Skip to comments.CBS should investigate - flagship news program hangs in the balance
Posted on 09/18/2004 2:02:52 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Not long ago, pundits feared ongoing allegations about President Bush's National Guard service would hijack the campaign, forcing the candidates to waste precious pre-election time talking about a 30-year-old war. Instead, days after CBS News admitted that it may have featured forged documents in its blockbuster story on Bush's guard activities, something worse has occurred: We are wasting time talking about CBS' coverage of Bush's Vietnam War-era service.
It may have been one of the most rapid disintegrations of a major news story since Jayson Blair. Within hours of the 60 Minutes story Sept. 8 alleging family influence got Bush into the Texas Air National Guard, where he then failed to meet performance requirements, Internet bloggers already were challenging the validity of documents at the center of the program.
By that week's end, several major news outlets had unearthed document specialists or relatives of the documents' reputed author, now-deceased National Guard Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, to dispute CBS' assertion that Killian wrote several memos critical of Bush while resisting pressure to "sugarcoat" his time in the Guard.
On Wednesday, after ABC News featured two experts who said they tried to warn CBS of doubts regarding the memos, anchor Dan Rather offered another defense. The memos may be fake, but the story was right.
In other words, Rather and CBS News want viewers to believe their conclusions, even though crucial evidence offered as proof may not be valid.
Such trust would be a stretch, even for a news organization that hadn't used up so much goodwill by insisting for days that criticism of its now admittedly flawed report was unwarranted.
Worse, the controversy over CBS' story has overshadowed valid Department of Defense documents obtained by the Boston Globe and Associated Press last week showing President Bush failed to meet his service requirements in the Guard and wasn't punished. Such disclosures only confirm longstanding rumors about Bush that many voters have already heard and considered.
However this flap is resolved, many will now see the CBS memo scandal as the story of a liberal-leaning media outlet getting its comeuppance. The Wall Street Journal said as much Thursday, downplaying the role of mainstream outlets such as ABC News and the Washington Post in challenging CBS. The Journal proclaimed "the liberal media establishment has ceased to set the U.S. political agenda." Fortunately, efforts by some GOP lawmakers to initiate a congressional investigation so far have been rejected by Republican leaders.
There's history here. Rather has been a target of conservatives ever since a contentious interview with then-presidential candidate George H.W. Bush 16 years ago. A Web site dubbed RatherBiased.com was among the harshest critics of the memos report, sending out daily updates on the controversy to supporters.
Though CBS News has promised to find out if the memos are fake, a spokeswoman says the network has no plans to launch an internal investigation on how such flawed material wound up in an important story. But that is exactly what CBS should do, in the same way the New York Times and USA Today exhaustively reported the plagiarism of reporters Jayson Blair and Jack Kelly.
And if the network can confirm that its copies of Killian's memos are fakes, CBS should reveal who provided them. Promises of confidentiality should vanish when a source deliberately lies, and viewers deserve the explanation.
Melodramatic as it sounds, the credibility of CBS News, its star anchor and its flagship news program hangs in the balance.
Setunim 09 it is... I LIKE IT... The other best picture for me was the day after the "story" broke somone posted a picture of Dan-o setting in his chair with the the CBS logo pasted over his eyes... looked creepy and funny at the same time.
This Old Media outlet does NOT get it, and doesn't even get the story close to right, whether that story they are reporting is the FRAUDcasting of CBiaS, the way the internet busted the Old Media here, or Bush's Guard service.
This is an effort to defuse the real stories: the FRAUD of CBiaS and the DNC, and the rise of the internet as the premier way to discover the truth.
Dead on. I hope that the key here is simply that there will be no CONGRESSIONAL investigation into this, at this time. Sorry, but that would distract from the campaign, inflame partisans on both sides, and cause charges of "dirty campaigning by Republicans in power" to stick. We don't get down into this muck if we want to continue swinging voters to pull the lever in support of the President. If we refrain from doing so, we will gain the support of those so transparently and unfairly attacking him.
You meant to say 59 minutes of bullcrap
I get your points, but even the SPT is being dragged into this. :)
 Good points. It is obvious from the article that their main emphasis was on bashing Bush.
The continuing silence of CBS is deafening and they offer no reason to explain why they did what they did. If this is allowed to go unpunished what are we to believe about the other news outlets? This is certainly more than a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, oh we didn't mean to do any harm thing. Someone, somewhere must take responsibility and CBS must institute some sort of checks and balances within their own agency if they ever hope to regain public confidence. Mrs PD
Indeed. I agree. The question then is what recourse. My preference is that deceptive media be known as deceptive media, to most of the public. Better to distrust all of it, and for the people to seek facts for themselves, instead of relying on the media to provide an accurate view of reality.
The function of media is to sell advertising. It sees itself, however, and not inaccurately, as a former. of public perception and opinion. The people should resist having their perceptions and opinions formed by the media.
The continuing silence of CBS is deafening and they offer no reason to explain why they did what they did. If this is allowed to go unpunished what are we to believe about the other news outlets?
They are all deceptive. It is a question of degree, not of existence of deception.
Someone, somewhere must take responsibility and CBS must institute some sort of checks and balances within their own agency if they ever hope to regain public confidence.
The NYT instituted "checks and balances" in the wake of Jason Blair. And the NYT is still so hopelessly biased, that a reasonable person SHOULD distrust it.