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Shoddy Reporting on Both Sides… And the Difference…

Michelle is reporting [1] on more shoddy reporting [2]… this time from NRO…

Ugh. This is bad [2] on many levels. W. Thomas Smith, Jr., a former Marine and milblogger who writes at National Review Online’s The Tank (and whose work in Iraq I’ve praised and linked to here [3]), posts a long-winded defense of bogus, shoddy reporting he published while he was in Lebanon earlier this fall.

Michelle also points out something rather crucial:

Kathryn Lopez [4], to her credit, immediately disclosed the controversy to readers. Contrary to the TNR editors [5], she thanked the reporter who first questioned Smith’s account, instead of trashing critics. Writes Lopez:

Bottom line: NRO strives to bring you reliable analysis and reporting — whether in presenting articles, essays, or blog posts. Smith did commendable work in Lebanon earlier this year, as he does from S.C. where he is based, as he has done from Iraq, where he has been twice. But rereading some of the posts (see “The Tank” for more detail) and after doing a thorough investigation of some of the points made in some of those posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that NRO should have provided readers with more context and caveats in some posts from Lebanon this fall. And so I apologize to you, our readers.

I thank Smith for his good, brave work. He’s a smart, reliable reporter with a great patriotic spirit and sense of service. We owe him and our readers better — we should have gotten you more context and information before a post or two went live. It’s understandable how it happened — the nature of blogging being what it is — but given what an underreported tinderbox we’re talking about, especially, we owed you more. We weren’t blogging about Dancing with the Stars there.

So I’m grateful to the reporter who contacted Smith with questions. He brought them to my attention. We did due diligence. We’ve reported this back to him. And now we’re reporting back to you.

The problem is that “more context” and “caveats” aren’t what was needed. Just the facts would have sufficed. Smith’s work in those posts was not “good” or “brave.” And “the nature of blogging” doesn’t excuse the phenomenal errors. Given Smith’s admissions, “reliable” is not a word that should attach to his Lebanon reporting.

I don’t think so, either. But here’s the thing; Where was TNR’s equivalent of KJL, when Beauchamp was fabricating? More, where were the lefties when the Beauchamp fabrication story started coming out?

Maybe that’s why the response from the left side of the ‘sphere has been rather subdued… As fellow Swamp Stomper Sister Toldjah [6]says:

It’s a study in contrast between two popular online opinion outlets when questioned about the credibility of their reporting. TNR decided to try and put their accusers on the defensive, while feigning shock that anyone could possibly dare question their reporting, while NRO understood and addressed the concerns, apologized, and didn’t lay the blame on the factcheckers.


Addendum: Bluto, writing at Jawa [7], agrees:

Contrast NRO’s reaction to The New Republic’s months of stonewalling and complaints of conspiracies within the military before issuing a lugubrious pseudo-retraction [8]. Note also that Lopez manages to make her point in four succinct paragraphs, while TNR’s Franklin Foer blathered on for 13 pages before coming to the point, sort of, on the fourteenth.

Heh… a firm grasp on the obvious, this boy… Always liked him. (grin)