Monday, September 20, 2004

Recapping the knee-capping

Well, it didn't take long to find connections between the CBS team and Kerry' folks. Note: no one is saying that Kerry's guys orchestrated this. For my part, I don't think that they did. But I think they might have been aware of what one of the little half-crazed foot soldiers had in mind. Most likely we'll never know -- although it's interesting to note that it's largely due to alternative avenues of information that this story broke at all.

I would like to feel sorry for Rather et al, but consider some of the outrageous hypocrisy and duplicity of this:

* When critics to the 60 Minutes story first emerged, Rather got mad that people weren't focusing on the accusations -- um, hello? Remember the Swift Boat Vets? It was apparently enough for everyone to talk from Day One not about the charges but about supposed GOP connections that were never found and a 'web of inconsistencies' that never materialized. No member of the press has ever asked Kerry to answer the charges; talking about the weakness in their case was the only coverage they got in most newspapers and network news.

* Rather tried to deflect accusations about the timing of the story by saying that CBS had been working on it for four years. So we're supposed to believe it was a pure coincidence that it was released shortly before the election and synchronized both with an incredibly mendacious tell-all book by Kitty Kelly and with the last big anti-Bush offensive by the DNC (called "Operation: Fortunate Son")?

* Sept 10 - Rather claims that the criticism of the report was mostly the work of "Partisan political operatives" -- Yep, worked for Hillary. Blast that vast right-wing conspiracy -- they've done it again. Well, this one always plays well to the base, I guess. For the record, the 'partisan political operatives' in this case included Killian's son and widow, lawyers at, journalists at and those rednecks over at NBC, ABC, the LA Times and the Washington Post.

* Sept 15 - "If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story." -- I think he meant this to just shut all the upstarts down once and for good, but the rejoinder was so obvious, everyone almost said it at the same time. "Dan, the story IS broken."

* Sept 15 - CBS interviews Killian's secretary who says that the documents don't seem authentic, but that they reflect what was going on at the time -- A secretary. Right. So without answering the very real concerns that the story was contaminated by fraud, CBS decides to be magnanimous enough to concede that mistakes were made but tells us the story is still right as rain. Hoo boy.

* Sept 20 - Dan Rather's humble pie-eating contest -
If I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question. But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Well, certainly without the fear induced by checking your facts out. And as for the favoritism thing -- don't get me started.


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