“You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.” – Jonathan Klein
That mocking quote by Jonathan Klein has been adopted by the blogosphere and turned into an anthem by many of the same bloggers who have gleefully — and might I add successfully — dissected Dan Rather’s fake memos like a high school science whiz carving away at a frog.
However, the snarky nature of the Klein quote has obscured a larger truth: that a network like CBS shouldn’t have needed bloggers — pajama clad or not — to have pointed out that their story was less credible than a column about ethics in journalism written by Jayson Blair. CBS has an immense budget, a large, experienced, staff as well as all the contacts & resources that they needed to determine the truth of the story before it ever hit the airwaves.
So how did they get fooled? Well, to be quite frank, merely saying that CBS was “duped” is being charitable.
CBS interviewed the wife & son of the supposed source of the document and both told them that they believed the documents were fake, but they were ignored. Dean Roome, who is now openly saying the documents are forged, was also interviewed by CBS, but was discounted reportedly because he was “pretty pro-Bush”. “Bobby Hodges, a former Texas Air National Guard general whom 60 Minutes claimed had authenticated the memos” was only read the memos and was never told that they weren’t handwritten. Once he found out that crucial fact, he too questioned the legitimacy of the memos.
On top of all of that, Linda James & Emily Will, document examiners hired by CBS to authenticate the memos, both declined to do so. Will even went so far as to say that,
“I told (CBS) that all the questions I was asking them on Tuesday night, they were going to be asked by hundreds of other document examiners on Thursday if they ran that story.”
Given all of that, at best CBS must have known that there was a good chance that the documents weren’t real and at worst, they believed the memos were fake and hoped that they would be shielded from scrutiny because the documents were from an anonymous source.
“Memogate,” “Rathergate,” “Danron,” whatever you want to call it, has been the most egregious example of the old media acting recklessly of late, but there’s no dearth of other shady stories getting a lot of play.
Kitty Kelley, who has long had a reputation for making wild & unprovable allegations with no proof to back them up, is accusing George Bush of using cocaine during his father’s tenure in the White House among other things. However, the supposed source of that allegation, Sharon Bush, is denying that she ever told Kelley that and is now even considering suing Kelley for libel.
Ben Barnes has once again been trotted out by the media to claim that he helped George Bush get into the National Guard. However, Barnes is a Vice-Chair of the Kerry campaign who raised more than $100,000 for John Kerry and has personally introduced him at a fund-raiser. Moreover, his OWN DAUGHTERhas been calling talk radio shows and admitting that her father told her that he’s lying about George Bush for political purposes and to sell a book.
Then there’s the hot, new anti-Bush book written by Seymour Hersh, the Kitty Kelley of mainstream journalism. Hersh’s book, “Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib,” tries to tie the Bush administration to the Abu Ghraib scandal. Here’s how the The Seattle Times describes Hersh’s sourcing…
“Hersh’s account is based on anonymous sources, some of them secondhand, and could not be independently verified.”
Secondhand anonymous sources, huh? That sounds ironclad. Especially coming from the guy who quoted an anonymous source as saying that “The war was now a stalemate” and that “The only hope is that (our troops) can hold out until reinforcements arrive” during the middle of our three-week long invasion of Iraq.
Oh, but when a group like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that might damage Kerry, hits the scene, it’s a completely different story.
You have this enormous array of vets who knew John Kerry, fought beside him, and were in his chain of command, all saying that he’s lying about his record. Moreover, Kerry has been caught in lies about the “No Man Left Behind” incident & Cambodia. His own biography contradicts his accounts of how he got some of his medals, Kerry refuses to release his records, and JFK has been dodging Swift Boat Vet related questions from the press for more than a month and half now.
Yet, the mainstream media reaction to the Swifties has been pure skepticism. Not only are they refusing to buy into what the Swift Boat Vets are saying, they’re treating it as lacking in credibility to such a degree that they don’t believe John Kerry should even have to bother to respond to it.
In fact, the way that CBS has treated these fake memos is particularly ironic in light of the old media’s reaction to the charges made by the Swift Boat Vets against John Kerry. If Dan Killian, the man who was supposed to have written the forged memos, was alive and saying something negative about John Kerry instead of George W. Bush, we could be almost certain that the old media would immediately write him off as untrustworthy.
So why is the old media adopting “Enquirer” standards as to what are “credible” allegations when George Bush is involved? Many people, myself among them, believe it’s because of this…
“The New York Times conducted an informal poll of journalists at the recent Democratic convention that showed they favor John Kerry for president over President Bush by 3 to 1, while reporters based in Washington, D.C., support the Massachusetts senator by 12 to 1.”
The old media’s liberal bias is on display day in and day out. It’s in the questions they ask to each candidate, which stories are on the front page and which ones get buried on A-18, news stories that are filled with liberal opinion, a preponderance of liberal writers on the editorial pages, and a dozen other small ways in which ideolog trumps the old media’s supposed neutrality.
That’s why it makes no difference if bloggers, particularly conservative bloggers, wear their ideologies on their sleeve. CBS, The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post — they all have viewpoints too, but unlike bloggers, they’re not honest about where they stand.
And now, there are other options out there for people who want a different point of view, people who’re tired of having their concerns ignored by old media sources that practically sneer when George Bush’s name is mentioned. Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, the “old grey lady” and a few other liberal news sources can no longer dominate the debate as they once did and over time, their influence will continue to wane because of talk radio, bloggers, Fox News, conservative websites, and right-leaning magazines. The new media is now stepping up to do the job that the old media refused to do and the public will be better served for it…