Jul 24 2007

TNR’s Thomas Sham Affair

Published by at 9:37 am under All General Discussions

It seems liberals are being liberal with the truth again, now promulgating fictional anecdotes that smear our military men and women risking their lives on the front lines of our war in Iraq:

“Thomas” describes three instances of shocking behavior by U.S. troops. In the first, his buddies humiliate a woman in the chow hall who was disfigured by an IED. In the second, a soldier excavating a mass grave puts a portion of a child’s skull on his head and wears it like a helmet for an entire day. In the third, the driver of a Bradley fighting vehicle deliberately runs over a dog in the street.

But soldiers currently serving at FOB Falcon say they’ve never seen a woman there fitting Scott Thomas’ description. (There are only a handful of women, and just one small mess hall on the base.) They also find incredible Thomas’ claim he couldn’t tell whether the woman was a soldier or a civilian. (Soldiers in Iraq wear their uniforms — and carry their weapons — at all times.) “There was no mass grave found during the construction of our Coalition outposts at any time,” Major Kirk Luedeke, the public affairs officer at FOB Falcon, emailed milblogger Matt Sanchez.

According to Thomas’ story, the dog was on the right side of the vehicle, because the driver turned right to strike it. The driver’s hatch is on the left side of the Bradley. Immediately to the driver’s right is the cooling grill of the engine compartment, which rises above the driver’s hatch, making it impossible for him to see anything on the right side of the vehicle.

“Even if the driver was head out, he still couldn’t see anything to his right below the level of the top deck (all armored vehicles have significant blind spots close in, which is why they need dismounts to protect them from RPG guys in foxholes),” Stuart Koehl emailed Mr. Goldfarb. “So if the driver ‘twitched’ the Bradley to the right, he must have used extrasensory perception in order to catch the dog, because there is no way he knew the dog was even there.”

News organizations have only one asset – their reputations for providing informed and accurate information to the people. One thing I know about Americans is they cannot stand to be lied to or manipulated. TNR may have made a blunder similar to other news organizations that have used fake documents, such as with RaTHergate and the Downing Street Memos), or used sexed up photographs from Lebanon as well as a terrorist ambulance driver and his incredible stories of massacre. This trend to exaggerate the news is nothing new in a dying industry.

But, unlike these previous acts of criminal incompetence by major world news organizatons, TNR is probably not established enough to whither the storm of lying to its readers. Incompetence is no excuse, and I doubt anyone will buy it now. Why would they? Once your word is trash there is no way to believe what is said. The fact TNR is doing the investigation itself tells me they have a big problem they hope to spin their way out of. But the CBS News experience shows that only an outside group and some heads on the pike will be sufficient to garner a second chance at regaining their reputation. If you have to lie to salvage your position you have already lost the debate.

One response so far

One Response to “TNR’s Thomas Sham Affair”

  1. Cobalt Shiva says:

    Some of this guy’s stuff is so over-the-top that he’s practically daring people to catch him.

    My first thought when I read this stuff was to remember the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story.

    A fairy tale begins with the words, Once upon a time . . .

    A sea story begins with the words, Now this ain’t no (fecal material) . . .

    Having been a Marine, I can attest that people in the military sometimes feel perfectly free to play extremely perverse practical jokes on each other and on poor, unsuspecting civilians. And, in the absence of hard fact, I will speculate irresponsibly and say that TNR is on the receiving end of a particularly perverse practical joke.

    Perhaps “Scott Thomas” has a bet with someone in his unit.

    Thomas: “I’ll bet that I can get those (expletive deleted) morons from The New Republic to buy in on this BS I’m writing for X days/weeks/months.”

    Fellow soldier: “No (expletive deleted) way, dude, nobody’s that (expletive deleted) stupid, not even a(n) (obscene adjectival modifer) journalist.”

    Thomas: “$200 says you’re wrong.”

    Fellow soldier: “You are so (expletive deleted) on, man! It’ll be a pleasure taking your money!”

    Now the other soldier is wondering if he’s about to be out a couple Benjamins . . .