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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Tremors From Memogate Continue

Two good editorials, one from John Podhoretz, and another from George Neumayr in American Spectator
Here's a quote from The American Spectator Piece:
A former CBS executive, defends the "60 Minutes II" debacle at CBS by asking Americans if they trust anti-Rather bloggers -- a "guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing" -- over a veteran newsman and an established news organization. The American people, with good reason, are choosing the guy in his pajamas. Klein's remark encapsulates the mindless credentialism, sham authority, and elitist insularity that has made CBS so repellent to ordinary Americans. The American people can see that their aging media emperors have less clothing on than pajama-clad bloggers. The tidy world of credentialed news gave us the Jayson Blairs and Janet Cookes, the bogus documents of Seymour Hersh, the phony Dateline car blow-ups, and now 1970s documents produced on 1990s computers. For news executives sitting on a whitened sepulcher, disparaging appearances is the only insult left.
The tremors continue to ripple:
From Podhoretz:

The documents represented the juiciest kind of scoop, the kind that can play a role in changing history. Their most important feature is that they suggest Bush disobeyed a direct order from his commanding officer in the Texas Air National Guard. And that's certainly something John Kerry could use as a direct weapon against George W. Bush in the closing weeks of the campaign to question his fitness as commander in chief.

The documents don't assemble into a smoking gun, but they would have been useful. They might have worked as a delayed-detonation device that Kerry or the media could have triggered during the debates. And we know the Democratic National Committee was going to center a new ad campaign around them.

Add to this the fact that many people at CBS want Bush out of office and want John Kerry elected, and you get a perfect storm of wishful thinking. What could be more alluring, more tempting than a bona fide scoop that serves a desired political purpose? That's the sort of scoop you don't want to discredit in your reporting because your heart and your gut suggest it's true.

And it all might have worked fine had CBS not put the documents out in computer form for everybody to see.

Fifteen years ago — maybe even five years ago — the world would simply have accepted the legitimacy of the documents. After all, CBS said it had gone to an expert to have them authenticated.

Well, this isn't the old days. And for reasons largely consigned within the peculiar brain of its anchorman, Dan Rather, the CBS news division is refusing to face the reality that it has been caught out in the most significant forgery scandal to hit journalism since the Hitler diaries.

CBS News is part of a larger organization. That organization is run by Les Moonves. Moonves cancelled the airing of a docudrama about Ronald and Nancy Reagan because he considered it biased. Will he sit by, silent, as the venerable CBS News "brand" is destroyed from within?

A good question. We are still waiting for the answer....

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