Bloggers on Franklin Foer's mea culpa.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Dec. 3 2007 6:43 PM

TNR Retreats

The New Republic issues a "Shock Troops" mea culpa, but bloggers aren't in a forgiving mood. They are skeptical of election results in Russia, and they review Don Imus' return to radio. 

TNR retreats: New Republic Editor Franklin Foer has written a lengthy account of the Scott Beauchamp affair and concludes that "we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them." TNR published a series of dispatches from Iraq by Beauchamp, the last of which, "Shock Troops," described outrageous behavior by American soldiers and attracted months of scrutiny and criticism from conservative bloggers led by Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard and Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee.

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Michelle Malkin offers a blunt response: "The maxi-mea culpa runs more than 10 pages and thousands and thousands of words (self-pitying, rationalizing, messenger-blaming), but this is the belated bottom line: The Beauchamp stories are bullcrap." Scott Johnson at conservative blog PowerLine is even blunter: "It is a pathetic, evasive, self-justifying, self-pitying, and deeply dishonest emission of verbal fog. Too bad … that he didn't just apologize in a manly and direct way long ago."  Several others are looking for an apology, too, including AllahPundit at HotAir, who says Foer's piece "puts up more smoke than a forest fire" and Goldfarb himself, who calls the story "a 7,000 word apologia (in which he never apologizes!--not to his readers, nor to his critics, whom he attacked and derided, but who were right, nor to the troops)."

Bob Owens, who's blogged on the story for months at Confederate Yankee, writes at Pajamas Media that this is a career-killer for Foer: "The bottom line is that the Scott Beauchamp debacle was a test of editorial character for The New Republic under Franklin Foer's leadership. … Even to the end, Foer continues to blame everyone else for his continuing editorial failures, penning a fourteen-page excuse without a single, 'I'm sorry.' The readers and staff deserve better, and it is past time for Franklin Foer to leave The New Republic."

Conservative Andrew Sullivan, editor of the New Republic from 1991 to '96, puts things in perspective. Of the editors at the magazine, he writes, "They are hawkish Democrats with a very long record of support and respect for the military. … [I]t seems to me that the obvious motive behind the Beauchamp piece was to get some vivid first-person war-reporting in the magazine, to convey what it's actually like to be a soldier. … They picked the wrong soldier; and they were too defensive in trying to figure out what happened (which is still unclear to me); and they should never have assigned his wife as his fact-checker. But to ascribe a treasonous or anti-troop motive to them is beyond the pale."

Read more about the Scott Beauchamp mess.

"United" Russia: Vladimir Putin's party captured 315 of 450 seats in the Duma in Sunday's parliamentary elections, an unsurprising result after widespread reports of a high degree of government involvement in "managing" the election. United Russia has a big enough majority to amend the constitution, which currently prohibits Putin from seeking another term.

Conservative Mark Noonan at Blogs for Victory (formerly Blogs for Bush) writes: "Putin should realize that all he's done is set up a dictatorial system which is bound to suppress Russia's ability to fully harness its resources while at the same time opening up the myriad opportunities for corruption which has always been the bane of Russian progress."

At Outside the Beltway, James Joyner concedes Putin's popularity and writes: "So, while United Russia assuredly wouldn't have won by these margins in elections held according to international norms, the order of finish might well have been identical. What happens next is unclear. Putin is constitutionally prohibited from remaining in office past next year. Will he now change the constitution? Or simply rule under a different title?"

At Global Voices, Veronica Khokhlova translates bits of Russian blog posts into English, some of which hint at voter intimidation.