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CBS and Rather Admit Mistakes in Bush Documents 335

Posted by pudge
from the oops dept.
Vexler writes "The word this afternoon from CBS regarding the authenticity of the national guard memos of President Bush is that they cannot be trusted, confirming what several document experts had already suggested. In Dan Rather apologized for a 'mistake in judgment.' I have to wonder though: What would be the price CBS (or CNN, during the 2000 presidential election in which the final tally from Florida was changed several times before they realized that a recount may be needed) would pay for 'mistakes' of this type? What are some of your thoughts regarding 'moderating' (think /.) a news agency when it admits that more than just an honest mistake has been committed in its reporting?" There is still one big question remaining unanswered, too: who forged the memos? Where did they come from? Burkett, the man who provided them to CBS, won't say where he got them.
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CBS and Rather Admit Mistakes in Bush Documents

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  • by tao_of_biology (666898) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .ygoloib.fo.oat.> on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:13PM (#10300228)
    Whilre sincerely trying to stay neutral here...

    So, who did this damage more? CBS aired their very-hyped 60 minutes episode that now seems to have totally and unfairly libeled Bush. The damage was done in peoples' minds immediately... and after the fact, 60 minutes and CBS and Dan Rather can come and say, "Whoops." Regardless of what you think about Bush, this isn't totally fair and I think he'd have a good case for libel, if he wasn't president. Shouldn't there be some other ramification other than loss of public trust?

    But, since the documents were so quickly shown to be BS (only the documents, the story might actually be true)... it seems to have really, really hurt the democrats and apparently back fired on the apparently-not-so-impartial Dan Rather. It makes the Democrats look like conspirators and more than a little slimy. That they're so worried that they'd need to plant false evidence smearing Bush. I'm not saying this is true, but it definitely could have that appearance to people.

    So, given the short attention spans of the public--who did this help or hurt the most? I think the argument could definitely be made both ways. And, I can definitely see motivation for both parties to manufacture these documents and hand them over to CBS... I mean, weren't they exposed a little TOO fast?

    • Please, stop. These forgeries were *so bad*, why would any Republicans have believed that CBS would not have caught them? Plus, CBS said their source (now revealed to be Burkett, a man who hates Bush and has advocated using dirty tricks against the Republicans) was very reluctant to turn these documents over to CBS, for a long time (apparently years). Saying this may have come from the GOP doesn't pass the smell test.
      • Please, stop. These forgeries were *so bad*, why would any Republicans have believed that CBS would not have caught them?

        Uh, yeah...that's the idea. The Republicans manufacture some patently obvious forgeries and let them "slip" into CBS's hands. Once they're proven to be fake, the Democrats get smeared. Nice tactic, eh?

        • I gotta agree with you. It's like saying in American football, "Let them score so we can get the ball back."
          • It's like saying in American football, "Let them score so we can get the ball back."

            Which happens, while not every game, more than once in a blue moon.

            Situations calling for giving the other team a quick score include, time is running out and a score seems imminent. Coaches decide to maximize time left when they get they get ball back rather than letting the other team run out the game clock. A more common example is giving the other team an intentional touchback. Giving the other team 2 points when

          • So, have you not seen the Kansas City Chiefs at all this year or last year?

        • Nice tactic, eh?

          If by "nice" you mean entirely implausible, then yes. Very nice.
        • Uh, yeah...that's the idea. The Republicans manufacture some patently obvious forgeries and let them "slip" into CBS's hands. Once they're proven to be fake, the Democrats get smeared. Nice tactic, eh?

          What are folk on here?

          One of the curious facts about the activities of the 111th keyboarders discussion of antique typewriters is that almost none of the points raised by 'experts' were valid. As I said at the time the series of claims about the capabilities of 1970s era typewriters fell apart, there was a

          • was a typewriter that could have produced the memo

            Can you name that typewriter?

