Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beauchamp: The Story Behind the 'Story'

Once again, over on the right hemiblogosphere, Scott Thomas Beauchamp's alleged fabrications in the New Republica are the Greatest Story Ever Told. The wingnuts are all high-fiving each other over documents Drudge posted yesterday: a (purported) transcript of a phone call between TNR editors and Beauchamp in which an obviously intimidated Beauchamp, in the presence of his commanding officer, refuses either to confirm or recant his story; and a memo detailing the results of the military 'investigation'.

The rest of us, not so much; the evidence is hardly dispositive (despite the way Drudge spun it--e.g., neglecting to mention the presence of Beauchamp's commanding officer), and in any case the whole thing is just monumentally trivial.

That's not to say that there may not be serious issues involved, though. In a comment at Balloon Juice yesterday, I raised this question:

...if someone in the Army selectively leaked confidential documents to right-wing sources to further a political agenda, isn’t that a much bigger scandal than whatever Beauchamp or TNR are accused of?
Today, Glenn Greenwald agrees:
[T]here is a secondary issue in this story that is being ignored -- how the U.S. military, like everything else, is becoming rapidly politicized, fully incorporated into and following the model of the Republican right-wing noise machine....

As the Beauchamp/TNR "story" demonstrates, the U.S. military is using the standard GOP/right-wing model for trying to shape the news in politically beneficial ways -- feeding supposedly secret and classified documents to Matt Drudge; using The Weekly Standard as its primary propaganda outlet...From the beginning, the U.S. military has refused to answer questions from the press, cut off The New Republic, cited classified and secrecy doctrines to suppress information, and all the while, worked secretly through selective leaks and back-channels with the most rabid right-wing partisans to shape the story in the most politicized way possible. Doesn't that merit at least some commentary?

....perhaps someone writing endlessly about the gossipy, catty parts of this story -- such as "media critic" Howard Kurtz -- might want to examine the fact that the behavior of our "apolitical military" in Iraq is becoming indistinguishable from every other arm of the Bush/Cheney right-wing noise machine. The overt politicization of our military in Iraq -- working closely and in secret only with Drudge, The Weekly Standard and right-wing blogs -- seems at least as important as the monumental issue of what Franklin Foer knew and when he knew it.
That's the story here, the story behind the 'story'. Every organizational unit run by the executive branch has become a part of the GOP machine--even the ones that it's most essential to keep from being politicized, such as the Department of Justice and the military.

The damage these people have inflicted will continue to haunt us for decades to come.

Update: The Army has now admitted that confidential documents were leaked to Drudge.