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NRO discovers beam in its own eye

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The National Review Online has in the past been almost hysterical over misleading stories—well, stories they claimed were misleading, in some cases—published in other venues. But now they have an uncomfortable time with their own transgression:

In retrospect, National Review might have been better off not going after the Jayson Blair and Scott Thomas Beauchamp stories with so much enthusiasm. As Tom Edsall reports, the conservative political magazine has been publishing stories about events in the Middle East that were apparently fabricated.

There is a growing dispute over the veracity of reporting from Lebanon by former Marine W. Thomas Smith, Jr. who is posting reports on his blog, The Tank, published by the conservative website, National Review Online (NRO). Smith is a supporter of the war in Iraq, and is affiliated with two politically conservative organizations, the Counterterrorism Research Center and the Family Security Foundation. He is the executive editor of World Defense Review, and the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Intelligent Design.

At question are two reports filed by Smith on The Tank — reports which appear to be designed to bolster support for the ongoing presence of U.S troops in the Mideast.

Edsall focuses specifically on a series of reports about Hezbollah activities that not only fail to withstand scrutiny, but may even “endanger the press corps in the troubled region.” He also spoke directly with four professional journalists in the area, all of whom condemned Smith for publishing a variety of false reports. One called Smith’s reports “pure fabrications,” while another was more blunt, calling the work “insane.”

Confronted with reality, Smith, who repeatedly blasted TNR and Beauchamp’s dubious reports, tried to backpedal, saying he should been “more specific,” and conceding that he lowered his stands for accuracy because he was writing for “a blog.” Smith concluded, “In the future, I’ll provide more context.”

It’s not exactly a persuasive defense. Reporting on fictional events as if they occurred in reality goes beyond simple questions of “context.”

Glenn Greenwald has a gem on all of this, noting, among other things, that “National Review did not merely help to fuel the Beauchamp outrage against TNR; they were one of the leading instigators of the months-long lynch mob.”

Thanks for the pointer, Ray.

Written by Leisureguy

2 December 2007 at 10:33 am

Posted in GOP, Media

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