            My understanding of the issue, after reading a lot on both sides, is that the forged memo contains both a superscript "th" and proportional spacing. The two IBM typewriters that were constantly batted about as possiblities were (IIRC) the Selectric and the Executive. The Selectric could do "th" with a removable type ball, but it could only do monospaced typing. The Executive could do proportional spacing, but it had a fixed
      • 60 Minutes didn't even think that telling us that Indian programmers are getting our jobs because they are *better* with their IIT degrees than we are with 10-20 years of experience was insulting. I think CBS can readily be dismissed as an actual news source- and was a long time ago by anybody watching these things. So no- I don't think whoever gave the documents to Burkett would have thought that their forgery would have been caught so quickly.

        If it was the Republicans, then not only does it not pass th
        • Rove is that smart and underhanded. There's plenty more where that came from - there's still a month and a half until the election, then several more until inauguration. And until CBS went after this story exposing Bush, there were lots more disgusting Rove operations that they never reported, so we never got to hear rightwingers chime in. It's a lot worse than it appears.
          • I hope so- if so, my new third party will have a cakewalk re-registering voters in 2007. That is- as long as there's still an election in 2008. But since we support *both* the IWW and the NRA, I don't think there will be much of a problem forcing our names onto the ballot if that's what it comes down to- a need for regime change in Washington.
    • In defense of the people who exposed them, I heard about the memos wednesday and saw them first thing thursday morning...the first thing *I* thought was "These don't look real", and went off to find what other people were saying. I'm no forensic/typographic/handwriting expert, but there's been such a flurry of military documentation released in the past year due to the Kerry/Bush "Where Were You When..." drama, I've seen enough of them to think these looked strange.

      Unfortunately, now that the monkey is of
    • "Regardless of what you think about Bush, this isn't totally fair and I think he'd have a good case for libel, if he wasn't president."

      Not really. IANAL, but I believe that to claim libel, they'd have to show that CBS knew the documents were forged, and did it specifically to harm Bush. Unless some internal memos or whistle-blowers show otherwise, there's plenty of reason to believe CBS was merely sloppy in their work, not dishonest.

      • by PatHMV (701344) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Monday September 20, 2004 @04:49PM (#10301324) Homepage
        IAAL, and I can tell you that, in a libel suit, President Bush would not have to prove that CBS "knew" that the documents were forged, but could simply prove that CBS published them "with reckless disregard" for the truth.

        We now find out that CBS, who previously had the utmost confidence in their source, did not even trouble to learn who actually provided them. They allowed Bill Burkett, who is not a reporter, to withhold the identity of his purported source for the documents. In other words, CBS published very damning documents without even knowing who had obtained the originals. A simple Google search on Bill Burkett would have revealed numerous detailed reports of his attacks on Governor and President Bush, and the subsequent undermining of his claims when subjected to scrutiny such as done by the Boston Globe.

        CBS knew or easily should have known that Burkett had a long-standing axe to grind with President Bush. They knew he was not the original source of the documents. They knew that he was not the original source for the documents, and had only his word, with no confirming details, that the documents came from a legitimate source. They knew that THEIR OWN DOCUMENT EXAMINERS warned them of problems with the documents, and the one expert they finally relied on vouched only for the signature, not the rest of the document, and specifically stated that it is impossible to fully authenticate a photocopy. To report on documents obtained by Burkett, trusting only his clearly biased word that the documents are authentic, showed, in my opinion, reckless disregard for the truth.

        Rather's and CBS's recklessness is further shown in their initial response to the immediate and substantive criticism of the documents. Instead of admitting that they really didn't know where the documents came from, or that the source was a known and persistent critic of the President, they accused their own critics of being partisan. They slapped up a typwritten document with a small "TH" on it as proof positive that typewriters back then could do superscripted "TH", despite very clear differences between that typewritten example and the forged documents.

        Did Dan Rather actually know that these documents were forged when he reported them? I doubt it. Did he show reckless disregard for that truth? I believe so, yes.

