How 'The New Republic Got Suckered' by Beauchamp
In an August 19 post at PajamasMedia, journalist and bestselling author Richard Miniter delved into the question of "How the New Republic Got Suckered" in the case of the fabricated stories of military blogger Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Among the questions Miniter raised was if TNR's fact-checking operation is "structurally flawed":
Let’s go into the fact-checking department. Elspeth Reeve was one of three fact-checkers at the magazine.
Did she fact-check her husband’s articles? While it is hard to believe that an established magazine would make such an elementary error, so far no one at the magazine has bothered to address the question. That’s an interesting omission.
Even if Reeve did not double-check her husband’s reporting, she worked alongside the other two fact-checkers and often shared a take-out lunch with them in the magazine’s conference room. They liked her. Would they really treat Beauchamp’s pieces like an article that floated in from a stranger?
At any publication, staff writing is less closely scrutinized than freelance material. Not coincidentally, virtually all of the journalistic fabrication scandals of the past 30 years—from The Washington Post’s Janet Cooke to The New York Times’ Jayson Blair—involved staff writers. Insiders. Trusted people.
More pointedly, the last two sets of New Republic journalistic scandals—Ruth Shalit and Stephen Glass—were perpetrated by staffers.
Scott Thomas Beauchamp was not a staffer; he may not have ever stepped foot in The New Republic’s two-floor rabbit warren of offices. But he was an insider, through his wife.
Perhaps the fact-checkers believed that they didn’t have to check his work thoroughly because they knew and trusted his wife, who they affectionately called “Ellie.”