For some reason, there is a pretty big apparent fraud going on in the media world right now that John isn’t inclined to address, so I guess I will.
Here is my take on this whole “CBS-National Guard document” fiasco. CBS, has had knowledge of this story, in one way or another, for years now. They, along with many others, fully believe that Bush got preferential treatment to get into the Guard, and was protected while serving, and then was quietly exited out with an official blessing. Hearing that someone out there has personal documents that “prove” what many already believe to be true, they have slowly developed a trust with the source, likely through a third party, and eventually were able to review, and then “independently authenicate” and finally, use, the damming documents. The level of belief that CBSNews had in the sincerity of the people involved and the basic authentic wording and “look” of the papers was likely in direct negative correlation to the rigorousness of the effort used to verify them. Did they pass the “sniff test” and could CBS get some kind of document authority to pass positive judgement on them? (Even without, apparently, being able to view all the documents first-hand!) In the end, they felt so.
Remember, the powers behind this investigation were likely all working under the same assumed reality that Bush is guilty of receiving and taking improper advantage of special treatment in connection with his Guard service. Now they felt they had the smoking gun to prove their belief. All the dots seemed connected, in terms of who had the documents in their possession, the time period that was involved, why they weren’t available as a part of any legal public disclosure, and in the affirmation by other people associated with the source who agreed that he could have plausibly created and maintained such documents. This belief was now strong enough to discard conflicting evidence, such as skeptical family members and some relevant expert authorities.
Now, faced with overwhelming criticism over not only their claims, but also in the way they went about their investigative process, CBS is in full panic mode. They insist on the authenticity of the papers and scurry to find new “proof” and corroborating authorities and associates of the source (although saner minds at the network managed to get a small retreat position built into their official statement, regarding the “redoubling” of their efforts to insure accuracy).
The underlying rationale that Rather and the Gang seem to be holding onto is this: Regardless of the ultimate fate of the documents themselves, the “truth” is still unchanged. That is, that Bush’s Guard service is full of fradulent actions and improper favoritism. That “truth” should therefore overarc the legitimacy of the process used to present it.
In my opinion, that mindset will ultimately result in the discrediting of the main message that the powers behind this news story wanted to bring in front of the voters in this election. I believe that once the documents are given up as illegitimate, the point that the documents were meant to prove will become jointly discredited in the minds of a great many of the voting public who may have otherwise been swayed by the information that suggested Bush’s dishonesty about his service. And, if a “DNC operative” connection can also be proven or made plausible, then the Kerry campaign takes an even bigger hit.
To what point does the future integrity of a Network News icon get put at risk in order to support a strongly-held belief that is being pushed by some power players within the organization? And what will the fallout have on the already sagging influence of Network media, as well as the Presidential campaign?
And at what point will the focus be put on issues that directly matter for this country’s future, rather than decades-old Guard service or Swift Boat activity and the validity of Purple Heart medals?