        To prevail in a libel lawsuit, President Bush would also have to show actual malice on the part of Dan Rather and CBS. Personally, I believe that the whole course of conduct showing Rather's and CBS's reckless disregard for the truth is itself evidence of malice. There is no other conceivable motive for their actions. I would be willing to bet quite a bit of money that they have rejected similar stories which portrayed Democrats negatively.

        Truly, if one of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had brought Dan Rather or his producer a set of documents looking exactly like this but supposedly from the "personal files" of one of Kerry's Vietnam commanders, claiming that Kerry did not deserve one of his medals, does anybody truly believe CBS would have run that story without a great deal more fact checking and certainty than they required here?
        • That's not at all what "reckless disregard" means. It means that you'd have to demonstrate that CBS News entertained serious doubts about the truthfulness of their story and that they went ahead with it anyway. Times v. Sullivan.

          In New York in particular, where any civil claim against CBS News would have to be heard, it's essentially impossible to demonstrate reckless disregard. You have to have some kind of documentary evidence that the possibility of falsehood was seriously entertained before putting th
          • by PatHMV (701344) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Monday September 20, 2004 @06:12PM (#10302272) Homepage
            In fact, I was slightly off in my recollection of New York Times v. Sullivan [findlaw.com], but not in the way you suggest. I said that the actual malice test was separate from the reckless disregard test. In fact it is not. Here's what the court said:
            The constitutional guarantees require, we think, a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made [376 U.S. 254, 280] with "actual malice" - that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
            Sullivan does not itself define reckless disregard. Its definition has been flushed out in several subsequent opinions of the court. Fundamentally, the court has said that it must ultimately come down to a case-by-case analysis. In St. Amant v. Thompson [findlaw.com], the Supreme Court in 1968 fleshed out what it meant by reckless disregard. The court stated:
            The defendant in a defamation action brought by a public official cannot, however, automatically insure a favorable verdict by testifying that he published with a belief that the statements were true. The finder of fact must determine whether the publication was indeed made in good faith. Professions of good faith will be unlikely to prove persuasive, for example, where a story is fabricated by the defendant, is the product of his imagination, or is based wholly on an unverified anonymous telephone call. Nor will they be likely to prevail when the publisher's allegations are so inherently improbable that only a reckless man would have put them in circulation.
            Likewise, recklessness may be found where there are obvious reasons to doubt the veracity of the informant or the accuracy of his reports.
            In Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts [findlaw.com], the Supreme Court found actual malice through reckless disregard because of a newspaper's extreme departure from the normal standards for investigation followed by responsible journalists:
            In short, the evidence is ample to support a finding of highly unreasonable conduct constituting an extreme departure from the standards of investigation and reporting ordinarily adhered to by responsible publishers.
            Now, was it really necessary to resort to infantile personal insult?
    • Good grief this is like saying who does the SCO lawsuit damage more Linux or SCO since they end up looking like raving loons?
      The press has said time and time again that they are the protectors of our freedom and that the problem with the Internet is that the press checks it's facts while on the Internet anyone can post anything.
      Who does this damage the most? The press. It is now clear that Dan Rather if not CBS is not the impartial defenders of the democratic process that they claim to be. They have there o
  • Vote Tabulation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:16PM (#10300278) Homepage Journal
    ...during the 2000 presidential election in which the final tally from Florida was changed several times before they realized that a recount may be needed.
    Does anyone else think that no counting of votes or reporting of results should occur until all polls in the nation have closed? Situations like the one in 2000 could be avoided, and voters in western states would not feel that their vote doesn't matter, since the results of the eastern states would not be public.
    • Re:Vote Tabulation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nharmon (97591)
      Does anyone else think that no counting of votes or reporting of results should occur until all polls in the nation have closed?

      I don't think people understood before the impact that preceding states have on states in later time zones. Hopefully recent electoral experiences will prompt states to delay election information.

