a false air of fairness - is as disingenuous as they come.

Lyin' Leeward, you seem to ... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:

Lyin' Leeward, you seem to have missed the point that he sent the articles to a political magazine, and one with a clear agenda.

So you're telling me a college graduate was too stupid to realize that sending articles to a political magazine might be used as ammo in an ideological battle?

You are too smart to believe that, Lyin' Leeward, so you must think that we are stupid enough to fall for it.

By the way, you still haven't proven or retracted the accusation that I am a Bush-bot, Lyin' Leeward. Just another lie from the king of lies.




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