Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Texas Press Drops Ball on CBS Memogate
Texas Media Watch ^ | September 20, 2004 | Sherry Sylvester

Posted on 09/20/2004 3:52:29 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch

Dan Rather and CBS News’ decision to build a story on documents that are almost certainly fake may signal a new low in sloppy and suspiciously partisan reporting.

But the big five newspapers in Texas – the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, the Austin American-Statesman and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – have violated a larger rule of journalism with the document scandal. They didn’t go after the story.

Rather admitted he was duped in his report on President George Bush's service in the National Guard, but the Texas press has no excuse for failing to pick up the ball. Virtually every player in the fascinating drama of the forged documents is a Texan, including Bill Burkett, the former Texas National Guard officer and Bush hater who seems to have spawned the CBS story. Many Texas political journalists know Burkett is an unreliable source.

All the old National Guard officers who have been quoted in news reports are Texans, of course, along with dozens of other former Texas guardsmen who might have helped solve the puzzle raised by the CBS story if reporters had contacted them.

Any cub reporter would have known to make the first call to Earl Lively, former Director of Texas National Guard Operations, but it was the London Guardian, not a Texas paper, that rang up the old officer. Lively ultimately provided the quote that could end up as the book title for the memo scandal – “forged as hell."

The elderly National Guard typist, Marian Carr Knox, made national news when she told reporters that the documents were phony. Knox, who lives in Houston, told the Washington Post and Matt Drudge that she had called the Houston Chronicle to tell her story, but they didn’t call her back.

The first interview with the folks at Kinkos in Abilene, where the fake documents were originally sent to CBS, wasn’t done by the Dallas Morning News or the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The kids behind the copy-counter talked to the Washington Post.

ABC News was the media outlet that got retired National Guard Col. Walter Staudt to finally agree to an interview, even though the San Antonio Express-News and the Austin American-Statesman are both located less than fifty miles from his New Braunfels home.

The Texas press did do a little original reporting on the forged documents story. The Dallas Morning News plowed through their old Bush files and reported on September 10 that Staudt, who is named as a Bush critic in one of the CBS memos, actually retired from the National Guard a year and a half before the memos were supposedly written.

The Morning News was also among the first to report that National Guard general Bobby Hodges had pronounced that the memos appeared to be forgeries. CBS had cited Hodges to confirm their report.

The big Dallas paper went looking for typist Marian Carr Knox and smartly put their report online shortly after she told reporters there that the documents were fake. Laudably, Dallas Morning News writer Pete Slover reported high-up in his story that Knox also expressed great contempt for President Bush. Rather neglected to include that detail when he interviewed Knox on television.

The Houston Chronicle also published an important piece on Burkett, who has been a bitter and frequent critic of Bush over the years. The Chronicle noted that many of Burkett’s charges failed to check-out. Demonstrating how far off a national news report can drift, on September 17 the Washington Post published a piece on Burkett entitled “Suspected CBS Source is Well-Regarded Texan." The much better researched story about Burkett ran in the Houston Chronicle the same day. It was headlined “Texan has history of attacks on Bush."

More of this kind of reporting from journalists who knew the players and their backgrounds would have saved the national media a lot of time and surely resulted in some glory for the Texas press.

But the Lone Star State papers’ coverage of this decidedly Texas story was extremely spotty.

On September 12, when the story of document fraud was raging, Austin American-Statesman reporter Ken Herman filed a report that ignored the furor and repeated some gossipy allegations from a web magazine.

In San Antonio, Express News reporter Gardner Selby filed a September 10 story attributed entirely to an unnamed source who charged that the former President Bush had lied when he said he’d not asked for help in getting the current president into the National Guard.

Neither story was corroborated or followed-up.

The big Texas papers did not seek out former Texas National Guardsmen who could have responded to questions about flight training, transfers, policies for physicals and other issues the CBS report raised. The Texas press even passed on a chance to correct Rush Limbaugh.

Picking a note off the White House Bulletin on September 17, Limbaugh characterized Burkett’s lawyer, David Van Os, as a big player in the Texas Democratic Party, linking him to the Travis County Democratic Party fundraiser that Dan Rather notoriously attended in 2001.

Texas reporters know that Van Os, a State Supreme Court candidate, has not lived in Travis County since 1999 and can be more accurately described as a fringe Democrat than a big-time mainstreamer. In 2002 he made a kamikaze run against the Chair of the State Democratic Party and that same year filed a lawsuit against his local county chairman.

Just before CBS admitted they had been duped, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times reconstructed a chronicle of events inside the network that led up to the phony document report. But no Texas paper took on the job of reporting the story from the home court – fleshing out the movements of the Texas players in the media scandal drama – from the retired military and the big-time partisans to the bit players with old grudges.

