When your aim in journalism is to shock, you run the risk of going too far, becoming tempted to make things up to fit your narrative theme, like a latter-day Chuck Tatum massaging the details of the "grieving widow" device in Billy Wilder’s cult classic "Ace In The Hole." Cynicism and ambition run amuck. So it seems to be with Scott Thomas, the pseudonym of an alleged private whose "Baghdad Diarist," for the credulous liberals of The New Republic, is attracting the attention of a growing number of milbloggers–like Matt Sanchez–who are hot on his trail.
"His latest entries are making the rounds and, have raised a lot of doubts," Sanchez writes. "Those who have served in Baghdad are questioning how true these stories are…I don’t want to know who this guy is, I just want to fact check his stories."
Shockers like a baby’s skull some Neanderthal supposedly digs up and uses for a crown under his Kevlar helmet; the bored Bradley driver who goes out of his way to run over a dog; and the insensitive jerks who mock a disfigured woman in a Camp Falcon mess hall, where Sanchez, too, just happens to dine. So far the Bradley tale is getting the most workout, here in The Weekly Standard, where Bradley veterans explain how they know it’s fiction. Tatum (Kirk Douglas in the 1951 film) would do anything for fame. Thomas seems to be following his lead, and the military-hating libs are, naturally enough, sucking it up. As for TNR, well, like the minor league newspaper editor in "Ace In The Hole," they’re not looking too close at their good thing.
UPDATE The flak (information officer) at FOB Falcon weighs in, shooting down the baby skull item, and questioning the ones about the disfigured woman and the Bradley.
MORE Then the magazine’s editor says it is investigating the accuracy of the articles.
STILL MORE The chickens are coming home to roost as the 1st SGT in the Diarist’s unit says he "has other underlying issues" and his writings are "fairy tales." No surprise there. And, finally, Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette sums it all up.