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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007
The Power of the Network

As the whole Scott "Shock Troops" Beauchamp story lurches on, an understated part of the story is the power of competing networks.

You know the saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." That just doesn't go for finding your next job or deal, it also goes for fact checking as well. Nobody can know it all, but you can know somebody who knows something about what you need to know.

Michael Goldfarb who has been on this story from the beginning like stink on a monkey has proven the power of the blogopshere in this matter. He posted his concerns, asked for advice, and heard from a wide-range of experts including former Bradley IFV drivers and soldiers who served not just in Iraq but also at the base in question. As he cast serious doubt on the story, other bloggers picked up the torch even to the point of narrowing the possible identity of the then anonymous Beauchamp to about 100 people in a particular combat unit.

What did The New Republic, that venerable print-publication, do to check their story before running it?

"We sent [the article] to a reporter who was embedded in Iraq . . . to see if it all smelled right."

"We pressed this guy for corroborating evidence, and we were satisfied that he provided enough details that everything felt compelling."

"We had a fact-checker talk to a medic who had served in Iraq to make sure that it all smelled right" (referring to the description of the disfigured woman in the mess hall).

You would think a publication like The New Republic would, when challenged on a story, would bring a whole load of wood when challenged.

New Republic vs. Blogopshere... a disparity in forces.

I wonder when they write the epitaph of of Franklin Foer's editorial career at the TNR if it will be "it all smelled right."