Grave doubts at CBS ...

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 20 2004 3:14 AM

Grave Doubts!

But whose grave?

(Continued from Page 1)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Why is it significant that retired Col. Walter Staudt denies he sought favorable treatment for George W. Bush when the latter was in the Texas Air National Guard? Not so much because it undermines CBS' story--it does, but Staudt's a Bush supporter which inevitably undercuts his impact. The big thing, it seems to me, is that Staudt is alive. That is, he's alive, was cast in an unfavorable light by CBS' almost-certainly-bogus documents, and can sue for libel.  We may yet get to answer the fascinating questions about the meaning "reckless disregard for the truth" that Rich Lowry alludes to. ... A Staudt suit could change the dynamics of Danron in ways I undoubtedly don't fully comprehend. But here's a first stab: a) It would probably put the lawyers in charge at CBS. No more wimpy deference to Rather's wounded-bull ego. b) It might discourage CBS from sacking Rather--in libel suits, the general rule (I'm told) is that you don't fire the reporter involved for fear he'll start cooperating with the plaintiff, detailing your shoddy reporting and fact-checking methods, etc. Instead, you hold the miscreant close. c) It might help Bush by giving him another day's publicity on the story but d) hurt him by (i) giving Rather an excuse for clamming up ("my lawyers instruct me ..."), (ii) rallying the press and other First Amendment types around CBS, and, (iii) in general making the whole epic disaster seem like just another Westmorelandish private lawsuit--suitable for Court TV but not CNN. ... 11:37 P.M.

kf, Bulwark of Explanatory Power: One obvious possible way to half-reconcile the divergent polls, suggested by Rasmussen's robo-survey: Wednesday 9/15, when the probable Danron forgery began to sink in, was a gruesome day for Kerry. The Harris poll (Kerry up 1) stopped Monday. The Pew poll (Kerry down 1) stopped on Tuesday. Gallup (Kerry down 14) includes Kerry's bleak Wednesday. ...P.S.: But he's a good loser! [Don't you mean 'closer'?-ed. Right. Damn key is stuck.] ... P.P.S.: Thanks to alert reader A.C. ... Update: Gallup's David Moore  backs what is essentially this theory. ... Update: Simpler Explanation! 9/15 was the first night of Rosh Hashanah, and the polls on that day were missing still-relatively-Democratic Jewish voters. [Thanks to alert reader J.P.]... 3:16 A.M.

"Long A Republican Bulwark, A Growing Arizona Is In Play": The Los Angeles Times declares Arizona "in play"  on Thursday's front page. It's not until page A20 that Maria La Ganga's readers find out Bush is ahead by 16 points! ...  Patterico busts them. ... Can't they let Kinsley edit the news pages too? ... P.S.: Does anybody except bad headline writers actually use the word "bulwark"? 2:36 A.M.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mary Mapes, the producer of the report and a well-respected, veteran journalist whose credibility has never been questioned, has been following this story for more than five years

and

has a vast and detailed knowledge of the issues surrounding Bush's service in the Guard and of the individuals involved in the story [emphasis added]

then why had CBS apparently not interviewed Lt. Col. Killian's secretary, Ms. Knox, before they ran with the (probably bogus) Killian memo story last week? Alert kf reader D.B. wants to know! ... Update: Turns out Bill Adams made this pointand the point in the item below, at length, on Wednesday. Another question: Assuming kf's speculation below about the ratings-boosting effect of the forgery controversy is wrong, how long will CBS president Les Moonves sit around and watch the flailing Dan Rather, Andrew Heyward and Josh ("Everything I've seen makes me completely confident in the documents") Howard destroy his company's brand? ...  5:19 P.M.

Mr. X emails again:

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