The fact that the big Texas papers stepped back and let the big dogs take over surely bodes more ill for good journalism than Rather’s lapse. There’s no greater threat to a healthy and free press than editors and reporters who ignore a good story.

Sherry Sylvester is the Director of Texas Media Watch, a non-partisan project that monitors the state’s metropolitan daily papers.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: blather; rathergate; stainedbluememo
The "Big 5" are all liberal rags!
1 posted on 09/20/2004 3:52:29 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

What's happening to Texas?? I expect that kind of thing here, but I've always had higher expectations from the big T.


2 posted on 09/20/2004 3:56:03 PM PDT by Awestruck (The artist formerly known as Goodie D)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
There's a reason it's called the Houston Comical
3 posted on 09/20/2004 4:00:33 PM PDT by TexasCajun
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
Scooped in their own back yard by the London Guardian, thousands of miles away(and no on-scene reporter).
First rule of Journalism: Don't overlook the obvious.
4 posted on 09/20/2004 4:05:17 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Awestruck

It's sad but simple...media in Texas is as liberal and lazy as anywhere else.


5 posted on 09/20/2004 4:10:40 PM PDT by WestTexasWend
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch


The Big Five Fish Wraps are all Dem boosters all the time. No Texan in his right mind believes...or buys...these leftist propaganda sheets. Someone could make a TON of money by publishing a conservative Texas statewide paper that would run these sorry outfits out of business.


6 posted on 09/20/2004 4:18:21 PM PDT by StrictTime ("Pajama Riot! I wanna riot! Pajama Riot! A riot of my own!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
Hopefully the Texas State Attorney General's Office will be a little more enthusiastic about the many answers remaining to the many questions left outstanding.
7 posted on 09/20/2004 4:19:47 PM PDT by Steven W.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

They're probably like Texas banks. Not owned by Texans.


8 posted on 09/20/2004 4:21:53 PM PDT by mercy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

The Houston Chronicle is a joke of a newspaper. They are losing subscribers by the boatload. They revamped the whole style of the newspaper because they thought they needed a facelift. The style is a lot worse and the liberal bias is the same.

Big Old Media is dying.


9 posted on 09/20/2004 4:22:07 PM PDT by truthandlife (http://www.neverforgetneveragain.com -- If you want Bush re-elected pass on this video link!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

After Nov. 2, 2004, the Republican takeover of Texas politics will be complete, as the Congressional delegation will convert from a Dem majority to a Republican majority.

Unfortunately, a similar Republican takeover is unimaginable in the Texas press.

We Texans will just have to depend on the New Media and the California-based Free Republic to give us the news that matters.


10 posted on 09/20/2004 4:24:49 PM PDT by Vision Thing
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TexasCajun
There's a reason it's called the Houston Comical

That's the only thing it's good for. I find they have a Comics section on the Internet from which you can create your own comic page and download the comics everyday.

11 posted on 09/20/2004 4:25:15 PM PDT by DeFault User
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

Excellent factual report.
Now for the editorial that examines WHY the Texas newspapers dropped the ball on this big play.


12 posted on 09/20/2004 4:25:36 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mercy

The Dallas Morning News is owned by Belo Corp., a Dallas-based company.


13 posted on 09/20/2004 4:26:55 PM PDT by Vision Thing
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

Oops, Sherry Sylvester did fail to mention that David Van Os is a current candidate for office in Texas. I can't remember which one (judge?) but I've seen campaign signs with his name.


14 posted on 09/20/2004 4:27:15 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks

I even tried to help out by sending the Austin Statesman an email early last week to look into the connections with Robin Rather and Ben Barnes and Dan Rather.

Guess they thought it was a non-story, or one they didn't want to cover.


15 posted on 09/20/2004 4:28:35 PM PDT by Misplaced Texan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: ValerieUSA

Van Os is running for the Texas Supreme Court.

http://www.vanosforsupremecourt.com/


16 posted on 09/20/2004 4:34:16 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (A 4 month swift boat commander or a 4 year Commander in Chief? You Decide.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: StrictTime

If you decide to, I'll invest...


17 posted on 09/20/2004 4:36:22 PM PDT by no more apples (God Bless our troops)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
There is nothing to see here, move on, no news here, the subject is moot, nothing interesting,

Sincerely, your Houston Chronicle

18 posted on 09/20/2004 4:36:54 PM PDT by Navy Patriot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

I read Fr for news and have gotten many other to stop buying the Dallas Morning news.

Its not fit for fishwrap


19 posted on 09/20/2004 4:39:44 PM PDT by mylife (The roar of the masses could be farts)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Awestruck
What's happening to Texas?? I expect that kind of thing here, but I've always had higher expectations from the big T.

