Tags: When | C.redibility | B.asically | S.uperficial

When C.redibility is B.asically S.uperficial

Tuesday, 14 September 2004 12:00 AM

The controversy centers around four documents that CBS obtained from unnamed sources, essentially claiming that Bush was suspended from flying, failed to report for a physical, and was being pressured by superiors to “sugarcoat” Bush’s performance.

The originator of these documents is the now-deceased Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, Bush’s superior at the time.

In the new media world of the Internet, news travels fast. Almost immediately, Internet bloggers cried foul over the memos, and even the old media had to sit up and take notice. ABC News made it their lead story on Friday, and the Washington Post had it on page one of their papers. Are these documents as phony as the day is long? And is CBS an echo chamber for the Kerry campaign. Maybe, and yes.

On the Documents: Numerous typographical anomalies point to a technology that was extremely sparse, and in some cases, unavailable in 1972. Words and terminology like “superscript” and “Times New Roman,” has become a subject for the water cooler set and coffee klatch devotees.

But many other peculiarities point to the folly of the “60 Minutes” report.

Rather neglects to mention that James Moore, a key source for his story, is a left-wing author who has written two unflattering books against Bush—“Bush's Brain,” and “Bush's War for Reelection.”

Rather ignored statements from Killian’s wife and son, who on numerous radio and TV spots stated that Killian hardly kept notes, and kept no personal files. Killian’s widow and son further state that Jerry Killian very much liked Bush. Instead, Rather and “60 Minutes” pin their hopes upon people like Moore, Barnes, and Maj. General Bobby Hodges, who at first believed that the memos were written by Killian. But now they tell ABC News that he was “misled” by CBS, and further states that the documents are “computer-generated” and a “fraud.”

There are many more inconsistencies in this story, far too many, for a near-iconoclastic organization like CBS to be ignorant of. Even the organization’s signature expert, Marcel Matley, had undermined Rather’s case against Bush when he wrote this in an op-ed several years earlier for the American Law Institute: "Do not passively accept a copy as the sole basis of a case. Every copy, intentionally or unintentionally, is in some way false to the original. In fact, modern copiers and computer printers are so good that they permit easy fabrication of quality forgeries."

This is important to know, as CBS had photocopies of the documents in question. Another little nugget worth dwelling on is that Dan Rather’s chief accuser against Bush, Ben Barnes, said he helped Bush get into the Guard when he was lieutenant governor of Texas. That was in 1969. Bush joined the Guard in May of 1968.

This sounds all too familiar. Remember John Kerry’s “Christmas in Cambodia” yarn?

“On more than one occasion, I, like Martin Sheen in "Apocalypse Now," took my patrol boat into Cambodia. In fact, I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodia border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.”

Great story, but one of the problems with it is that Nixon was not in office yet. Oops.

This all leads to a conclusion that many on the right, and middle-of-the-road viewers, believe to be true: Old media monoliths like CBS cannot be considered non-partisan, and cannot be relied upon to report objectively upon the political events as they happen.

CBS has none-too-quietly campaigned against Bush all year long. They have done so through the very source of their long-celebrated asset, their investigative news shows.

Besides the networks standard liberal bias - as ex-CBS insider Bernard Goldberg exposed to all in his book “Bias,” - CBS has taken a direct hand in John Kerry’s campaign for President.

On January 11, Leslie Stahl of “Sixty Minutes” questioned former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill on his new book “The price of Loyalty,” written by Ron Suskind. In it, O’Neill spins a tale of the President’s obsession with invading Iraq, and how Bush was “always trying a way to do it.” In the end, O’Neill sounds more frustrated at the lack of recognition, and appears badly out-of-step with the administration.

On March 21, Leslie Stahl interviewed Richard Clarke, former terrorism czar and now animated anti-Bush foe, on his new book “Against all Enemies.” Many saw Clarke as an opportunist, and disgruntled ex-political chief.

On April 18, “Sixty Minutes” Mike Wallace interviews beltway scribe and reporter Bob Woodward on his new book, “Plan of Attack,” a book anticipated for weeks by the elite establishment as a condemnation of the Bush administration and its “rush to war” against Iraq. Stunningly, Woodward actually solidifies Bush’s credentials as commander-in-chief, whereupon the White House provides excerpts of the book on its web site.

On April 28, Dan Rather on “Sixty Minutes” reported on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, creating a firestorm that is still being investigated. While CBS delayed the initial broadcasting of the infamous prison pictures at the request of Gen. Richard Myers, the broadcasting of the pictures themselves was an error in judgment and a service to terrorists everywhere.

All the above are examples of CBS attempting to sway public opinion against Bush through their news department, without much of a chance of rebuttal from the accused.

CBS knew there were questions about the veracity of the four documents Dan Rather led with, but, nevertheless, chose to believe in them. Dan Rather knew Ben Barnes swore previously against having any contact with the Bush family as far as helping Bush get into the guard, but that was not questioned. Rather himself has played the role of Democratic fundraiser in Ben Barnes’ very district in Texas, but that is conveniently omitted.

CBS and Dan Rather particularly, have disgraced themselves. If these documents are forged, as I believe them to be, John Kerry and his campaign are finished. Furthermore, Rather and CBS will have done what Republicans could not seem to do: effectively highlight once and for all that liberal bias among the main stream media is very real, and active in the selection of the next President.

As the old media crumbles around itself, the new media steps up to fill the void. It was the Internet that broke this story, and talk radio that gave it flight. I do not think the Dan Rathers of yesterday’s news will be missed. After all, people want the facts, not an ideological reinvention of them.


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The controversy centers around four documents that CBS obtained from unnamed sources, essentially claiming that Bush was suspended from flying, failed to report for a physical, and was being pressured by superiors to "sugarcoat" Bush's performance. The originator of these...
Tuesday, 14 September 2004 12:00 AM
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