Patterico's Pontifications


My Proposed Correction for Tim Rutten’s Column on the Beauchamp Affair

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

Here is my proposed correction for Tim Rutten’s five factual errors from his recent column on the Scott Beauchamp matter.

In an October 27 column, Tim Rutten wrote that the editors of The New Republic had been “unable to communicate with” Scott Thomas Beauchamp since an Army spokesman had denied the existence of a signed statement by Beauchamp disavowing his piece. As Rutten’s column stated, editors from The New Republic claim to have spoken to Beauchamp at least three times since August 7, when the Army spokesman issued the denial.

In the same column, Rutten wrote that “the magazine determined that the incident involving the disfigured woman was concocted and corrected that . . .” In fact, the magazine did not determine that the incident was “concocted,” but admitted only that the incident took place in Kuwait, and not Iraq.

In the same column, Rutten wrote that Beauchamp had “described the ridicule of a disfigured Iraqi woman . . .” In fact, the woman has never been described as Iraqi.

Rutten also said that Beauchamp “described . . . attempts to run over stray dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles . . .” In fact, Beauchamp actually described three incidents in which military personnel had killed stray dogs.

In the same column, Rutten wrote that Matt Drudge had failed to provide a link to a purported “Memorandum for Record” signed by Beauchamp. Drudge did in fact provide such a link, but later took it down.

I have sent this proposal to Jamie Gold, the Readers’ Representative for the L.A. Times, with a copy to Tim Rutten.

Never let it be said that I don’t try to help.

We’ll see how close this comes to the final correction — that is, if one issues at all.

UPDATE: Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link. Readers coming in to this post might be interested in another post that considers whether Rutten violated the L.A. Times Code of Ethics by publishing self-serving statements from The New Republic personnel. If you enjoy these posts, I hope you will consider bookmarking the main page and returning in the future.

54 Responses to “My Proposed Correction for Tim Rutten’s Column on the Beauchamp Affair”

  1. Drudge was goiing to provide a link to:

    “a signed ‘Memorandum for Record’ in which Beauchamp recants his stories and concedes the facts of the Army’s investigation — that his stories contained ‘gross exaggerations and inaccurate allegations of misconduct’ by his fellow soldiers.”

    The one you point out just acknowledges receipt of the “Memorandum of Concern.”

    He doesn’t recant anything at all.

    Maybe that’s why Drudge took down the links?

    alphie (99bc18)

  2. Beauchamp didn’t recant the stories. That much is correct. Drudge oversold it.

    If Rutten had merely made that point, he would be quite accurate.

    But Drudge did put up the exact document that Rutten claims didn’t exist: the “Memorandum for Record.”

    And it says exactly what Rutten says it would say: it was merely an acknowledgement of receipt of the Army’s Memorandum of Concern. It acknowledged nothing.

    If only Rutten hadn’t questioned its existence, he could have made some great points.

    As it is, he did question the existence of a document that he should have read.


    Patterico (bad89b)

  3. It’s pretty good paragraph, Pat. I think they typically try for even more terseness, but what you have is quite good.

    TCO (79dafb)

  4. Yeah, well, it’s hard to be that terse in a correction that addresses five separate errors.

    Patterico (80512c)

  5. It was good man. Really. But a professional newspaperman could do even better.

    TCO (79dafb)

  6. As long as we’re splitting hairs here,

    Beauchamp acknowledged receiving a Memorandum of Concern dated 30 August 2007, yet the Memorandum of Concern in the .pdf file is dated 1 September 2007.

    Did Drudge’s source attach a phony Memorandum of Concern?

    Or maybe a phony Memorandum of Record?

    Or is it just a simple, innocent mistake by the Army (or whoever leaked these docs)?

    alphie (99bc18)

  7. Oh, a professional newspaperman could make it *much* shorter.

    All they have to do is refuse to acknowledge two or three errors.


