Skip to comments.The First Big Network Smear
Posted on 09/21/2004 4:46:33 AM PDT by tdadams
The first big network smear
September 11th, 2004
CBS aired it. Dan Rather was the reporter. The program attempted to damage the reputation of a commander-in-chief.
Are we talking about Wednesdays 60 Minutes? No, were talking about a CBS Reports program The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception, which ran January 23, 1982.
Now you might think that the subtitle refers to John Kerry. Actually, the program sought to prove that General William C. Westmoreland, then Commander-in-Chief of U.S. forces in Vietnam, deliberately misled President Johnson, the Pentagon and Americans as to the actual strength of the VC/NVA just prior to the 1968 Tet Offensive, thereby giving the false impression that we were winning the war. It was the first big smear of a public figure attempted by CBS.
Produced by George Crile and narrated by Mike Wallace, the program was based on allegations by former CIA analyst and well-known left-winger, Sam Adams, whose claims had already been investigated, and dismissed by, the House Select Committee on Intelligence in 1975.
Even knowing their source had been discredited, CBS went ahead with the production anyway. It featured paid, coached and rehearsed witnesses and Dan Rather deliberately provoking General Westmoreland to make him angry; to make him appear guilty under his questioning.
In the aftermath of its controversial airing, TV GUIDE ran a major article titled Anatomy of A Smear: How CBS Broke The Rules and Got Westmoreland. Professor Leonard Magruder, then teaching at Suffolk College wrote a detailed analysis of what he knew to be a pack of lies. He and his students saw to it that CBS executives and reporters, as well as those of other networks, plus major newspapers, received copies. (Renata Adler would later write her book on it titled Reckless Disregard)
General Westmoreland received a copy of Professor Magruders work and sent it to his lawyers, who were working on a $120 million libel suit against CBS. The general received tremendous support from Americans across the country and from fellow Vietnam vets, who organized The Veterans for Westmoreland Committee which raised many thousands of dollars for his defense fund. For his part, Westmoreland stated that any money he received from a settlement would go to charities helping veterans and their families.
The general had made a public statement on December 27, 1983 in which he listed some of the exhibits in his lawsuit. They included:
-Dan Rather promising to investigate criticisms of the program, which he never did.
-Failure by CBS to make public the findings of its internal investigation (the Benjamin Report) which concluded that the program was biased and its allegations unproved.
-Affadavits from numerous military officers and CIA officials attesting that the programs allegations were false.
-A memo from George Crile to Mike Wallace instructing him as to interview technique, with Crile saying: Now all you have to do is break General Westmoreland.
-A George Crile memo to Mike Wallace urging CBS to forget process telling Wallace to ask Rather to intercede on his and Wallaces behalf with current and former Evening News and CBS Reports executive producers. (read: help! Save my rear end)
In the end, much to the frustration of many vets and supportive Americans, General Westmoreland settled for an apology from CBS. He was a magnanimous gentlemen about the whole thing, saying that I do not believe it is fair to judge the media by the isolated actions of some of its irresponsible members.
But the damage had been done. CBS sustained a severe PR black eye and its credibility was damaged severely. It was a bad day at Black Rock (the nickname of CBSs Sixth Avenue skyscraper headquarters). Its first major attempt at smearing a commander-in-chief failed miserably.
And as we now know, blinded by arrogance, they refused to heed the obvious lesson, and now face permanent, possibly fatal injury.
The author would like to acknowledge the work of Professor Leonard Magruder, some of which was used as source material for this article. Professor Magruder is the founder and president of Vietnam Veterans For Academic Reform, fighting against college and university speech codes, multiculturalism, PC and other manifestations of leftwing rot on campus.
John B. Dwyer is a military historian
John B. Dwyer
Not mentioned in this article is that CBS's insurance carrier dropped it's libel coverage after this incident.
cbs has displayed extreme bias for decades. it is amazing that it takes an incident like this for some to see it.
Goodness...talk about a man blindsided by his partisanship.
What a failure he is...that he cannot rise above his own bias to reveal the truth, considering that is his job.
Never forget that dan rather is not just a reporter, he is the EDITOR and CHIEF to the CBS evening news broadcast.
The money in the business of journalism is in entertainment, not truth.
It's worse than that. Sometime later he did a piece about combat vets so broken by the Vietnam war they were living in the woods. Again, Rather saw what he wanted and did not do research to prove the validity of the claims. None of those men had seen any combat, as proven by the book Stolen Valor. Some spent a good part of their service time in the stockade, for repeated AWOL.
So not only is it likely that danny has a bone to pick with the military, but being a liberal, girlish as it were (unable to form a direct and genuine apology to President Bush and the American people who trusted dan to report honestly), and lacking the COURAGE he has always talked about, dan suffers from a blindsided partisanship so deep, he can no longer recognize the difference between reporting a balanced report and propaganda.
And, outside of the realm of politics and government, let's not forget the 60 Minutes "Unintended Acceleration" smear of Audi, in 1986. This almost destroyed Audi in the U.S.A. in the late 80s and early 90s. Essentially, CBS wrongly blamed operator error on an inanimate object that worked just fine. The parallels to how the lamestream media treats firearms are obvious.
Here are details on that story.
This is normal and a lot more common than we like to think. Most people are miserably ignorant, even many here on FR. They are young. They "know" everything. History began the day they were born. Nothing that happened before matters.
They view life uncluttered by the events and realities of the past and each "new" catastrophe comes to them as a total surprise. A shock. They have no clue.
Philosophy, ethics, history are as foreign to them as Sanskrit. Same ol' same ol'...
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.