As the criticism mounted TNR editor Franklin Foer defended the reliability of the author, then only known to the public as "Scott Thomas," and pledged to verify the accounts.
Staffers at TNR have vacations coming up, so it appears that the verification of fact will not occur imminently.
Aside from the issue of veracity, TNR has made itself vulnerable to criticism regarding its choice of Beauchamp as its war correspondent. With the idea of assisting that debate, I offer the following time line (OK, it's not a "line" as such but it sets forth a rough chronology).
- Scott Beauchamp and Elspeth Reeve associated at the Missouri School of Journalism (~2005)
- Beauchamp in Europe by June of 2006--probably already in the armed services
- Beauchamp develops relationship with girl in Germany
- Beauchamp deployed to Kuwait by September 2006, engaged to girl in Germany
- "War Bonds" published in TNR 1/29/07
- Beauchamp serves in Iraq from Sept. 2006 through April 2007, at which time he receives 2 weeks R&R.
- Marries Elspeth Reeve rather than the aforementioned fiancee, returns to duty somewhat after he was supposed to arrive.
- "Dead of Night" published 6/7/07
- "Shock Troops" published 7/13/07
- Criticism of "Shock Troops" begins and builds
- Beauchamp publicly identifies himself through TNR
- Army takes away his laptop and telephone
- Foer confirms for Howard Kurtz that Beauchamp is married to a TNR staffer (7/27/07)
One detail should stand out, however. A number of commentators have suggested that Beauchamp was chosen because of his marriage to Reeve, or at least on the basis of his romantic relationship to Reeve. Most likely, Beauchamp knew that Reeve was employed at TNR. A number of the students in the Missouri School of Journalism appear to have maintained ties. It doesn't really matter whether Beauchamp contacted TNR because of Reeve or vice-versa. It appears that the initial contact was probably prompted by platonic familiarity rather than because of a romantic relationship.
On the other hand, the romantic relationship seems to have rapidly flowered with the onset of the professional association in spite of the problem of distance. Perhaps one day somebody will tell that story.
Within six months of deployment, Beauchamp is published as "Scott Thomas," and a scant four months later, by all appearances, he had wed Ms. Reeve (about 8 months after Beauchamp announced his intent to marry the girl in Germany).
Does this have any relevance to TNRs professional relationship with Beauchamp? That's hard to say, at this point. It seems that Beauchamp and Reeve must have communicated with one another extensively, or else it seems difficult to explain how Beauchamp could dump the girl in Germany for Reeve.
Could Reeve have coached Beauchamp regarding his stories, helping them conform to the TNR template in terms of style if not in terms of tone and theme? That question turns rapidly interesting if Beauchamp's account is factually undermined. For my part, I don't think the public (including me) has enough information yet to render sound judgment.