    Patterico (252eca)

  8. Beauchamp acknowledged receiving a Memorandum of Concern dated 30 August 2007

    Cite, please.

    Pablo (99243e)

  9. And is it possible that, if such a cite exists, Beauchamp got the date wrong? I mean, really, he got a whole country and a couple of months wrong, didn’t he?

    Pablo (99243e)

  10. Why, Pablo,

    These docs are all over the net, but if you need help:

    alphie (99bc18)

  11. Only Alphie would turn a typist’s misdating of a memo and receipt by one day into a conspiracy.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  12. Hahaha,

    Is that irony, SPQR?

    alphie (99bc18)

  13. Alphie: you are correct that both sentences in the memo should be pen and ink changed. STB and the Army are in error there. We were talking about Rutten’s f..oul-up though.

    TCO (79dafb)

  14. TCO,

    Here’s Hot Air’s review of this .pdf file:

    The document ends with a copy of the “Memorandum of Understanding” from his Colonel accusing him of having violated regulations by publishing details about his unit’s deployment dates on his blog.

    No mention of the “Memorandum of Record”

    Perhaps there are two different .pdf files?

    One Rutten saw that had no “Memorandum of Record” and a later one with it appended?

    alphie (99bc18)

  15. Alphie, your attempts to explain away Rutten’s incompetence are indeed laughable. That Hot Air uses the wrong title for the commanding officer’s admonishment of Beauchamp is meaningless. And your seizure of that error and the misdating of the receipt signed by Beauchamp is equally silly.

    Anyone of average intelligence would recognize the memorandum if they had read the pdf.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  16. Alf – If that’s your argument, then it’s clear that Rutten took even less time to review the relevant documents before writing his article than you did before making comments on the subject, reinforcing what a shoddy job of journalism he perpetrated here.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  17. SPQR,

    The document Hot Air says the .pdf file “ends with” is a description of the “Memorandum of Concern:”

    …his Colonel accusing him of having violated regulations…


    Phony dates.

    Two different sources (Hot Air and Rutten) that didn’t see any Memorandum of Record at the end of the .pdf file.

    Looks like something might be fishy in far right land.

    Sounds like we need an…investigation!

    alphie (99bc18)

  18. Alph:

    1. You’re losing me. You are suspecting that there are two different pdfs running around? I don’t see a copy of the different pdf in the Hot Air review.

    2. One possible confusion could be in what the term “memorandum of record” means. I think there were some parts of the documentation that were clearly not included in the pdfs. Is that where you’re headed?

    TCO (79dafb)

  19. I hate to say it, but Alan Colmes does a better job carrying water for the Islamofascists than Alphie does for Tim Rutten.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  20. Then again, that’s basically not saying much of anything at all.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  21. Alf: You’re resorting to mockery and sophistry with the use of the word “phoney”.

    I think you also have a tendancy to want to circle the wagons versus think. The piece is poorly written and researched. That doesn’t mean that the author was an ideoloogue. (although it can help…) It just stands on it’s own as an assessment of the thing as poor work.

    TCO (79dafb)

  22. As usual, Alphie is the only person who is confused.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  23. If TNR had put out that .pdf with the mismatched dates, can you guys really say the far right bloodhounds wouldn’t be crying phony?

    And has Hot Air posted a correction (or an explanation) yet?

    The evidence points to a second .pdf file put out with a hastily appended Memorandum of Record.

    And you guys know it.

    alphie (99bc18)

  24. My goodness. When someone says “attempting”, it is a crisis of journalism. When dates are hazy, or headlines mistaken, that’s just a mistake.


    fishbane (1f2790)

  25. Hmmmmm,

    A little more:

    Here are the three docs on Hot Air along with their page info (Tools>Page info).
    Modified: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 12:20:23 PM
    Modified: Monday, October 29, 2007 9:55:01 PM
    Modified: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 12:19:19 PM

    stb2.pdf is the one with the (phony?) Memorandum of Record attached, btw.


    alphie (99bc18)

  26. Wazzup?

    All right Staunch Brayer:

    1. Have you contacted Allahpundit, Michelle Malkin or Bryan Preston about this?

    2. Have you compared this document from Hot Air to any other ones posted up anywhere on the web?

    3. If there is a difference, have you illustrated exactly what that difference is?

    I will bet $50 you didn’t do any of the above steps. I compared it to the one posted at Little Green Footballs, and guess what?