The "press" here has become more and more liberal over the years. Just like it has everywhere else.
Sad but true.

20 posted on 09/20/2004 4:41:34 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
The "Big 5" are all liberal rags!

And thats news? I dumped the DMN many years ago for Yahoo!
21 posted on 09/20/2004 4:46:20 PM PDT by e_castillo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

Apparently this particular county is overwhemingly Dum-o-crat!


22 posted on 09/20/2004 4:54:35 PM PDT by Allosaurs_r_us (CBS is sending a trial balloon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Allosaurs_r_us

What county?


23 posted on 09/20/2004 4:57:42 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (A 4 month swift boat commander or a 4 year Commander in Chief? You Decide.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Awestruck

Texas newspapers would prefer we remain mushrooms. That's why you have so many Texans getting their news from Free Republic.


24 posted on 09/20/2004 4:58:07 PM PDT by daybreakcoming
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: TexasCajun

What kind of commentary has been advanced by Miss Molly Irvins (sp) or Ann (Wrinkle-Face) Richards?


25 posted on 09/20/2004 4:58:20 PM PDT by pointsal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
They didn't pursue it because they were afraid (or they knew) where it would lead.

Nobody wants to be the one who exposes the DNC and sets off the next Watergate. Now, if it had been a Republican, that would be a different matter entirely.

-PJ

26 posted on 09/20/2004 5:01:36 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too (It's still not safe to vote Democrat.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: pointsal

IVINS' LATEST COLUMNS

'Know thine enemy' is just plain smart

History does not excuse terrorism, but it is relevant.
( By Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate, 09/19/2004 04:01 AM CDT)

OTHER COLUMNS





So it couldn't get worse?

Yes, President Bush is entitled to ask John Kerry, "So what would you do about the disaster I've created?" Unfortunately, the viable opportunities have vanished.
( By Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate, 09/16/2004 04:01 AM CDT)

Look at who's on the payroll

Some believe that who is elected as president is less important than the people that president hires to actually make the decisions of government.
( By Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate, 09/12/2004 04:01 AM CDT)


Liars, liars, pants on ... oh, you know the rest

Of the many lies told at last week's GOP convention, those regarding John Kerry's statements were the most abundant.
( By Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate, 09/09/2004 04:01 AM CDT)


Oh, what a relief it is over

The real theme of the New York gathering was "George W. Bush Makes Us Safer." Ahem.
( By Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate, 09/05/2004 04:01 AM CDT)


27 posted on 09/20/2004 5:04:32 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (A 4 month swift boat commander or a 4 year Commander in Chief? You Decide.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
Texas Press Drops Ball on CBS Memogate

And which non-partisan Texas paper should have done the investigation? The Dallas Morning News, The Austin-American Statesman, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News? All of those major Texas papers have the same agenda that Blather and SeeBS have?
28 posted on 09/20/2004 5:45:34 PM PDT by DustyMoment (Repeal CFR NOW!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch

bttt


29 posted on 09/20/2004 5:54:15 PM PDT by nopardons (The pajamsless warrior)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
The article left out the Wichita Falls Tums and Rolaids' Swill (Times and Record News) which is a North Texas liberal rag with an editorial board that is to the left of Lenin. This newspaper's writers wear out a new set of kneepads almost weekly. One female considers Al Franken a sex symbol and a breath of fresh truthful air.
30 posted on 09/20/2004 6:00:59 PM PDT by vetvetdoug (In memory of T/Sgt. Secundino "Dean" Baldonado, Jarales, NM-KIA Bien Hoa AFB, RVN 1965)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SwinneySwitch
Thank for the great story. I have been shocked by the complete lack of effort on the part of the media and especially the local guys to just ask TANG members who knew Bush what they think.

As this story assumes, yes there are number of such folks still in Texas and they will tell you plenty about how the CBS memos could not have been real, that Bush got into the guard because there was a shortage of pilots at the time not because of favoritism, that he performed well and was well liked there, and was let go early because by '72 there was a surplus of pilots.

Sorry, I'm not going to name my friends because they don't want to get hassled by the press. It should be trivial for any half-baked reporter to find some of these folks though and once you get them to talking, you will quickly find out that not a single piece of the CBS story has any credibility. I just can not understand the incredible lack of initiative in the press over this.

31 posted on 09/20/2004 6:17:27 PM PDT by lame_internet_name
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Misplaced Texan

When the so-called big 5 Texas papers are scooped in their own back yard by a London newspaper, they should lower the flags in front of each publishing house to half staff.


32 posted on 09/21/2004 6:22:11 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson