Monday, September 20, 2004

Pity Poor Dan Rather


As The New York Times tells it:
CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say

Published: September 20, 2004

After days of expressing confidence about the documents used in a "60 Minutes" report that raised new questions about President Bush's National Guard service, CBS News officials have grave doubts about the authenticity of the material, network officials said last night.

The officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents' origins. CBS News has already begun intensive reporting on where they came from, and people at the network said it was now possible that officials would open an internal inquiry into how it moved forward with the report. Officials say they are now beginning to believe the report was too flawed to have gone on the air.
Misled? Misled? A reporter is supposed to cross-check sources. It didn't happen in this case because CBS News -- Dan Rather, in particular -- wanted the memos to be real. As the Times story says a few grafs later:
Mr. Rather and others at the network are said to still believe that the sentiment in the memos accurately reflected Mr. Killian's feelings but that the documents' authenticity was now in grave doubt.
Great reporting Dan. Why don't you quit pretending to be a reporter and just start editorializing? I forgot, you've been doing that for years -- without labeling your "news" stories as editorials.

Now, here's Dan himself (according to Drudge):
EXCLUSIVE // Mon Sep 20 2004 11:58:02 ET

Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question -- and their source -- vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where -— 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.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.
Nice try, Dan. At least you didn't say that "the sentiment in the memos accurately reflected Mr. Killian's feelings." (Perhaps you will, in your memoirs.) But I still ask this: How in the hell could you -- and the others at CBS News involved creating the story -- have been misled? There's one plausible answer: All of you wanted the story to be true.

Now tell us your source -- your real source, not that poor schnook Bill Burkett. Or would that revelation embarrass your friends in the Democrat Party?