Friday, September 17, 2004

Bad Week at Black Rock

Get off it, Danny! Admit what you are. A political whore for kerry and the DNC! - Sailor

New York Post Editorial

September 17, 2004 --
Dan Rather and CBS may forever claim they were justified in having aired documents last week about Presi dent Bush that even they themselves now question, but many viewers seem to disagree.

"We're being perceived as 'anti-Bush,' " one CBS official reportedly said.

No wonder.

Rather & Co. have been reduced to the point where the best they can offer in defense of the documents — which relate to Bush's National Guard service in the '70s — is someone who claims first-hand knowledge that they are fake.

Marian Carr Knox, the 86-year-old former secretary to the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, said flatly on Wednesday night's "60 Minutes II" that the network's memos, purportedly written by her boss, are definite forgeries.

But, as Rather made sure to note, she also insists the information in those documents — which claim that the young George W. Bush received preferential treatment in his Air National Guard duties — is accurate.

That plays quite nicely into Rather's heated on-air insistence that "those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of our report."

Except that Mrs. Knox's memory is flatly contradicted by two other people who should know: Killian's widow and his son.

And while Rather speaks darkly about "partisan political ideological forces" who are "concentrating on questions about the documents," he never bothered to share with his audience Mrs. Knox's own decidedly partisan feelings about President Bush: He's "unfit for office," she says, and was "selected, not elected."

In fact, the only new points in this whole story are the ones contained in these documents — which the network's own star witness now says are phony.

It's been that kind of a week for the folks at CBS.

Which makes Rather's continued public defiance so bizarre.

Other major news media seem to have zeroed in on the likely source of the documents: retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, who has been making wild — and unsubstantiated — claims about Bush for five years now as part of an ongoing vendetta against the Guard over his medical benefits.

Burkett's lawyer, a longtime Texas Democratic activist, will say only that his client — who's had two nervous breakdowns — "no longer trusts any possible outcome of speaking to the press on any issue regarding George W. Bush."

And this is what Dan Rather and CBS consider "an unimpeachable source"?

Meanwhile, two of the four outside experts named by CBS as having authenticated the documents before they were broadcast say they did no such thing — in fact, they say, they warned the network about "red flags" in the memos.

CBS admits that problems were noted, but were dismissed because they weren't "substantial" objections.

Also relevant is who shepherded the in vestigation for CBS: Mary Mapes, Rather's personal producer at "60 Minutes II."

The anchor says Mapes has been "investigating this story for five years."

But that raises two questions:

* Has Mapes become obsessed with trying to nail George W. Bush? (She once tried to prove that Texas executed innocent men while he was governor.)

* And if she's been on this story for five years, shouldn't she be able to tell the difference between genuine documents and phony ones — as Internet bloggers did in a matter of hours?

Frankly, it's hard to disagree with White House spokesman Scott McClellan's assessment that Rather and CBS "are working on feelings instead of facts."

And if those conducting CBS' in-house investigation are the same ones who put the documents on the air in the first place, how can anything it concludes be taken seriously?

Nor will it be acceptable for the network to string this out forever, claiming that probes remain inconclusive.

Still, Rather keeps fulminating that President Bush's "powerful and well-financed" supporters are trying to "change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents."

"What kind of journalist would I be . . . if at the first sign of pressure I backed down?" he asked.

Oh, climb down from your high horse, Dan.

Any truly fair and honorable journalist — when confronted by overwhelming evidence that he got it wrong — would be more interested in trying to perfect the record than in simply spewing venom at those who caught the mistakes.

It is Rather and CBS who are condemning the messengers while ignoring the message.

This much is clear: At some point, ei ther CBS will be vindicated — which right now seems like no more than a network pipe-dream . . . Or it will have to admit its failures.

Which would be of monumental proportion, given their intended impact on the upcoming presidential election.

The further out on the limb CBS and Rather go, the harder may be their fall.

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