      In fact, I'm not terribly happy with how news organizations treat election-day broadcasts. They seem to treat it the same as they would treat the final game in a Stanley Cup Series. As
    • While that is a more palatable solution, I'd prefer it if my State did not put the Names of the Candidates for President on the Ballot. We don't vote for them, we don't need the extra names cluttering up the ballot.
      • What state do you live in that you don't vote for in the Presidential election?
        • What state do you live in that you don't vote for in the Presidential election?

          Well, if the OP is in the US of A, it doesn't matter which state. None of the states have you voting for the President. You are voting for electors that represent your state and vote on the Monday following the second Wednesday of December.

  • Hindsight is 20/20 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by etymxris (121288) * on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:16PM (#10300283)
    Remember, the question to ask here is not, "Are the documents authentic?" but rather, "Was CBS justified in believing the documents to be authentic?" Of course, if they did not believe the documents to be authentic, but ran the story anyway, that would be even worse.

    The point is that there are always going to be mistakes made. Demanding 100% accuracy is unrealistic and does more harm than good. Mistakes are only blameworthy if they are caused by carelessness. Not to say that CBS is not blameworthy, but we should be sure to ask the right questions here.
    • "Was CBS justified in believing the documents to be authentic?"

      They were not. Note that CBS and Rather talk about mistakes in judgment. They know they got it wrong, and that they were to blame for getting it wrong.
    • by Otter (3800) on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:30PM (#10300473) Journal
      Before airing the story, they checked with (in the last version of the story, AFAIK) four forensic experts -- three of whom now claim to have warned them that the documents were fake.

      In any case, the real issue isn't the mistake, it's the cover-up. If they had retracted the story immediately, it would have been much more forgivable but there is simply no excuse for the way they stonewalled until it was clear that the problem wasn't going away. And the "apology" here doesn't address that issue at all.

    • by switcha (551514) on Monday September 20, 2004 @04:45PM (#10301255)
      Of course, if they did not believe the documents to be authentic, but ran the story anyway, that would be even worse.

      From ABCNEWS.com [go.com],

      Two of
      the document experts hired by CBS News now say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast of 60 Minutes II about the disputed National Guard records attributed to Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.

      Emily Will, a veteran document examiner from North Carolina, told ABC News she saw problems right away with the one document CBS hired her to check the weekend before the broadcast.

      "I found five significant differences in the questioned handwriting, and I found problems with the printing itself as to whether it could have been produced by a typewriter," she said.

      Will says she sent the CBS producer an e-mail message about her concerns and strongly urged the network the night before the broadcast not to use the documents.

      "I told them that all the questions I was asking them on Tuesday night, they were going to be asked by hundreds of other document examiners on Thursday if they ran that story," Will said.
      ...

      emphasis mine

      And keep reading the link for more who called 'shenanigans' before the piece went to air.

    • Rather was looking to bring down a President. He was warned by more than one person that the documents were trouble. Instead of following the well known mantra of the newsman he let his personal hate of all things Bush get in his way. Combined with MM who shares his views these documents were the best gift an old warhorse like Rather could want.

      Rather needs to be forcibly retired and M Mapes (?) needs to be reassigned. Both destroyed the credibility of 60 Minutes (as if had any - they are distortion ce
  • by nharmon (97591) on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:17PM (#10300294) Homepage
    Is it illegal to falsify government documents?

    If so, would Bill Burkett have to tell investigators where he obtained the documents?
    • IANAL, but I'm pretty sure it is illegal to falsify a government document. However, if Burkett himself made the documents, he would not be forced to admit it, as the fifth amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right against self-incrimination.
      • pleading the fifth doesn't necessarily mean burkett faked the documents himself though. he could have stolen them, illegally copied them or committed some other crime in the attainment.

        in fact, the fifth ammendment does not outline anything about what constitutes "incrimination". and, obviously, he can't be called upon to prove that he would self-incriminate by revealing his source. that defeats the purpose.

        of course the feds can always call for a grand jury [wikipedia.org] to look into it. then the fifth ammendment do

    • That one's been asked and answered. These documents are not in any way official, whether they're real or not. Since there was no intent to defraud, even signing a dead man's name is not illegal. At the very, very worst, CBS News might have committed libel, but the standard for libel is very strict, and such a claim probably would not hold up in court.
      • Since there was no intent to defraud[...].

