Hey, remember Scott Thomas Beauchamp? He was quite a big story in the starboard half of the Blogosphere in 2007. But if you don’t, click here, search the archives here, watch the video below, and bring yourself up to speed:
While plenty on the right pointed out the flaws in Beauchamp’s stories, he did find at least one defender. As Cuffy Meigs writes at his At his Perfunction blog, “JournoList Tough Guy Ackerman Mentors FabuList Soldier Beauchamp:”
Why would Ackerman take a thoroughly humiliated Beauchamp under his wing? It all goes back to Ackerman’s severely dysfunctional relationships with his professional colleagues at The New Republic:
By 2006, [Franklin Foer] had instituted a policy of fucking me over.
I have one score in particular that I badly need to settle. The story of Snitching Ryan Lizza.
I was standing on my porch, smoking a cigarette while it rained, my voice trembling, my hands trembling. I called Lizza a lot of colorful names. My friend Kate came up the stairs and looked vaguely frightened at how angry I was. Two days later I was fired.
Spencer Ackerman was fired from TNR in October 2006. The next year, TNR became embrolied in L’Affaire Beauchamp, publishing “Scott Thomas’s” war crime fabrications. The blogosphere methodically dismantled Beauchamp’s stories and TNR was forced to issue an embarrassing retraction. And in a fit of retribution against his TNR over-fuckers, Ackerman sprang in to action, becoming the only writer to defend Beauchamp well after his fabrications were debunked:
Scott Thomas Beauchamp did not lie and did not misrepresent his service. The New Republic’s investigation did not uncover any such misrepresentation, and yet the magazine threw him under the bus to spare itself the controversy.
Ackerman’s Radar Online piece is nowhere to be found today (ouch, Penny), but Bob Owens’ contemporary fisking of Ackerman’s Beauchamp defense is still available and is well worth a read.
So there you have it. Fueled by immature vendettas, Ackerman stood by a journalistic pariah and continues to do so to this day.
Actually, the first page of Ackerman’s Radar Online piece is still online at the Internet Archive Wayback machine. Here’s an excerpt:
Leading the charge was Michael Goldfarb of the conservative Weekly Standard. In a blog post published on July 18, Goldfarb, now a chief communications aide to John McCain, took issue with several claims in the story and suggested that Beauchamp had made them up. Other right-wing commentators quickly piled on, casting suspicion on nearly every detail in the piece, from whether “Scott Thomas” was really a soldier at all to the physics of maneuvering Bradleys to the likelihood of soldiers wearing bits of human bone as beanies. To some, the whole affair looked like the second coming of Stephen Glass, the prolific young TNR writer whose fictitious articles almost brought down the magazine in 1998 and inspired the 2003 film Shattered Glass.
But Beauchamp was of only tangential interest to the neocon attack squad. The real target was the venerable New Republic, which its attackers generally loathed as a liberal rag—despite TNR‘s early and vituperative support for the war. Weekly Standard editor William Kristol penned a piece called “They Don’t Really Support the Troops,” arguing that the Beauchamp story proved that the “antiwar left” sought the “slander of American soldiers” using “fiction presented as fact.” Among neoconservative war apologists and self-anointed superpatriots, it became a crusade: Beauchamp must be proven a liar, and TNR must be humiliated.
In contrast, nobody on the JournoList would humiliate the New Republic, right?