    There’s a Memorandum of Record there!

    Look for yourself.

    Paul (66339f)

  27. As usual, Alphie is the only person who is confused.
    Staunchly confused.

    Old Coot (20ca0f)

  28. alphie,

    You destroy any credibility you ever had with your eternal spinning, parsing, and taking out of context. You are not worth having around.

    PCD (b47ba5)

  29. Alphie,

    What is your overall point? Do you believe that Beauchamp’s writings were true and accurate?

    Do you believe that TNR has been honest in this affair?

    I’m not sure what you are attempting to demonstrate. If you believe that TNR has been open and honest, how do you explain their failure to report that the spoke with Beauchamp even while denying that they had talked with him?

    Or that they intentionally misled the Bradely vehicle expert that they used to back up their story?

    Or that they stood by the “disfigured woman” story even after it became clear that it was not true?

    Just curious as to what you think you are defending here.

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  30. as to the issue of “Memorandum of Record” vs. “Memorandum of Concern”

    As a former JAG, I can say that these kinds of Memos are usually called “Memornadum of Record” but for some reason, this one is styled “Memorandum of Concern” although both are exactly the same thing. They are issued the same way, meand the same thing, and are handled the same way.

    Thus, it is simply that some people are referring to it as a “Memorandum of Record” even thought it is titled a “Memorandum of Concern.”

    So, no conspiracy. There is no second “memo” out there, it is simply some people referring to it as one thing and others referring to it as the other. Everyone is talking about the same memo.

    My guess to the dating issue is that the Memo was created on August 30, 2007 (and was originally dated such), but was not signed by the commanding officer until Sept 1 – thus the date was changed at the top but whoever the secretary is failed to correct the Acknowledgment portion – although someone did cross off “August” and write in “September”.

    So, none of those things rises to the level of a “conspiracy”. Moreover, I would point out that neither TNR or the Army is claiming that any of these documents are fake. So, without anyone who would know claiming the documents are not real, how does someone without any knowledge (as to their veracity) go about claiming they aren’t real?

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  31. Follow all the links and your questions will be answered, my children.

    In my previous post detailing Rutten’s errors, I explained the difference between the two memoranda:

    Actually, the Memorandum for Record was included among the documents posted by Drudge, and is still readable at many of the various sites that copied and reposted the documents. For one example, click here and scroll to the last two pages. The Memorandum of Concern is the second to last page. The Memorandum for Record, acknowledging receipt of the Memorandum of Concern, is the last page.

    Go forth and double-check my assertion. You will find that any other set of documents is the same, including the one at Hot Air.

    And then be not troubled by the pointless jabbering of alphie, who will never acknowledge his blatant error in this area, or his failure to carefully read my posts, which could have saved him much embarrassment.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  32. Why, Pablo,

    These docs are all over the net, but if you need help:

    Haha. Is that irony?

    This from a guy who, days ago, was asking us for links to the documents — even though I had already given them in my post.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  33. OK, I’m going to set up another of my alphie tests. It usually seems to take threats to get him to comply.

    Having made such a big deal of this, his next comment must contain some acknowledgement that he was wrong — and that, sure enough, the docs do indeed contain a Memorandum for Record as their last document.

    No, it doesn’t acknowledge the truth of what the Memorandum of Concern says, and I never claimed it did. Fine. I still want an acknowledgment from alphie that the Memorandum for Record exists and that alphie was wrong to waste our time on this without checking the docs himself first.