        Actually, I would argue that fraud was the only intent. I mean, we're not talking about some stuff written on a napkin. We're talking about a document written to appear to be on official stationary, by a government official.

        Illegal or not, I don't see why a person should be allowed to make fake government documents, pass them as real ones, and not go to prison.
        • Actually, I would argue that fraud was the only intent.

          To defraud means to deprive somebody of money by lying.

          I don't see why a person should be allowed to make fake government documents

          These are not government documents. Even if they were real, they would not be official anything.
    • Is it illegal to falsify government documents?

      Yes. A number of "bloggers" who are also lawyers (which seems to be most of them) have looked into this idea. There are three different laws (AFIAK) that could apply.
      1. There is a Texas law regarding falsifying government records [bakers-legal-pages.com]. The fake TexANG letterhead on the forgeries qualifies these documents. Even if they were "private" memos they were the private memos of a National Guard officer in his capacity as such. One of them purports to be an official order
  • by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:20PM (#10300329)
    In libel and slander suits, law recognizes a difference between a daily newspaper and a magazine, which should have much more time to check facts. A newspaper, which has to be printed quickly and is literally keeping up with today's news does not always have time for in depth checking as a magazine.

    CNN, and other networks, on Election Night in 2000 were reporting live, real time events. It is very understandable why all the networks had trouble calling Florida's vote count.

    Dan Rather, on the other hand, had time to check, and didn't do his job. In one case, a source had been read the documents over the phone, but never told they were typewritten. There were also problems with the dates -- the memos involved people who were no longer in the Texas ANG. While there is a rush to get that kind of info out, Rather (who, I admit, I have never trusted or liked as a newscaster) seemed to live up to the image I developed of him in Journalism class when I read his autobiography (The Camera Never Blinks) -- he was more concerned with being the first, the most noticable, and the one with the biggest ego, instead of making sure he was reporting news.

    I don't think there's reason to penalize CNN and other networks for the gaffs in 2000, but Rather -- I hope this helps people finally see he operates on the same level Geraldo operated on when he did stunts like opening Al Capone's vault.

    I also think Rather owes a public apology to BOTH Bush and Kerry, since the memos slandered Bush, but also would have looked to many like Kerry was trying to slander Bush.

    BTW, even though I can forgive CNN for the mistakes in 2000, I still can't bring myself to call any station a news channel when they spend 8 hours a day for a year on the O.J. Simpson trial.
    • Rather, on the other hand, had time to check, and didn't do his job.

      I find the whole thing very amusing. Dan Rather did check, but he didnt test the papers for fraud. I expected Bush or the White house to come out with a better response than "They seem fake..." Like providing the real documents, nope....

      It's amusing, they tried to get Clinton on anything, finally after nothing worked, they investigated his sex life.

      But on the other hand.

      Bush's service records show gaps, people know he was an avid parti
  • My two questions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:20PM (#10300333) Journal
    1) These documents didn't appear in a vacuum. They came out in what was clearly a coordinated attack on Bush by CBS, the Boston Globe (who, with their NYT owners are getting off the hook way too easily on this) and the DNC. Now, I don't believe for a second that the Kerry campaign created these documents. But given how closely the campaign was tied to these documents, everyone involved really needs to explain where the forgeries came from. (And, no, there is no issue of protecting an anonymous source in a case like this.)

