Matthew Yglesias wants people to stop being mean to The New Republic, thus establishing young Matthew as a key component of the Mary Mapes school of journalism, where truthiness in the causes of the left forgives all. “All these people need to stop,” exclaims Ygelsias. “They need to take a deep breath. They need to apologize to the people at TNR who’ve wasted huge amounts of time dealing with their nonsense.”
John Podhoretz makes the point that the key question is whether Beauchamp’s allegations are true, but I think John is wrong to conclude that the circumstances of how Beauchamp came to be published are irrelevant. How The New Republic selects its correspondents and how it checks their work are of course central issues in judging the magazine’s reputation both in the present and going forward. How its own writers react to the unfolding controversy also reflects on them, which is why I keep checking The Plank to see when the gang over there will decide to step up and defend the magazine or announce their dismay.
I recall how the editorial staff at the Los Angeles Times staged a mutiny when the paper entered into the (in journalism circles) infamous Staples Center deal.
I recall as well how the Jayson Blair scandal engulfed the entire New York Times’ organization for weeks.
Well here we have one of nation’s oldest –and until recent years– deeply respected magazines of political opinion mired in a controversy that tells us a great deal about the editorial judgments of its leadership –and its blogging staff.
So I have to disagree with J-Pod: All the details matter in formulating a judgment not just about the Beauchamp piece, but about the magazine’s credibility generally and especially with regard to its editorial opinions about the war. If the accusations made by Beauchamp turn out to be complete fabrications, it will not be the worst possible outcome for the magazine. The worst kind of outcome for the magazine is if the accusations, like Mapes’ fantasy documents, turn out to be complete fabrications that ought to have been obvious but which were not discovered because of staff politics or ideological blinkers.
It is possible that Private Beauchamp saw the things he saw, and that would exonerate him as a writer, though not necessarily in the eyes of his comrades in the field, from whom we have not yet heard. He may also find that what he though was funny –if true– turns out not to be funny to the higher command, but in fact the occasion for court martial. I don’t know, though I suspect we all will in fairly short order.
I do know that Dean’s central point –that TNR published a piece designed to give its readers a horrible impression of America’s military which is in fact doing a superb job under very difficult conditions– hasn’t been rebutted by anyone. That TNR is anti-military seems to me as obvious as Mapes’ anti-Bush inclination. Certainly a magazine that respected and valued the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines would not casually publish such a column as Beauchamp’s, period.
UPDATE: More from Ace:
He won’t get the job. For one thing, he’s qualified. For another thing, he can’t be guaranteed to deliver the anti-military fictions Beauchamp did.
For a third thing, he’s not going steady with anyone at TNR.
Allah’s got lots of updates, hard to keep up with it all.