In the continuing story of Private Scott Beauchamp and the disputed, and partially discredited, “Baghdad Diarist” stories he wrote for The New Republic, there’s yet another wrinkle.
I’m not talking about the debates over the anonymous source who told The Weekly Standard that Beauchamp signed documents stating that he made everything up—something that no one, not even the Army, has confirmed—or how thoroughly TNR tried to fact-check his pieces before they went to print.
What I’m talking about is the intellectually dishonest narrative that is being injected into the debate; a narrative which holds that—against all evidence to the contrary—TNR’s editors are anti-war lefties out to smear the military, and that the American media views American soldiers as bloodthirsty monsters. It is an argument based on assumption and conjecture, and a quick look at recent history blows it to bits. But that hasn’t stopped several columnists from intentionally ignoring the facts in order to score partisan points.
Charles Krauthammer weighs in on the issue this morning, asking, “Why did the New Republic run” Beauchamp’s story?
Because it fits perfectly into the most virulent narrative of the antiwar left. The Iraq war - ‘George Bush’s war’… has caused not only the sorrow and destruction that we read about every day. It has, most perniciously, caused invisible damage… It has perverted and corrupted the young soldiers who went to Iraq, and now return morally ruined.
That’s quite a statement.
The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, who has been all over the Beauchamp story, read from the same partisan cue card yesterday when he toldNewsweek—without a shred of evidence to back it up—that “this story fits really well into [TNR’s] narrative and the left’s narrative of the soldier as both victim and perpetrator of the war.”
But a piece by Jeff Emanuel in the National Review today really takes the cake. Emanuel (who is currently embedded with the Army in Iraq), seems—more than even mind-readers like Krauthammer and Goldfarb—to be able to glean the private thoughts of TNR editors and the press in general, which gives rise to an unintentionally hilarious bit of sloppy partisan posturing. He writes that TNR “offered stories by Beauchamp which validated their views of the military and of the war”
Emanuel has apparently decided that the press is convinced that the majority of American soldiers are little more than immoral brutes, and that stories like the ones Beauchamp told are “the rule in the United States military, rather than the exception.” If you think I’m taking this quote out of context, Emanuel makes this point two more times, each time failing to make even the most rudimentary attempt to back his charges up with examples of this monolithic mindset in the press.
He says further down that:
If one assumes that the magazine’s editors and its allies on the Left had been waiting for just this opportunity — an opportunity not only to validate their deeply held views of the American military…then its easier to see why they ran these articles without thoroughly checking them.” He caps his piece off with another shot: “members of the press are still searching for the Next Big Story which will show the military for the inhuman, war-scarred outfit they believe it to be.
All this TNR “hates the troops” stuff can be refuted pretty easily. But it shouldn’t have to be, since Krauthammer, Goldfarb, and Emanuel are all bright guys, and are therefore no doubt fully aware that they’re spinning some serious bullshit. That’s why they don’t even attempt to support their allegations with evidence.
All three, if pressed, would likely recall that TNR was a pretty big supporter of the war, publishing plenty of pieces explicitly calling for war in 2002 and early 2003. And Senior Editor Lawrence F. Kaplan can hardly be called an “anti-war lefty,” since he has written pieces as recently as a few months ago arguing against a hasty withdrawal from Iraq. The magazine even published an editor’s note in May supporting the “surge” of 30,000 more troops into Iraq.