And I don’t mean that they are going to have a pleasant autumn. To the contrary.
Power Line had a very important post Wednesday night, and the basic message was that the editors of The New Republic can run . . . but they can’t hide forever:
It is now two months since “the editors” last weighed in on the ongoing controversy over Beauchamp. At that time, Franklin Foer and his colleagues had already conceded, and apologized to their readers, for a significant factual inaccuracy in Beauchamp’s story — that the incident involving the disfigured woman had taken place in Kuwait rather than Iraq, though they’ve offered no evidence for this claim either, and the PAO at Camp Buehring, the scene of the alleged crime, has said on the record that the tale is nothing more than “an urban legend.” . . .
But on August 10 TNR declared that it was still standing by its author despite a report from the Weekly Standard that Beauchamp himself was no longer standing by the stories. “The editors” claimed that the Army was “stonewalling” their investigation into the matter by preventing them from speaking with Beauchamp, and assured their readers that as soon as they could speak with their man in Baghdad they would report the results.
Since then TNR has said not a word about Beauchamp, and the Weekly Standard’s report that Beauchamp had recanted has not been challenged. Further, Beauchamp’s commanding officer, Col. Ricky Gibbs, told bloggers last week that Beauchamp “no longer stands by the stories.” And yesterday Bob Owens reported that TNR had, in fact, spoken to Beauchamp…more than a month ago, on September 7. This according to Major Kirk Ludeke, whom Owens interviewed for his post. . . . . If TNR editor [Franklin] Foer thinks that the substance of the conversation with Scott Beauchamp can be permanently hidden from the public, he has made one more in what is now a long line of serious miscalculations.
Look. The editors of The New Republic aren’t stupid. I know they may seem that way, given the way that they have handled all this, but they’re not.
They know that very serious issues have been raised about Beauchamp’s work. They have minimized the importance of the detail about Kuwait, but any rational observer is going to find that disturbing. How in the world could Beauchamp have gotten that wrong? Taking my cue from one of my commenters, I have mocked this as “Pre Traumatic Stress Syndrome,” but the fact is that it is hard to explain that away as a minor detail.
One senses that, while the editors have publicly maintained a posture of defending Beauchamp, they have desperately scrambled internally — all the while wondering: just how in the hell is this happening? And central to answering that question would be having a discussion with Beauchamp himself.
Now they’ve had it, and it’s clear that it didn’t help them much.
My question is simple: if Scott Beauchamp can’t stand by his story, how can The New Republic stand by his story?
They haven’t revealed any significant details that would corroborate it.
Where I suspect this is headed is simple: the editors can’t hide forever. Sooner or later they are going to have to address this. And if they can’t get something solid from Beauchamp, then they are going to have to retract the story.
If they do that, they will throw him overboard. Count on it. The story line will be: it was a guy lying to his editors. How could they have known?
When this happens, I’ll remind you that I told you so.
Here’s the problem. With every second of the ticking clock, that defense becomes less plausible. Because — other than acknowledging one plain and undeniable and inexplicable error (more probably a fable than an error) — they have stuck by the story. And they have stonewalled for weeks.
The longer they do that, the more they own the story — especially after the criticisms are known.
After weeks and weeks and weeks of stonewalling, it’s going to be hard to spin this as a tale of “he lied to us.” They should know that by now. And by not responding, they are lying to us, the public.
And if, as Power Line suggests, the content of their conversation with Beauchamp becomes public, and it suggests that what I have said above is true — that despite a public face of confidence in their story, they were actually trembling with fear over their reputations — then the fallout will be very ugly indeed.
How much longer can this go on?