Blinded By Bias

Ed Morrissey has an excellent piece on The New Republic coming clean on the Scott Thomas Beauchamp controversy. They’re now admitting that they got hoodwinked once again, and that they didn’t check their facts. When Beauchamp’s wife is assigned to ensuring the accuracy of his piece, there’s already a massive red flag. TNR let their ideological biases get in the way, and it blinded them to the fact that they were being had.

If this were an isolated incident, it would be one thing. However, the Beauchamp scandal is emblematic of a larger problem within the American media. As the figures show, the vast majority of American journalists are ideologically homogenous—they believe in left-wing ideals and view the world through that ideological prism. Which means that the stories the tell are stories that have been twisted by those ideological assumptions. The Beauchamp story didn’t get published because The New Republic wanted to smear the troops, it got published because the story fit their own preconceptions of American servicemembers as either political pawns or mindless kill-bots. So few journalists have military experience that stories like a Bradley driver swerving to kill a dog didn’t set off their BS-detectors because almost none of them know what a Bradley Armored Vehicle looks like. Without that knowledge, it becomes harder to distinguish what’s fact and what’s convenient fiction.

Despite Franklin Foer’s lengthy attempt at apologia, the reality is that they hoodwinked again. They got what they wanted, not what was true, and they didn’t have the foresight to check their facts. It may have been a mistake borne from ignorance rather than malice, but it was a mistake none the less. To have come from a magazine that had already been the victim of another scam journalist (Stephen Glass) makes this sort of error even less understandable.

TNR has, sadly, frittered away its credibility. At the very least Franklin Foer should take responsibility and step down, along with all those who handled this story. Instead, he spends a great deal of time blaming others for their mistake. So long as that attitude prevails, TNR is unlikely to regain the credibility lost in this affair.