2005-01-11

As much as I have tried to leave it alone ...


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... I must comment on the CBS report, or rather on MSM's treatment of it.

I was certain the story would be big news. After all, it's a story about a major media outlet letting its political bias lead it into unprofessional and unethical behavior. It seemingly confirms the common rant regarding MSM and its bias. Surely they would be falling all over themselves to get the word out on this, as if to say, "we're not that way," or, "we've learned."

Instead: business as usual. I had an inkling of it as I was browsing through my aggregator late yesterday afternoon. The blogs (of varying political and philosophical persuasions) were, without exception, all over the report, many having already read generous portions of the 200-page document. Meanwhile, among my nine feeds from scattered newspapers, only two contained any mention, and even there coverage was scant.

It was this NPR headline,
"Report: Rather not Involved in Vetting Bush Story"
that led me to break my silence. Yes, this is factually correct. However, it is nowhere near a reasonable summary of the report as a whole, nor its treatment of Rather specifically.

While many are dissatisfied, holding that the report hedged on the issue of political bias, I believe Thornburgh and Boccardi were much harder on CBS and Rather than anyone expected. It was highly critical of Rather and everyone else involved. To issue a "Rather was clean" type headline ... well that's just Rather-esque.

"Rather wasn't involved in vetting," goes right up there with "no evidence that political bias played a role." How hard Thornburgh and Boccardi worked at connecting those dots, I don't know. What I do know is that it couldn't be more obvious that political bias not only played a role, but was most likely the prime mover in this episode. Likewise it couldn't be more obvious that a seasoned vet such as Rather is heavily involved in his stories.

I was tempted to add that had John Kerry been the target of the piece, Rather would most certainly have insisted on a thorough investigation of the documents. But I doubt that. He wouldn't have vetted the piece any more carefully than he did here. He would have killed it on sight.

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