What is the lesson of "RatherGate" & CBS News?

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Walter Cronkite must be rolling over in his grave. Dan Rather and a female CBS News producer (Mary Mapes) are on the hot seat for their reckless handling of the accounts surrounding President Bush's National Guard Service. The network's rush to judgement in accepting the "authenticity" of the documents by an open anti-Bush critic is sloppy journalism in the worst case. Interesting how left-of-center critics have not uttered a word about this great travesty yet nearly every liberal organization wanted to silence the 527 organization (Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) for their outspoken remarks questioning Sen. Kerry's Vietnam accomplishments. The double-standard is strikingly obvious.

The documents allegedly show the President received preferential treatment by his National Guard superiors. Furthermore, Mr. Burkett, the anti-Bush critic, clearly indicated he wanted the documents forwarded to the Kerry Camp. This is pretty disgusting. This is one of the more blatant and heinous acts of a journalistic organization being driven by a political agenda. CNN terminated the services of Peter Arnett after his ethical lapses in covering war stories. Last year the NY Times fired a young, aggressive black reporter, Jayson Blair, for his penchant in embellishing the truth and willful plaigarism. The journalistic "sin" of Rather and his colleague Ms. Mapes should be treated no different. His mea culpa is noted but the damage to CBS's credibility may be longer to restore. The motto of Fox News is right, "we report, you decide". QED

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2004


Bill...I thought Walter Cronkite was still alive at age 87. He was once considered the most trusted man in America. I can still remember hearing him say his famous line when signing off "...and that's the way it is..." Dan Rather is just a fine example of what the news media has become. It appears that it is better to be first with the scoop, than accuracy within the reporting of the story. I stopped watching the CBS evening news some time ago since I was tired and no longer wished to (excuse me Twan and Blaine, my favorite characters from "In Living Color")...CBS! However, I have discovered that all news services have certain slants and bias. It may be time for ol'Dan to move on to commentary a la Andy Rooney. I believe his replacement has been groomed and prepared to arrive on the scene.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2004

Parson Allen - I suppose Mr. Cronkite fully appreciates that classic line from Will Rogers who once quipped - "Reports about my death are greatly exaggerated". Thanks for the correction. My sincere apologies to the Cronkite family and his loyal admirers for my form of "reckless" journalism. Now I do believe Cronkite's contemporary, David Brinkley, has passed on and hopefully he is at that place where Deacons from my childhood days would pray - "Lord let me go to that place where no hearse wheels be turning and the wicked will cease from troubling and my weary soul will be at rest". QED

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2004


The lesson is the old adage, "Where there is smoke, there is fire". CBS reported what a great number of Americans believe to be accurate and true, even though the evidence of it has been well covered and hidden from view.

Some on this board might have forgotten "Watergate", but I have not. Having lived through three major political assassinations and Watergate--possibly a fourth assassination when I remember the possible but unsubstantiated assassination of Dag Hammarskjold. Neither have I forgotten what it means for political officials to gerrymander votes, cheat, deceive and lie.

You can be certain that the embers will continue to smolder and smoke beneath the ash, even though the actual fires are not yet ablaze with it and the evident of the blaze remains hidden and yet unseen.

A further perhaps unrelated, substantiation, of political games is this: I am presently reading a book entitled, “Mother R”, by Elliot Roosevelt, the son of FDR, the President. It appear from Elliot Roosevelt’s point of view that Dwight David Eisenhower was a Democrat who was favored and chosen by the Roosevelts, especially Mrs. FDR, because they did not totally agree with the views of Harry S. Truman as President. So they chose and schooled Eisenhower to take his place.

If what I am reading is correct (between the lines) when this strategy finally came to fruition, Eisenhower realized that despite his and the Rossevelts best efforts Adlai Stevenson would win the nomination instead of him , and probably become the next President. So he jumped ship on the Roosevelts and sought election as the Republican candidate instead.

