Scott Thomas and The New Republic
The liberal opinion journal has recently published three articles by Scott Thomas. That's the pseudonym for a soldier currently serving in Iraq. The most recent of Thomas' articles is titled 'Shock Troops'.
Let me note first, I've subscribed to TNR since 1980, with a few lapses here and there. My current subscription goes back to the late 90's at least. So I actually am one of The New Republic's 40-65,000 subscribers. I usually find myself in disagreement with the magazine, but TFM has always enjoyed people with a different point of view than his own.(I also subscribe to The National Review, the conservative Opinion Journal)
Michael Goldfard at The Weekly Standard began to call into question some of Scott Thomas writing. Goldfard also made a general call for milbloggers to prove or disprove what has been published by this soldier.
Mr. Grayhawk at Mudville Gazette writes-
What needs to be said about Scott Thomas?What Mr. Grayhawk says doesn't prove for sure that Thomas is either not a soldier or full of shit, but it raises serious questions. Others, including commenters at ACE, have raised similar doubts about what Thomas wrote, including the story of a dog that was killed by a private driving a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
How far into The New Republic's fabricated war story did I have to get to recognize it was a fabricated story? Answer: Not very far. Here's the first line:I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq.
Here's a true war story. One late night near Baghdad, my unit's First Sergeant and I went to the local USAF passenger terminal to pick up a newly arrived troop. Because food is important to survival and morale, the first place we took our newbie was the DFAC - the Dining Facility. (Pronounced DEEFAK with emphasis on the first syllable.) AS I said, it was late, so as we pulled into the parking area Top asked a passing soldier "Hey, what time does the chow hall close?". His response was a blank stare, and a "huh?". He moved closer to the vehicle.
"What time does the Chow Hall close?" The First Sergeant repeated. The soldier began to appear confused, and was unable to respond. Something clicked in my head. "He doesn't know what a chow hall is" I said. The term is outdated, appearing now only in old war movies on TV, but Top and I are old school. "What time does the DFAC close?" Asked the First Sergeant.
"Twenty hundred hours" he replied smartly. He wasn't being a smart ass, he was completely unfamiliar with the term "chow hall". (By the way, it was closed, so we ate at Pizza Hut that night. I paid. War is hell.)
Anyhow, this hardly proves "Scott Thomas" is a liar, but it does trigger the Bullshit antennae. Not until the second sentence does his story completely and totally fall apart:She wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn't really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor.
And that pretty much finishes that. Hint: military people wear military uniforms - the service uniform or the Physical Training uniform, AKA PT gear. and ALWAYS HAVE THEIR WEAPONS. Contractors wear civilian clothes and are rarely armed. (This has something to do with something called the Geneva Conventions, and also common sense.) Anyhow, this makes readily apparent who is military and who is not. In fact, it is the very reason MILITARY PEOPLE IN IRAQ ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO WEAR THEIR UNIFORMS AND NOTHING BUT THEIR UNIFORMS. Again, this doesn't prove Scott Thomas is a liar, only that if he is who New Republic claims he is, his ignorance exceeds that of any soldier of any rank I've ever met.
Ace and others have rehashed TNR's sordid past, namely the Stephen Glass affair. I subscribed to the magazine through much of Glass' tenure at the magazine. Out of all those commenting about TNR on milblogs right now, I doubt all that many have ever read the publication. Some could say what's the fuss? TNR has a limited circulation and probably limited influence also. After all, the Glass affair was so horrible, who would believe anything TNR writes? Actually that is the line of reasoning some people are taking. What's the fuss then?
Glass was a journalistic horror story and it severely damaged the magazine's credibility. It doesn't however prove TNR to necessarily be wrong today. I do think however there is a strong probability that TNR has been hoodwinked in part or in full by someone living or serving in Iraq. Partly because I called the magazine today. I talked to someone by the name of Brad(There's a Brad Plumer listed as a Reporter-Researcher on the magazine's masthead.) said while they haven't posted a retraction, he couldn't or wouldn't say if TNR is standing by what they've published. That sounds wishy washy to me, either say yes or no if the magazine's editors stands by the truth of something they published. Are TNR's editors having doubts now?
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the days ahead.
Linked to- Big Dog, Cao, Stuck on Stupid, Third World County,