September 17, 2004

You're paying for Nexis, people. Use it.

Articles about Dan Rather's perceived liberal bias, and particularly his antipathy to all things Bush, are entirely appropriate right now. But in a typical case of reporters ignoring evidence that goes against their storyline, I have yet to see a single one of these articles mentioning these Rather quotes:

"George Bush is the president. He makes the decisions, and, you know, it's just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. And he'll make the call."

"If he needs me in uniform, tell me when and where--I'm there."

I'm not saying this post-9/11 change of heart refutes the premise, but it's a complicating factor that a fair-minded critic would mention.

Meanwhile, I note with some alarm that Bush partisans are now aggressively trying to spin the memo scandal into something even better for them: that the Kerry campaign is directly responsible for the plot. Their evidence: The only reason CBS might have for not burning its source is to avoid revealing that it's getting tips from the Kerry campaign.

In fact I think it's pretty obvious what happened: Bob Burkett had been telling CBS for years about these memos he saw, but the producer kept saying that he'd need to produce hard evidence or they couldn't run with it. Desperate, he reconstructed them from memory. And a too eager CBS accepted them, because, after all, they conformed with what the producers had already learned.

That's inexcusible all around, of course. CBS fucked up big time, and then made matters far, far worse by refusing to acknowledge it (and Rather made himself look like an idiot for mocking the untrustworthy bloggers who in this case turned out to be the trustworthy ones). It's a giant media story. But it's a non-issue in the presidential race.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Okay, I'm serial posting now.

What's amazing to me is that there was all this discussion aboout whether the memos COULD have been produced by a 1960's typewriter, but nobody demanded the easiest and most relevant evidence--show me another document produced by that office at the same time that looks anything like this. I've never seen a thirty-five year old letter that looked like that so I assumed they were fakes from the get go. And I'm not even all that observant.

Ironically, by not challenging the documents in the most straightforward and obvious way, the Bush administration let the validity of the documents--an important issue for the credibility of CBS News but completely irrelevant to either candidate's fitness for office--dominate the news for a week. They are in the four corners offense now, boy, trying to run out the clock. Karl Rove meet Dean Smith.

It's important to separate Dan and the producer of the memo story. The producer may have been politically motivated, but Dan's primary motivation is always the Big Splash story.

Remember, he no-doubt parachuted into this story when it was already close to being finished. He was there to make a high-profile, highly-promotable story into a higher-profile and even more promotable story. The splash was the thing.

You know, Lexis-Nexis really IS kinda expensive, isn't it?

I don't think Rather should get credit for saying, "I would go fight if Bush asked me to!!!" It would necessitate a pretty big attack on America for 70+ anchormen to be drafted!

It's not surprising that CBS presented the documents in the first place (though it was foolish)...but it's shocking that they havehunkered down and refused, in the face of overwhelming evidence, to admit that they were at least questionable. I mean, their whole raison d'etre is uncovering stuff like this. They haven't even addressed it the last 2 nights.

There are (supposedly objective) networks, magazines, and newspapers who are biased on both sides...fortunately, the days of them controlling the information--and ignoring the doubters--are over.

Personally, I couldn't care less if he likes George Bush or not. It's his actions I'm concerned with, not his politics. This stonewalling is just killing them. I predict punji sticks around Black Rock within the week.

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