    It’s a test of basic honesty. Failure to comply = one week timeout.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  34. Patterico,

    I understand what you are saying, and indeed the acknowledgment page is entitled “Memorandum of Record”. But, my experience (again, as a JAG) is that the entire thing (i.e., the part of the memorandum that outlines what the individual did wrong as well as the acknowledgment) is usuall entitled a “Memorandum of Record”. I.e., the entire thing is usually the “Memorandum of Record”. For some reason, someone got cute here and entitled the first portion a “Memorandum of Concern” – but it is the same exact thing as a “Memorandum of Record”.

    A “Memorandum of Record” is simply an administrative tool allowing commanders to admonish a soldier. Usually, if the soldier does not screw up again w/in a certain time-frame, then the Memorandum is destroyed and does not become an official part of the soldier’s record. This “Memorandum of Concern” is exactly that. It is simply being called something else – but it is a “Memorandum of Record.”

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  35. Great Banana,

    That’s fine. Nothing you have said provides an “out” for Rutten (or alphie, for that matter) to claim no Memorandum for Record was provided by Drudge.


    So Rutten was wrong, and alphie has wasted our time.

    Patterico (945e09)

  36. Patterico, Alphie is never embarrassed at wasting our time. One soon gets the impression that that is the troll’s point.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  37. You are correct sir.

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  38. What nitpicking trollish bullshit.

    AlpoTroll is blowing up a single, minor, irrelevant inaccuracy in Drudge’s posting in order to push his contention that the documents should be discounted in full.

    He’s not attacking the accuracy of anything in the documents; he’s saying that they’re inaccurate because Beauchamp allegedly said so to Franklin Foer and Drudge said one inaccurate thing that has nothing to do with the accuracy of the documents themselves.

    How is ignoring AlpoTroll going Patterico? How is engaging with him going? This is bullshit.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  39. Bob Owens has a similar takedown of Rutten. His final paragraphs are apt:

    “A solider who lied in a series of stories and who has been punished for those lies is a minor story once he drops out of the public spotlight; a national magazine editors attempting to orchestrate a cover-up, smear critics, and then attempts to play the victim card? That’s news.

    “Not that Tim Rutten is capable of finding any. There is a reason he writes for the L.A. Times.

    “He’s not a capable enough journalist to hack it in the blogosphere.”

    Charles Bird (94351d)

  40. “What nitpicking trollish bullshit.”

    O’ wad some poower the giftie gi’e us, tae see o’orsels as ithers see us.

    –Robbie Burns

    alphie (99bc18)

  41. Those documents are legit.

    All alphie had to do is ask the PAO.

    Confederate Yankee (44c4ed)

  42. The point is to attack, attack, attack – not to address the actual issue at hand – which is why has TNR failed to be open and honest.

    Even if you assume that they still believe Beauchamp’s stories to be true, why did not they lie about not being able to speak w/ Beauchamp? Why lie about the reason they don’t have the Army report?

    If you assume that they honestly believe Beauchamp’s veracity (in his original version of events as published in TNR), these other, easily disproven, lies make no sense.

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  43. “What nitpicking trollish bullshit.”

    O’ wad some poower the giftie gi’e us, tae see o’orsels as ithers see us.

    –Robbie Burns

    Comment by alphie — 10/30/2007 @ 7:47 am

    I believe that would fail the “some understanding that he was wrong” test…


    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  44. I wasn’t aware that AlpoTroll was such a close companion of Robert Burns’s that he feels comfortable calling him “Robbie” – particularly since, you know, Robert Burns died over 200 years ago.

    But still, bravo at the ad hominem instead of replying to the substance of my post! I suppose you know that you can’t keep up with me, so your only recourse is personal attack because Patterico has, so far, been rather paper tiger-ish towards you. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    chaos (aad1e2)

  45. The Laddies by the banks o Nith
    Wad trust his Grace wi a’ alphie;
    But he’ll sair them, as he sair’d the King-
    Turn tail and rin awa, alphie.

