ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, March 04, 2005

Rather answers tough questions

From Media Research Center's March 4th CyberAlert - transcribed appearance of Dan Rather on David Letterman's Late Show. I saw this and recognized that this deserved a comprehensive fisking... In an effort to perhaps bring Dan back to reality. If only Dan would appear on a real forum and answer real questions. Nope - I'll go on Late Night!

(Invaluable service that the MRC does, btw... Kudos to L. Brent Bozell!)

Letterman: "Now, some time before the election on, I believe it was 60 Minutes Wednesday, is what it's called now, there was the report that CBS had in their hands documents, some sort of affidavits that indicated that during his service in the National Guard, George Bush was given preferential treatment. Is that so far what happened?"

Rather: "That's true. And we had other people, including the one-time Speaker of the Texas house saying that he intervened to get special treatment, but basically that's true."
Speaker of the Texas house = Ben Barnes, Dem "partisan" (as Dan would say) and campaign fundraiser for John F. Kerry.

Strike ONE, Dan fails to question the credibility of this source, nor does he identify by name the person that is corroborating the story - Journalism 101, Dan.
Letterman: "Yeah, now, just taking that story in and of itself, would
that have been a damaging story? Was it a damaging story? Is it, I mean,
would it have caused people to change their votes? How big a story would
that have been if, in fact, it had been verified?"

Rather: "I don't know because we never reached that point. We put it on the air with what we thought was credibility. We had things besides the documents, but for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly, the focus became the documents.
Strike TWO: Dan, you had other things besides the documents, but they had less credibility than forged documents. The wife/son of the colonel said that it didn't match his thoughts. You had to interview his secretary and she agreed that the docs look like forgeries and that the colonel wouldn't have typed anything himself. Other than information from democratic partisan political operatives out of Austin (where you daughter just happens to be a partisan political operative in the Democratic party...) you had zip, zero, nada.. nothing new to offer.
We were not able to authenticate the documents as thoroughly as I think we should have. Given a little more time, perhaps we could have.
Dan: Bill Burkett told me they were genuine and if a frog had sidepockets he'd wear a handgun. You ignored opinions of authenticators and then tried to present them on air as authenticating something which they had serious questions about.

Strike THREE (you should be fired after 3 strikes, Dan... but CBS didn't yank you at this point for some reason)
My experience with elections is no one thing turns events around. I think that in this case, in this particular election, whatever was going to happen, let me say, below the surface, that the American people were going to be very reluctant to turn out a President as Commander-in-Chief in wartime until and unless it was demonstrated to them that the war was unwinnable, which was not the case. So, bottom line is, I think that George Bush was destined to be re-elected pretty much whatever happened in August and September."
Dan: Although I sure tried hard to turn that mutha out. And besides, Kerry really needed some help with those partisan Swift Boat Vets for Truth or whatever those fascists called themselves. I mean, sure they had some Dems... ans SURE they had a guy from Kerry's boat, but they HAD to be lying because they were questioning a Democrat. So, we at CBS thought... well, what the heck? Let's see if we can resurrect this story about TANG. Let's get Burkett on the line! Oh, and give a heads up to Joe Lockhart... I know he's part of the Kerry campaign, but I'm sure there isn't anything unethical about that... you know... coordinating the message and all... It's just a friendly phone call!

Strike FOUR
Letterman: "But regarding that particular story, it was you and everybody else at CBS News felt that it was important to get that story on the air, right?"

Rather: "We did."
Dan: DAMNIT, DAVE! The Future of the Republic rested in my hands! This TANG story HAD to get OUT, regardless of its authenticity!
Letterman: "Yeah. But isn't it true that in all walks of life some people are going to, I mean, in college, for example, I was given passing grades that I could never have driven to, you know what I'm saying?"

Rather: "I do. I made some of those grades."

Letterman: "That's preferential treatment. And if somebody wanted to do a story about that, okay, you know, I guess that did happen. So I'm trying to separate the two events. How big a story would that have been, and you're saying probably not to the extent of affecting the election. Now, the credibility, the veracity of the documents comes into question and then what happens?"

Rather: "Well, a panel was appointed by CBS News to look into this-"

Letterman: "An independent panel?"

Rather: "An independent panel."
Well, I think the panel is a bunch of partisan political operatives, but anyone who doesn't have a D after their name or who doesn't vote for progressive thought in America is clearly a fascist... you know what I mean, Dave? I mean, you know how important it is to help the poor as you drive past them in your limo on your way up to Connecticut each night, right? We're FOR THE PEOPE for Christ Sakes!
Letterman: "Is this a big thing for a network news organization to have endured?"

