As I see it, here are the major takeaway items from Franklin Foer’s piece on Scott Thomas Beauchamp. I spoke to Bob Owens and he confirmed that these facts were revealed for the first time in Foer’s piece.
- Beauchamp’s wife was involved the fact-checking of Beauchamp’s pieces.
See page 3 of the 14-page statement:
But there was one avoidable problem with our Beauchamp fact-check. His wife, Reeve, was assigned a large role in checking his third piece. While we believe she acted with good faith and integrity–not just in this instance, but throughout this whole ordeal–there was a clear conflict of interest. At the time, our logic–in hindsight, obviously flawed–was that corresponding with a soldier in Iraq is logistically difficult and Reeve was already routinely speaking with him. It was a mistake–and we’ve imposed new rules to prevent future fact-checking conflicts of interest.
It takes new rules to ensure that someone’s spouse is not involved in fact-checking their pieces?
- One of the corroborating witnesses for Beauchamp’s tales was removed from Iraq by the Army due to mental health problems.
Beauchamp had described Kiple to me as the figure in his story who stabs his mashed potatoes in disgust at the sight of the disfigured woman and cracks jokes at her expense. When the “Shock Troops” controversy emerged, Kiple was in the process of leaving the military and was being held at a base in Germany. He told me the Army had removed him from Iraq on mental health grounds. Once in Germany, he had gotten into trouble for “out on the town stuff” and “resisting arrest.” We’d left messages on his MySpace page for him to call. Several days after Beauchamp went incommunicado, Kiple called me on a Saturday morning.
Kiple understood that he didn’t make the ideal witness, given his current predicament. But he did recall the events Beauchamp described.
So TNR told us that there were corroborating witnesses — but neglected to mention a credibility issue like this?
We also learn that the other corroborating witnesses for Beauchamp’s story were Beauchamp’s buddies. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall that having been disclosed previously either.
As I said, the fallout is going to be ugly.
UPDATE: Bob Owens’s Pajamas Media piece is out. Read it here.