As Solomon says, "There is nothing new under the sun". We see this once again in Zell Miller and others who think like him. Political games are with us as they have been since the Garden of Eden and the Fall.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2004

This response is not directly related to the question, but the mention of Hammarskjold reminds me of a situation which proved something Jack Paar had said to be true. [There I go, telling my age again.] Jack had been opining (and those of you who remember him, know he "opined" a lot) about how journalist often write stories before the event in order to scoop or make deadlines. Well, the day Hammarskjold died, our morning newspaper reported that he had arrived at wherever he was going and who met had met him at the airport. However, by the time the papers were delivered, almost everyone knew that his plane had crashed enroute and did not make it to its destination and no one met him at the airport.

Just remember, so much of what is played up in the media has to be taken with a grain of salt...and maybe a stiff belt of prune juice.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2004

Robert -

My favorite quote by Hammarskjold is "The longest journey is the journey inward." Now, just to be sure that I follow your commentary, when you say - "CBS reported what a great number of Americans believe to be accurate and true, even though the evidence of it has been well covered and hidden from view" - three questions immediately come to mind. First, what proof can you offer that there is a "cover-up" about the National Guard letter? Second, should a news network, not just CBS, be engaged in partisan politics? Third, are you suggesting that CBS demonstrated proper journalistic ethics and corporate responsibility by airing and defending the 60 Minutes episode without first confirming the authenticity of the materials in question? I know of no respected School of Journalism which would find CBS's actions acceptable from a professional standpoint. People believe many things to be accurate and true but without corroborating evidence of its authenticity the beliefs are nothing more than urban legends, conspiracy theories and fodder used for slander and smear campaigns. QED

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2004

What I find quite interesting in this whole debacle is that the Bush campaign does not doubt that "idea" might have a basis in reality. Bush and his minions made a big deal over Kerry's service and seem to sidestep the Mr. Bush's lack of service. Which is appalling since he has sentenced so many young Americans to die for a cause which changes with regularity. First, WMD, second Iraqi democracy, now the enforcement of UN sanctions an action that was not supported by the UN. What's next, the liberation of Santa Claus?

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2004

"The journalistic "sin" of Rather and his colleague Ms. Mapes should be treated no different. His mea culpa is noted but the damage to CBS's credibility may be longer to restore."

Who then takes responsibility for the bogus Niger letter regarding the purchase of uranium - an obviously bogus document presented to the public as authentic. Whom do we fire for this heinous crime? The damage has been done in countless lives. Who's credibility can no longer be restored?

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2004

Mary -

You have avoided the question which I asked and shaped your response with a digression about actions by the Bush State Department. Those allegations are not germane to the topic of the thread. The topic and the question I offered is simple. Did CBS display acceptable journalistic ethics and corporate responsibility by running a story which was based on fradulent information? A simple yes or no will suffice. QED

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2004

Yes. Yes. Yes. A resounding yes to your answer!

Now, you answer the question that I posed. Thousands of American and Iraqui lives are the line. If you do not pose the answer on this board fine, but answer truthfully to yourself.

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2004

Mary -

Let's see so your answer is 'yes'. Your response would indicate that you condone the actions of a news agency to present fraudulent information as truth before verifying the source. I don't think any distiguished faculty member at the Annenberg School of Communications at UPenn would reach a similar conclusion as yours. Now, why should I answer the question(s) you posed? They are irrelevant to the theme of this topic. If you wish to initiate a new thread with that as a topic I would be more than happy to respond. For right now, I'm staying focused on the topic at hand. QED

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2004

Wow Bill..... You are as adept at subterfuge as your hero Bush.

In my haste I did not answer the question fully. My "yes" meant that I do not believe Dan Rather or CBS practiced good journalism. I believe he remembered the 1988 run in with Bush Sr. and was most anxious to strike at Jr. Rather has had other public journalistic incidents in his career when he was supposedly assaulted on a NY street, supposedly scared off a burglar in 1977 with a shot gun and male bravado, and then the 1980 Afghanistan Soviet war when an Afghan newspaper accused him of stoning 3 villagers to death.

Oddly enough, Bartlett nor Bush have never disagreed with the memos, but simply stated Bush served "honorably." I now wonder what their definition of honor is.