Rather: "I think the answer to that is yes, yes. And Richard Thornburgh, former attorney general who was in the Nixon administration, says the Bushes are good friends of his, both President one and two Bush. He headed the panel. They took the better part of four months, they spent several million dollars, some people say as much as $5 million, and came out with a report which I've read, thought about, absorbed it, take it seriously, move on and carry it with me into my work. Among the things, they concluded a lot of things, and many of them not complementary about our work. They concluded that whatever happened, whatever you thought about it, it was not motivated by political bias, and they said that, although they had four months and millions of dollars, they could not demonstrate that the documents were not authentic, that they were forgeries. They said they couldn't make that conclusion.
Perhaps they just needed to get out of their suits and ties, put on some pajamas and get the @#$K out of Black Rock to figure out whether they're real. Try to find Lucy Ramirez. Interview Burkett for more than 30 minutes and grill him on where he got them. They probably could've saved, ohhh.... 4.5 Millino dollars if they would have just listened to their document authenticators on the original story (instead of Democratic partisan political operatives), visited a website or two (such as Little Green Footballs),, , etc.

They also encouraged CBS News to rededicate itself to aggressive investigative reporting when warranted and not let this discourage them from doing so. That's a summary, it's a short summary. This panel report is big enough, you know, if you want to read it, it's, I don't know, is big enough to make a door stop."
If CBS is rededicating itself to aggressive, investigative reporting, I guess that DOES mean that you'll be out on your keister, Dan. Perhaps the doorstop is to keep the door from hitting your @ss on your way out?
Letterman: "I need a door stop. So let me go back to these two points. They said, one, that it was not motivated by political bias?"

Rather: "That's right."

Letterman: "So CBS News and yourself and others cleared of that, and that seemed to be a great point of criticism, did it not, that there was political bias here, that-"

Rather: "Well, there were people with their own political motivations and agendas, and some people who didn't have that, who were asking the question. That's one reason the panel was appointed. That was one of their conclusions."

Letterman: "But that charge has been erased by the committee, the fact-finding committee?"

Rather: "That was their conclusion."

Letterman: "That did not exist. That evaporated. And secondly, they could not prove that the documents were false. They could not prove that they were true and accurate, but they also could not prove that they were false."

Rather: "That's correct."
Welcome to my magical land of make believe, Dave. Pretty warm and friendly in here. Nevermind the 800 pound gorilla in the corner... it's NOT THERE! I realize that guy over there in the pajamas keeps screaming that it's there, but he's a partisan political operative, so ANYTHING he says is a lie. BTW, have you met Senator Kerry? Fine fellow! Tried to help elect him as President in the last go round. Public just didn't respond to him for some reason... *sigh*
Letterman: "So that's a push right there."

Rather: "Well, some people would not regard it, but you've summarized it correctly. They had a lot of other findings, but those were among the findings."

Letterman seem befuddled: "So with that in mind, and it seems to me like those were certainly the fire points of this investigation, why then were there people let go? Why was it recommended that people be fired?"

Rather: "Well, because Les Moonves, who heads CBS, read the panel report. He had some tough decisions to make. And he said that it was his conclusion that on the basis of the panel's report and finding that four people, and I hope it won't be lost sight of that these are four people who worked hard for CBS News and Les Moonves acknowledged that, and in some cases they helped us break one of the most important stories in
recent years, the Abu Ghraib story, but it was his judgment that he needed to do this for the good of the organization, for the good of CBS News, and that's a decision he made."

Letterman: "But I still don't understand, if the committee investigating this cleared people of the most weighty issues, the political motivation did not exist and the fact that we couldn't determine that these documents were fraud, why did anybody have to lose a job? Why isn't this just, as they say in racing, just one of them racing deals?"
Ummm, Dave? I realize I'm saying these things... giving you the corporate line and all, but perhaps you should consider the fact that the report is BS and that CBS and Les Moonves recognize it as such. They know that this WAS partisan, that it's not JUST "partisan political operatives" that think these docs are forgeries, but everyone who doesn't get a paycheck with Viacom/CBS written on it. Maybe... JUST MAYBE... that has something to do with it.

