Wednesday, January 12, 2005


There's an angle to the Rathergate report that has been entirely missed by both the mainstream media and the web logs.

Since both Ms. Mapes and Mr. Rather contend the documents in question may still be authentic, how did the panel conclude that the problem was "haste", "a rush to air" or "competitive pressures"? It has been several months and these two still have not acknowledged the documents are forgeries. How can the investigators assert that a couple more days back in September would have made a difference?

Either Mapes and Rather are lying about their true beliefs about the docs or the "haste" claim is bogus.

I don't believe that Dan Rather knowingly broadcast fake documents. Mapes, may be a different story.

A second key point made in the report is that Mary Mapes learned, in the course of her five years of research for the story, that its essentials were untrue. Her file reflects that she was told that influence was not used to get President Bush into the Air National Guard; that there was no waiting list for pilots at the time that he joined, but that the TANG was actively seeking pilots; and that, far from trying to avoid service in Vietnam, Lt. Bush had actually volunteered to go to Vietnam but was turned down. Mapes never got any information to contradict any of these three facts.

So she knew that the story she broadcast was false not only in its details but in its essentials, and she broadcast it anyway; and there is strong circumstantial evidence suggesting that she did so in close coordination with the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry campaign.

The zeal with which this non-story was pursued and its airing can only be explained by an institutional bias at CBS. Had there been one person who did not ache for this inconsequential story to be true, then it probably would not have aired. Had there been any semblance of (dare I say) balance in our nation's newsrooms, the story would have been dropped a decade ago.

From my perspective, here's a scale of one to 10 the interest in George Bush's National Guard service among differing groups:

Academia - 7
Major Media - 9
CBS 10
Mapes - 15
General Public - 2

As I've stated before - they are talking to themselves.


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