My problem with the whole election is the dumbing down of America and the acceptance by the American public of lies from our public figures. No one is asking the presidential candidates the hard questions and demand they be truthful in their answers. We all sit back and accept the lies. Now we are required to choose a liar along with his bag of tricks and more lies. How very sad. Again, I state, you are so very upset about Dan Rather and his heinous crimes. Why do you run from an obvious lie that cost thousands of lives? Why could the Bush administration not tell an obviously forged Niger letter? Collin Powell knew it was a fake, but the Bush administration kept pushing it.

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2004

Mary -

Now how am I to know that you behaved "hastily" in providing a misleading response? I get blamed for a lot of things (some deserving) but imputing blame on me for you not reading and interpreting the question correctly is new territoy. It appears you are refuse to take up the Niger letter as a new thread. Why are so adamant about wanting to clutter this thread with the imbroglio over the infamous Iraq-Niger letter used by President Bush in his indictment of Saddam Hussein prior to the invasion? This is best handled as a separate thread.

I am not engaging in subterfuge, nor am I running away from your questions. Again, your accusations about the Niger letter are immaterial to this topic. Whether the Niger letter is false was not going to matter because the decision to prosecute Iraq militarily was based on Saddam not being in compliance with UN Resolution 1441. That was the 17th resolution passed by the Security Council demanding that Saddam comply with the demand for dismatlment of WMD.

The Niger letter, purportedly documenting evidence that Iraq was in the process of aquiring uranium rich materials, was not based on American intelligence (CIA denied its authenticity) but British intelligence. However, before the Niger letter surfaced many of your "heroes" concluded that evidence clearly pointed to Saddam's nefarious plan to stockpile WMD. Here is a partial sampling from the NY Times archives of anti-Saddam comments from your Democratic leaders:

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002:

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002:

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."

Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002:

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002:

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002:

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."

Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002:

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."

Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003:

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real...”

These comments show that Democratic Senators were also convinced that Saddam was flagrantly violating UN Resolution 1441. War was imminent. You oppossed the invasion and that's fine but your opposition to the invasion is no way exonerated because of the suspect Niger letter. It's interesting how you are quick to blame everything about Iraq on the President yet you remain silent as a corpse about Saddam's defiance and US Democratic responsibility for the loss of life. My hero is not partisan politics but truth. QED

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2004

How did the above referenced persons make a decision based on bogus information presented to them by the present administration? Did they know about the documents and the sources used to information about WMD, or did they simply go along with the majority?

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2004

The Democratic Senators had knowledge about Saddam's stockpiling of WMD during the presidency of WJC. This is a fact. If you would put down your partisan view and look at the situation objectively you will understand the Democatic Senators better. You appear to want to finger their decision based on "bogus information" provided by the current administration. That charge is simply incorrect, illogical and implausible. The Iraqi regime under Saddam has been stockpiling WMD long before the arrival of "W". I suppose you think the Kurdish slaughter by Saddam didn't occur or the repeated and failed efforts by past UN weapons inspectors to conduct their work in Baghdad was a myth. The UN passed 17 resolutions (15 before W became President) demanding that the Iraqi regime dismantle all WMD. The last resolution stipulated that military force would not be ruled out as an option to get Saddam to comply. No one except the US and Britain took that stipulation seriously. As history will show, it was a costly mistake for Saddam. QED

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2004


I do not have a partisan view. As I have said before, I do not believe either candidate is worthy of the title US President. In any event, Powell as well as the administration, with the exception of the deferment laden VP, has already said there are (were) no WMDs.

I asked a direct question. On what information did the US government (Democrats and Republicans)base their decision to go to war? So far, every piece of evidence and persons have proven to be bogus. Frankly, I am outraged that American lives have been killed due to inept leadership. Rumsfeld said he thought the Iraqi people would greet Americans as liberators. He was right....they did... for a month. Now, they just want us out of their country.

It is my true belief that God will punish America for what she has done. With the money used for an illegal war, many ills of society could have been addressed. And anyone who allows themselves to be lied to is well...............My momma did not raise no fool!

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2004

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