Skip to comments.FAKE NEWS: TWO CASE STUDIES, History of Rathergate
Posted on 10/21/2018 9:57:27 AM PDT by Thebaddog
I was asked by our local chapter of the Cardozo Society an affinity group of Jewish lawyers of which I am a member to speak over lunch as a counterpart to ABA Foundation Fellow and historian Victoria Saker Woeste on the subject of fake news at the societys October 8 continuing legal education program. Ms. Woeste was the featured speaker. Her theme was that the term fake news is anti-Semitic in origin and that President Trumps use of it, knowingly or not, is wrongful. Her talk expanded on her Washington Post column (accessible via Outline here) making this argument.
Following her presentation I noted that the theme of fake news had originally been introduced after the election by Democrats who used it to describe stories representing Russian interference in the election. The term was used as a gibe against Trump, I noted, and he had simply appropriated it and made it his own. I reviewed two case studies in fake news that are familiar to Power Line readers, Rathergate and the smearing of Cleta Mitchell. I passed out materials accompanying my talk that documented the smearing of Cleta Mitchell, the calling out of the smear by the Wall Street Journal and Cletas email correspondence with the perpetrators at McClatchy News (embedded at the bottom). Though there is nothing new here, I thought some readers might find my remarks of interest as the song remains the same:
As a Trump supporter fighting in the trenches every day against what the president calls fake news, I think we are suffocating in it. I couldnt disagree more with the thesis that what we have here is a veiled exercise in anti-Semitism. I come at the issue from a different angle.
For purposes of historical context, I would propose that the problem of fake news goes back to the birth of the press in the United States. See, for example, Eric Burnss brilliant popular history of the press in the founding era, Infamous Scribblers.
In the nineteenth century newspapers were frankly partisan. Newspapers gave one-sided versions of the news. The progressive era superimposed the idea of professionalism and impartiality over the reporting function of the newspaper, but I think what we have seen for a long time now is something like a reversion to the norm in the press. We have a partisan press in all but name with a pretense to fairness or objectivity. The pretense to fairness compounds the problem of fake news and accounts for the antipathy a lot of us feel toward it. It has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
Trump isnt Hitler. The whole Trump is Hitler thing is a tired trope recycled by the left from the days of Ronald Reagan and then George W. Bush. They werent Hitler either.
Drawing on my own experience I want briefly to present two case studies in fake news and fabricated documents.
Case Study 1: Rathergate
My first case study is the episode known as Rathergate. It represents one of the great journalistic frauds of our time. It is a case study in the fabrication of fake news and partisan bias. The Rathergate scandal erupted from a 60 Minutes Wednesday segment rushed to air on the evening of September 8, 2004, in time to influence the approaching presidential election pitting George W. Bush against John Kerry, as it was clearly intended to do. The segment consisted of two parts that didnt quite fit together except in their antipathy to Bush.
In the first part, based on an interview with the vice chairman of Kerrys national finance committee, Rather essentially claimed that political influence had been brought to bear to secure Bushs admission to the Texas Air National Guard as an interceptor jet pilot in 1968. In the second part, based on documents supposedly from the personal file of Bushs commanding officer, Rather reported that Bush had defied an order to take a physical necessary to maintain his flight status and, among other things, thus failed to discharge his military obligations. The segment was produced and written by Mary Mapes.
In researching the story, Mapes had interviewed witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the Texas Air National Guards personnel needs. She was told that they needed pilots at the time and that no influence would have been necessary to secure Bushs admission. The documents on which Rather based the second segment proved to be fabricated on Microsoft Word in the computer era, not typewritten in the early 1970s by Bushs commanding officer or anyone else. The content and format of the documents also betrayed their fabrication. The story began to fall apart within a few hours of its broadcast. On September 20, 12 days after the broadcast, Rather extended an apology personally and directly to viewers for his inability to authenticate the documents.
Continues at the site.
The initial investigation and expose originated online at FreeRepublic by a fellow with the handle Backhoe. He found the fraudulent basis of the document and proved it. I respectfully submit that the people took down Rather and a new era dawned. The power of the nets has steadily been eroding since then.
It was Buckhead, wasn't it?
Your memory is correct - Buckhead.
For your references on press prejudice.
Interesting that the Jewish Lawyers group specifically was told “fake news” is anti-Semitic. To their face by the center of the Fake News cabal of Washington Post - NY Times.
That was a thread I read that day . I thought Buckhead was quite clever for discoving this fraud at the time
We had a Backhoe but you are correct, it was Buckhead and Tanker KC that were instrumental in exposing the fraud.
So she is saying that the Jews control the media? The Neo-Nazis were right after all?
All three great FReepers, each in their own right.
I believe we were posting within minutes of Rather’s document release that it was a proportionally spaced font that didn’t exist when the document was supposedly typed.
It was immediately spotted.
I watched Rathergate unfold in real time here on FreeRepublic. TankerKC called it first and Buckhead nailed the coffin shut. What an eclectic gathering of minds! It was awesome, it was breathtaking.
Here’s a thread from that night. Buckhead comment at #47.
Here’s Howlin’s archive of the FR threads that night.
I’m pretty sure it was Backhoe.
Just ask Jim Thompson.
George W Bush was a qualified fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. These fighter pilots all think they are the best damn fighter pilot in the world. They all want to fight.
Bush was not avoiding combat. He volunteered for Vietnam but was not called to go.
Dan Rather is pond scum and Mary Mapes is less than pond scum.
LOL! Scott Johnson seems to get his Freepers mixed up.
Bloggers Run Rings Around The Partisan, Lazy Old Media (see post 36)
The aircraft he piloted was a continental defense interceptor, not suited for Viet Nam type combat missions.
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