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Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, and the Huffington Post have been following the case of W. Thomas Smith Jr. and the idiotic stories out of Lebanon he’s written for National Review Online. As has been noted, at least two American reporters who work in Lebanon notified National Review long ago about the fact that some of Smith’s work was fiction, yet no action was taken.
One of the reporters who contacted National Review was Chris Allbritton, who is currently in Australia. I reached him there by email and he told me that he contacted National Review on October 6 regarding Thomas Smith Jr. Lacking a direct email for either Smith or NRO Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez, he sent his blistering note to email@example.com, the general address for NRO’s military blog, where Smith was posting his stories. Allbritton told me that unless he somehow missed it, he never received a reply, and certainly, National Review continued to publish Smith’s tripe.
Here is Allbritton’s October 6 email:
Your posts by W. Thomas Smith Jr. are hilarious! Great fiction reading.
Such as this one:
The general briefed me regarding the battlefield at Nahr al-Bared, near his camp, and what I would see today as the first American journalist to visit the site of Lebanon’s defeat of Al Qaeda-affiliate Fatah al Islam.
You do know that almost every American journalist living in Beirut has been up to Nahr el-Bared several times during and after the fighting? I myself filed stories for the Washington Times and the Newark Star-Ledger, the day after the fighting stopped–and I was in a hell of a lot more danger than your man is in today…
You know, for a publication that went after the New Republic so hard for its soldier-in-Iraq stuff, your guy here is horribly, horribly inaccurate and sensationalist. I’m an American and I never have bodyguards and never needed one. He is making Beirut seem much more dangerous than it is. He also is–as are you, since I assume he’s expensing it–getting fleeced by some Lebanese con artists. He doesn’t need weapons and he’s making a big problem by carrying them and publicly writing about his “recon missions” in the Dahiyah. That’s not what journalists do; it’s what spies do, and by his actions, he’s making everyone suspicious of western journalists. That is the height of irresponsibility.
Secondly, he’s a liar. Hezbollah never invaded east Beirut on the 29th. And they don’t have 200 “heavily armed” militiamen downtown. I passed by today. There are about 40 guys down there with no weapons at all. They sit around smoking shisha in jeans and t-shirts.
Perhaps your man in Beirut should not rely solely on March 14 guys and get a wider perspective. And stop lying and making careless errors. It’s your credibility on the line, after all.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”