Thursday, September 16, 2004

Fake But Accurate? That's how CBS is defending itself about its attack on Bush's National Guard duty. Despite being caught airing forged documents as fact and being accused of a partisan hackjob, Dan Rather and company refuse to admit that they screwed up.

Rather was quoted as saying about Bush, "We’ve heard what you have to say about the documents and what you’ve said and what your surrogates have said, but for the moment, answer the questions." In other words, Please disregard the fact that the documents are fabricated. You should be answering to the fabricated allegations in the fake documents.

Bush, of course, hasn't really said anything about the documents. Neither has Kerry. It's strange that the biggest campaign issue today really isn't involving either of the two candidates.

And they should stay out of it. CBS tried to dredge up an issue that has been put to rest many times already years ago. In their zeal, they failed as journalists.

The blogosphere has shown its worth by investigating the problems with the documents and disseminating the results rapidly. Eventually the mainstream media had to take notice. Now both conservative and liberal blogs concede that the memos are most likely fake.

I honestly didn't believe it would come to this. First, I thought this was more riffraff about Vietnam-era accusations and was a distraction from the real issues. When suspicions were first raised about he memos, I figured there had to be some explanation and that CBS wouldn't do anything so stupid as to go on the air with forgeries.

I was wrong. And now this is the biggest issue in the campaign. It's not the biggest issue in the election, mind you. We're still at war. But this mistake is huge. Bigger than Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass, this is the type of screw-up that ends people's careers.

Somebody forged documents implicating the President of the United States, and a major news network ran with the story less than two months before the Election Day. We need to investigate to find out who faked these memos, why that person did it, who else was helping him, how they did it, and why CBS didn't scrutinize them before presenting the documents as fact.

The major news media has taken a major hit with this scandal. And that's a good thing. The power of the blogosphere has shown that competition and self scrutinization can lead to better reporting and more factual coverage of the news.


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