Monday, November 17, 2008

Rather interesting

Dan Rather is going ahead with his very expensive lawsuit against CBS, his former employer. Rather claims that CBS ran a politically biased investigation into his airing of the famed/infamous story involving the questioned Texas Air National Guard documents. Here's the truly interesting revelation:
Another memorandum turned over to Mr. Rather’s lawyers by CBS was a long typed list of conservative commentators apparently receiving some preliminary consideration as panel members, including Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan. At the bottom of that list, someone had scribbled “Roger Ailes,” the founder of Fox News.
Roger Ailes? Why would CBS ask help from FOX?

Arguably, Drudge helped create the environment that allowed the TANG story to hit the air prematurely. Years earlier, Drudge hit pay dirt when he ran the Lewenski story at a time when no-one else would touch it. This episode arguably caused other newsfolk to rethink, and to loosen, their standards. Since then, Drudge has -- with impunity -- published a fair amount of crap, including the "Kerry and the intern" tale which helped give birth to this humble blog.

I took some interest in the document controversy; see, for example, here and here. The mystery of the documents was never fully resolved, although I remain convinced that the things were not created on Microsoft Word, as the rightists believed. Alas, back when I addressed the issue, blogger did not make it easy to publish images, so I could not present illustrations to buttress my argument. (Skimming those old pieces reminded me of the days when the hate-spewers inhabited the political right, not the left.)

One question still haunts. If, as many right-wingers alleged, the docs were forged by Rather's source, Bill Burkett -- then why was Burkett not prosecuted?


OTE admin said...

As somebody old enough to have worked in clerical work for YEARS, let alone have worked using IBM Selectric typewriters, I knew right off the bat those documents were genuine, and they were probably typed by Killian himself, given the unprofessional look of them.

The rightwingers lied their butts off about the memos; there is NO way they could have EVER been done on a computer. But they decided they had to protect Bush any way they could using bogus talking points. And they were successful. I hope Dan Rather wins big.

Anonymous said...

One question still haunts. If, as many right-wingers alleged, the docs were forged by Rather's source, Bill Burkett -- then why was Burkett not prosecuted?

I'm neutral, to leaning toward the side that the Rather docs were legit.

However, if Burkett were the provider/forger of these documents, just because somebody is the only suspect named by (non-law enforcement) third parties doesn't provide probable cause for prosecution. Even when you are announced as THE PERSON OF INTEREST by THE AUTHORITIES (Dr. Hatfill, e.g.), it doesn't get you indicted, necessarily.

Any manner of guilty parties don't get indicted, and sometimes, innocent parties get indicted, for a variety of reasons.

So, guessing, either the prosecutor with jurisdiction decided there wasn't enough evidence to prove guilt to the jury standard, or it may not have even been a crime, exactly.


Anonymous said...

There is plenty of evidence and testimony that the information in the documents is genuine, but the documents were retyped on a machine that the rightists could impugn. A very clever trick: Re-type the genuine documents on a newer machine, then run to the conservative media with the scoop that the damaging documents that were handed to Rather are "fake."

OTE admin said...

Sorry, it's highly doubtful the documents were "retyped." They are very unprofessional looking, like Killian himself hunted and pecked the keys. The Bush mob went the "forgery" route in order to throw CBS off the trail and succeeded. Don't fall for it. After all, the "committee" "Investigating" the story for CBS didn't even address the authenticity issue. Which leads to the question of why there was an investigation in the first place.

Bob Harrison said...

Guys, whilst I was serving Uncle Sugar as a lowly enlisted grunt, I had occasion to type many, many documents. Why? Because I knew where the keyboard was and how to hit the return key. I didn't know how to touch type and I'm sure my documents don't look "professional" whatever the Hell that might mean in the military in a war-time environment. Oh and btw I later used an IBM looking Selectric called a Composer (if I remember all this correctly) and its big claim to fame was a proportional font, which again, if memory serves, was what the Forces of Evil Bush were complaining about.

Anonymous said...

My contention remains that the second-hand documents given to Rather were supposed to look unprofessional, so when they were made public, the conservastive media could unleash their ready-and-waiting experts on early '70s Selectrics to call them fake--and thus dismiss the very real information that was in the original versions. It's a very Rovian tactic. You know your candidate is about to be embarrassed, so you re-package the embarrassing info in a dubious wrapper that will become the focus of attention.

Linda in California said...

I do public records research for TV stations. CBS News would never accept a document like that from me.

This is a document that originated from a unsubstantiated source that could not be verified by a separate source. It was not from a public domain of official records.

What were they thinking?

They were "hot" for the story and their logic melted away.