[audience laughter]

Rather: "The committee didn't say it was just one of those racing deals. Well, first of all, we've summarized the committee findings and summarized what I think are some of the most important, but the panel was critical, in some cases very critical, of the way the story was handled. But again, Les Moonves had some difficult decisions to make. He read the report, thought about it. He had it well ahead of time, he had it a week or eight days ahead of time, thought about it. And, you know, he had difficult decisions to make, and he made them, gave his reasons for making them. You come back to it, well, you know, since these were two of the most important findings, I think the best answer, I'm not answering for Les Moonves, you have that close endearing relationship with him.

[Letterman laughs]

Some of the rest of us are somewhat more removed. That there were other findings of the committee, of the panel on which Les just looked at it and said I think I need to make this move."
Dan: I just read the teleprompter, man... leave me alone!

Letterman: "Did you agree with his decisions for the dismissals?"

Rather: "Whether I agree with it or not doesn't matter. It was his decision to make. He made 'em. I respect that he had some tough choices to make. And that's where I have to leave it."

Letterman: "Were you sorry that these people were let go or did leave? I guess some quit, some were let go, right?"

Rather: "There were four, and three were asked to resign and one was let go at the end of her contract. The fact that a process, perhaps a necessary process resulted in four friends, colleagues, people who give in good work had to be let go is never very far from my mind."
Dan: Because, although I wasn't fired or asked to resign, I have a feeling that I'll be moved to a cubbie position within the organization very shortly. So, these ppl getting fired is certiainly on my mind....
Letterman: "And in a situation like this, it was so public, right or wrong, left or right, people early on make up their minds about it, such a high-profile story and such a great journalistic institution, should the President of CBS News have stepped down? Should he have stepped forward and taken the bullet and stepped down?"

Rather: "He's on vacation right now, but when he gets back, you can ask him."
Dan: Whew! For a second there, I thought you were going to ask me if I thought I should've been fired... Not sure how I would've answered that one. Perhaps with one of my witty and incomprehensible Texas sayings.

[audience laughter]
Letterman: "Do you think that all of this has been handled fairly? Do you think it was too much about something that was later disproved or that evaporated? Or how do you feel about the proceedings after the fact?"

Rather: "Dave, this is exactly how I feel: It's behind us. We have to look forward. At some point, you know, you've had ups and downs in your career. You had criticisms. Sometimes you think it's justified and sometimes not. But at a certain point you have to say, the committee, the panel has spoken. The corporate leadership has spoken. This is how it is. Put a period. I take it with me and let's go forward in the work. That's exactly how I feel about it."
Dan: Dave, I was caught red-handed. Now, I DO have this ridiculous report which doesn't pass the smell test that I can hold up, saying that this wasn't about political bias or that the docs can't be proven to be fakes, but... come on.... everyone outside of MoveOn.Org and CBS knows that we're a bunch of partisan hacks who salivated over Burkett.

Letterman: "I mean, if you take a look at the New York Times, a few years ago and for quite a lengthy period of time, it looked like that newspaper was falling apart. All they had left was the classifieds pretty much. [audience laughter] I mean, it was one
thing after another, guys making up stories and phony headlines and on and on and on, but yet still I think it's regarded as the finest newspaper in the country. So you do, you have to accept and make changes and continue and that's what you and the network are doing."
at least, those at MoveOn.Org feel it's the finest newspaper in the country. (If Dave thinks that the NYTimes have corrected their mistakes, he's either a fool or a liar.) And this is coming from a FAN of Dave's... a fan of the wrestling-shoes-dave.
Rather: "I agree with that completely, but I would want to point out something that is unquestionably true, and that is in the case of the Times, somebody, a particular somebody, had lied for a very long time, and it lasted over a long period of time. In the case, whatever one thinks of what we did or didn't do with the story in question here, nobody broke the law, nobody lied. Depending on your point of view, it was a mistake, and who hasn't made a mistake somewhere along the line? So there's that difference. But I think the Times handled their situation very well, and I agree with you that they're probably the world's greatest newspaper."
no one broke the law? How about forging government documents to affect the result of our democractic process? See Scylla & Charybdis for more info on what laws were broken.

STRIKE NINE!!! Nine instances where you fail to graps reality, report the facts, and show that you're IQ is anywhere above room temperature (which I understand is a pretty low bar in the Ed Sullivan theater). Your thoughts on this matter haven't changed since you aired the piece. You continue to obfuscate, obstruct, and place blame on others within CBS and outside of the network. If I were the head of Viacom, you'd have a nice little pink slip in your hand right now. You're doing more damage to the network and we can't find a job for you anymore.





Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler