'Please Don't Read This' Headline Leads Incomplete AP Beauchamp Story

One needs to look no further than the Associated Press's story on the Scott Beauchamp saga to understand why the general public not following the news closely doesn't "get" just how biased and antagonistic towards the war, the military, and American soldiers Old Media outlets are.

In the case of Scott Beauchamp, now that their brethren at The New Republic (TNR) have been caught red-handed publishing made-up stories, John Milburn and Ellen Simon of the Associated Press appear to be doing everything they can to cover for them -- first, with a headline (probably determined elsewhere within AP) that fails to communicate anything resembling the essence of the story, and second, by struggling mightily in their reporting to make it appear that this is a "he said, she said" dispute, instead of a situation where Beauchamp and TNR have been thoroughly discredited.

Here's the headline:

Army denounces articles written by GI

Trouble is, Paragraphs 4 through 7 of the story make it clear that this is no mere denunciation -- it's a complete repudiation that the person the Army is supposedly only "denouncing" agrees with:

The Army said this week it had concluded an investigation of Beauchamp's claims and found them false.

"During that investigation, all the soldiers from his unit refuted all claims that Pvt. Beauchamp made in his blog," Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview.

The Weekly Standard said Beauchamp signed a sworn statement admitting all three articles were exaggerations and falsehoods.

Calls to Editor Franklin Foer at The New Republic in Washington were not returned, but the magazine said on its website that it has conducted its own investigation and stands by Beauchamp's work.

This is rich -- TNR is standing by work its author has refuted.

And even the paragraphs above aren't right. Separately, and before the statement ascribed to Timmons, The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb (who, quite rudely, isn't named by AP) didn't merely "say" that Beachamp recanted (as if it were just a rumor). Goldfarb had, and has, at least two sources (bold is mine):

Beauchamp Recants

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.

Separately, we received this statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad: "An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims."

Although a deeper look at Google News shows that the deceptive headline in USA Today is not being universally used, it is at multiple places. The following shows Google News results as of about 2PM on a search for the words in the USAT headline ("Army Denounces Articles Written by GI," without quotes):

GoogNewsBeauchamp080807

Note the use of an old picture of someone not at all related to the story -- military poseur Jesse MacBeth, who was exposed as a fraud year.

Now here's a Google News search on "Army denounces 3 articles written by GI" (also without quotes) done at about the same time:

GoogNewsBeauchamp3head080807

A general Google search on USAT headline above (again, without quotes) shows that the following other outlets are running with the deceptive headline accompanying the AP story:

Surely more outlets will carry the deceptive headline as the day wears on, accompanied by the weak coverage follows it. The story, presented as it is in non-compelling fashion, won't most likely no make the evening news or the top-of-hour radio broadcasts.

So most of the 85% of the country not paying close attention to the news will be no wiser to the real truth of the Beauchamp affair. AP's mission would appear to be accomplished.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.