Soldiers at war rarely write magazine stories. But on July 13, 2007, a 24-year-old army private named Scott Thomas Beauchamp who had been serving in Iraq for about 10 months published a short, pseudonymous essay in the New Republic magazine that created a media firestorm.
After a series of increasingly panicked communications from his editors, Beauchamp published a brief statement using his real name on TNR's website to defend his article's accuracy. The statement only intensified the attacks, however, and a few days later Goldfarb filed a blog post that seemed to checkmate his opponents. Citing an unnamed source "close to the investigation," he reported that Beauchamp had signed "a sworn statement" for the army conceding that the events in "Shock Troops" were "exaggerations and falsehoods." The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press all eagerly jumped on the story.
The only problem was that Goldfarb's contention was false. Major John Cross, who investigated the "Shock Troops" scandal for the army, confirms, "[Specialist] Beauchamp--he's been promoted since this story broke--never recanted his articles in any sworn statement." But the Weekly Standard, despite casting endless aspersions on TNR's journalistic ethics, has never bothered to retract its story, and the falsehood became a propaganda victory. Despite enormous efforts on the part of Beauchamp and his wife, Elspeth Reeve, who was then a TNR intern, to vindicate him, the public pressure on TNR continued to build.