Grave doubts at CBS ...

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

Grave Doubts!

But whose grave?

(Continued from Page 2)

So...CBS now says that the documents may not be authentic, but puts on a 86 year old woman to establish that the "substance" of the documents is accurate because she remembers typing docs like these. So, heres the question: If CBS didnt have any docs, but had a 86 year old woman going on air saying that more than 30 years ago she remembers her boss being upset with Bush not showing up for a physica; and typing docs to that effect, how strong a story would that be? Not very, I suspect for the obvious reasons: her age, passage of time and inevitable fogginess over what exactly Killian's complaint was, how strongly he felt about it and inevitable confusion over the grabbiest point o fthe docs: that Bush disobeyed a direct order. [Emphasis added, typos preserved]

Also, as CBS somehow forgot to point out last night, she's a strong Bush opponent (in the Dallas Morning News she called Bush "unfit for office" and "selected not elected"). [He wasn't selected?-ed. I'm just saying her political stance is something you'd want to know when assessing her credibility. I agree she seemed quite believable, judging solely from what we saw on camera.] ... 5:03 P.M.

'If I've lost my mind, I'd like to break that story': I thought this was funny. So sue me. 4:38 P.M.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Judging from tonight's televised non-retraction by CBS news chief Andrew ("This is going to hold up  ") Heyward, it looks as if CBS will continue to twist slowly, slowly in the wind. ... Here's the interesting possibility, brought to my attention in an email by blogger Steve Smith (who may also have guessed right with his "grand hypothesis"): Does this ongoing story hurt Bush in the polls even if it focuses on forgery and possible CBS malpractice?After all, it keeps the subject of Bush and the Guard in the news, which might not help the president. Without the forgery issue the whole story might have disappeared days ago. ... Maybe that's why Rather has seemingly insanely dug in his heels: He knows that by dragging out his and CBS's agony he's also dragging out Bush's agony. ... It's also good for ratings. [Update: Maybe not ] People haven't paid this much attention to Dan Rather in years. ... Certainly tonight's CBS Evening News broadcast, which managed to lovingly rehash the charges against Bush (and hype "60 II") in the process of fudging the key forgery issue, fit this strategy. ... P.S.: Maybe left-wing bloggers will be playing smart politics if they now initiate a noisy, cannibalistic orgy of recrimination! The Daily KOS could start things off by demanding Rather's head.He's worth sacrificing to keep the story alive.... [Thanks to reader M.H. for "Gotterdannerung"] ... P.P.S.: Several emailers note that Heyward's statement says the memos are "accurate," not that they are "authentic."  That's significant, but along with  Josh Marshall I very much doubt that CBS will be able to avoid an apology by taking a "fake but accurate" line. Also, as  Ellisblog points out, CBS may have a powerful, undiscussed reason for trying to avoid ever explicitly acknowledging the first half--"fake"--of that formulation: Unless they keep at least a flicker of hope for the memo's authenticity alive, they won't have a good excuse for refusing to reveal their source. ... 6:40 P.M.

Thoughtful kf contribution to our global dialogue: Did CBS actually have all six of the documents that USAT obtained but choose to disclose only four? If so why? Opinion-ridden speculation here  ... Update: CBS's defensive memo admits the network had all six documents. Hmmm. ... 4:27 P.M.

Pinch on blogs: "While some of these individuals are making a serious and thoughtful contribution to our global dialogue, too many simply contribute to the sense that we're in the midst of an opinion-ridden free-for-all." Can't have that! [Emphasis added] ... P.S.:kf management pledges to continue to instill its core journalistic value of mocking Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. whenever possible. ... 4:17 P.M.

I Coulda Had MO:RCP's John McIntyre argues Kerry is probably regretting his pick of Edwards over Gephardt. ... 3:49 P.M.

New CBS slogan: "Fake But Accurate" Like the best fiction, CBS News is truer than reality! ... Except, of course, that if Bush disobeyed a direct order to take a physical (what the 'fake-but-accurate' memos purport to document) it would be a degree worse than simply not showing up for an exam. ... 10:42 A.M.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I'm sure I'm not the first to note that (if this transcript is accurate) the Monday edition of Dan Rather's Daily Defense of the CBS Bush doc story contained some wafflier, setting-it-up-for-the-letdown, language:

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