Clearing the Decks at The New Republic

The New Republic has famously had a bad streak of press the past decade or so, what with people making things up publishing them under the magazine’s name.

The latest imbroglio does, however, present TNR with an opportunity to clear the decks:

An Apology to Our Readers

After an investigation, THE NEW REPUBLIC has determined that virtually every position we have taken for a number of years, including — but not exclusive to — our support of President Bush’s war in Iraq; our accusations that people who advocated cooperating with US allies and other countries, as well as conforming to the Geneva Conventions and other treaties, were “isolationists”; our jingoistic labelling as “soft” of those who say terrorists — while dangerous — pose no threat to the existence of the United States as a country; and our endorsement of Joe Lieberman for the Democratic nomination to the presidency in 2004 were influenced by notes from someone calling himself “sprezzatura”. We deeply regret misleading our readers.

Franklin Foer
Editor, The New Republic

Don Rumsfeld: Now That’s Research!

As Keith Olbermann pointed out on “Countdown” Friday, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld repeated a number of items in his Tuesday American Legion speech and his Los Angeles Times editorial.

One of those items was a comparison between the number of times a search for the name of “one of the soldiers punished for misconduct at Abu Ghraib” came up compared to that of Medal of Honor recipient Paul Ray Smith. According to Rumsfeld, the name of the Abu Ghraib soldier was 10 times more prevalent than Smith’s in “the nation’s leading newspapers”. Smith was the first MoH recipient in the “global war on terror”.

Now, of course, the “misconduct” people were punished for at Abu Ghraib included torture and sexual humiliation of a number of prisoners. The solders punished for those deeds were in the news for more than a single incident because of an ongoing scandal, investigation, and trials. Smith, on the other hand, was dead, his Medal of Honor having been awarded posthumously (he died from wounds as a result of action on 4 April 2003). Death tends to put an end to news stories about the person, particularly after more than three years and another 2,500 American fatalities in Iraq.

Rumsfeld didn’t name the Abu Ghraib soldier, but let’s say for the sake of argument that it was the one you’re most likely to have heard of: Lynndie England. She was far from the only person involved, but as a woman involved in “misconduct” of a sexual nature, she bore the brunt of the publicity.

No specifics were given of the newspapers involved, either, but let’s just try a little Google search to see what the world at large has.

That’s not exactly 10:1, but it’s fairly close. Which kind of makes me wonder whether I’ve now done more research for this brief note than the Department of Defense did for Rumsfeld’s lame talking point.

Crossposted for comments at DailyKos