    – adapted from Robbie Burns,
    Up an Waun Them a’ Jamie

    Marko (c12bca)

  46. GBanana:
    Are you *sure* that an MOC MOR are the same? I know from the Air Force HAS 2 (well actually more than that…[grin]) types of bad paper, and LOCs (Letter Of Concern & Counc. ), LORs (Letter of Record), LOAs (Letter Of [Administrative] Action), etc.

    The difference, for example, between an LOC & LOR, is that an LOC is removed from your record during the next PCS, but an LOR is forever… but the issuer can pull it.

    I know where of I speak, having had these impinge upon my personage [grin*2]

    – martin.musculus

    martin.musculus (2e121b)

  47. Martin,

    I may be wrong, it has been awhile, but I think I am correct. I believe that the Commanding officer usually has the discretion to make a MOR permanent, or, as in this case, temporary, but that calling it a Memorandum of Conern versus a Memorandum of Record does not mean anything. What matters is what the Commanding officer decides to do with it.

    I could be wrong about them being the same exact thing, but I believe I am correct that people are using the two terms interchangably talking about this specific document. Also, it would make no sense for the acknowledgment page to be a “Memorandum of Record” while the document itself is a “Memorandum of Concern.” It’s not like the acknowledgment page is going to be separately placed in someone’s record w/o the main document. That would make no sense and have no meaning.

    Thus, my guess is that it was originally going to be called a “Memorandum of Record” and when the change to “Memorandum of Concern” was made, the typist did not change the heading on the acknowledgment page, the same way typist failed to change the date on the acknowledgment page.

    But, ultimately, it makes no difference. The documents have been identified by the Army as legit, and even TNR does not claim they are not authentic. So, TNR’s defenders, such as alphie, are really grasping at straws to avoid the truth in this matter.

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  48. Are there multiple versions of 3.pdf out there?

    I downloaded the three PDFs from Drudge at 1:53PM CDT 10-24-2007, and still have them.
    3.pdf is 3,039,940 bytes in size.
    Its properties (as displayed by Adobe Reader 8) have no creation timestamp, and a mod timestamp of 8/24/2007 9:40:51AM.
    The contents (indicated by page numbers of the PDF doc) are:
    1-2 Memorandum for Commander, signed by William J. Johnson
    3-7 Memorandum for Commander, signed by John D. Cross
    8-9 Table of Contents
    10 Report of Proceedings, DA1574

    My guess as to why Drudge took them down: 3.pdf contains the names and unit affiliations of the soldiers interviewed by the investigators.

    gp (72be5d)

  49. Why are people talking about “Memorandum of Record” and “Memorandum of Concern” when the things are titled “Memorandum for Commander?”

    BTW, the only reason I think the STB story is important is because of TNR’s mishandling of it. They should have retracted the stories months ago. After the Glass thing, and Lee Siegel, and that other guy whose name I forgot, I’d expect TNR to be super-scrupulous about the accuracy of their content and the reliability of their contributors.

    gp (72be5d)

  50. Alpho reminds me of the Rosenburg defenders. But its nice to know we still have true believers with us.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  51. GP, those three titles refer to three different documents located in two different files originally posted on Drudge.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  52. I never get tired of alway being right.


    corona (dd769a)

  53. always, even

    corona (dd769a)

  54. Pat: I totally disagree with your “test”. Sure Alphie is being a bit sophistic (adj?), but one can call him on that and engage by forcing him to make explicit assertions, by refuting the Johnie did it so Frankie can argument, etc. etc.

    BUT WHAT’s totally wrong with your test is that the running dog nitwits on our side do crap posts all the time. Take Chaos or similar low-middlebrow Limbaugh listeners.

    And alphie actually had a decent point (once I got over my reaction to his over-terseness) that your first “error” is really the weakest. And really more of an error of rhetoric than knowledge of the subject (an error none the less, but still an insight to note differences.)


    TCO (3b23ad)

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