    2) The CBS "apology" might have been adequate a week and a half ago. But at this point, CBS has been stonewalling and hiding behind a constantly changing cast of "experts" way, way past the point where it was obvious that the documents were egregious fakes. (And ridiculing everyone who bothered to actually do some real fact-checking.) Are there going to be any further explanations or consequences? This is nowhere near enough.

    (By the way, given that this is going to turn out to be a watershed moment in Internet journalism, Slashdot has been curiously oblivious to its News For Nerds aspect.)
    • by kalidasa (577403) * on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:31PM (#10300482) Journal
      Don't forget that Karl Rove has been known to do things like bug his own office. The assumption that this was a coordinated attack on GWB is just that, an assumption based upon the (perfectly legitimate anywhere except in politics, where this sort of thing usually ends up favoring the target) logic that GWB's campaign wouldn't forge documents that make them look bad. Do I think there are people on the left capable of doing something like this? Sure. But don't assume that just because the obvious benefit (if the documents hadn't been all but proven to be forgeries) would have redounded to Kerry means folks with Kerry's best interests at heart forged them.
      • The assumption that this was a coordinated attack on GWB is just that, an assumption based upon the (perfectly legitimate anywhere except in politics, where this sort of thing usually ends up favoring the target) logic that GWB's campaign wouldn't forge documents that make them look bad.

        You and shaka999 are both reading way too much into "coordinated attack". The Kerry campaign launched this "Fortunate Son" offensive, complete with theme, theme song and an elaborate video at the same time that CBS and the

        • No, Otter, I'm not reading too much into "coordinated attack." "Coordinated attack" does not mean "the DNC coordinated the leaks on this and CBS and the Boston Globe just jumped on the story without doing proper fact checking" if that's what you meant. The way you used "coordinated attack" suggests that the editors of Globe, the DNC, and CBS sat down and coordinated an attack, and I don't think even you believe that.

          As for Karl Rove - look, I'm not saying that he DID do it, I'm just saying that past hist

      • KARL: George, now that we finally pulled ahead of Kerry in the polls, and your re-election is all but guaranteed, I have a plan that will guarantee your win.

        GEORGE: Interesting. Normally, the front-runner tries to keep a low profile and a tame campaign. But since I am a stupid idiot and you are the great master mind of my entire political career, I'll hear you out.

        KARL: See these documents I wrote in Word? They make the claims that the crazy crackpot democrats, including John Kerry, have been making for t
    • by shaka999 (335100)
      Why exactly do you believe CBS and/or the Boston Globe were in on a coordinated attack? A much more likely situation is that someone was out to get Bush and CBS/Globe jumped on the story in the age old journalistic tradition.

      This is just going to feed the Right Wing's crap about the liberal press.

      2) Here I agree. CBS took way to long to admit a mistake. Furthermore, some of the items brought up to prove these documents were fakes were so obvious I have to seriously question how well the researched them
    • These documents didn't appear in a vacuum. They came out in what was clearly a coordinated attack on Bush by CBS, the Boston Globe (who, with their NYT owners are getting off the hook way too easily on this) and the DNC.

      How is it a "clearly coordinated attack"? Just because they all said negative things about Bush at the same time? Of course the DNC is attacking Bush! It's a Presidential election year!

      The CBS "apology" might have been adequate a week and a half ago. But at this point, CBS has been s
  • Lawsuit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c.ecker (812382) on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:23PM (#10300381)
    This is the we're sorry ploy. Notice they didn't retract the story -- just retracted the authenticity of the memos. They're trying to mitigate possibility of a lawsuit with more fictional reporting ...

    If GW was a citizen rather than The President, he'd have a slam-dunk slander case. CBS did not follow due diligence in determining the authenticity of the memos. It really looks like CBS was shopping for the verification they wanted, in order to be able to air the memos even though they knew they were fakes. They even went so far as to call a preliminary opinion of the documents (collectively, not just the 4 memos) their authentication.

    If it can be proven that CBS intentionally ran the story with fake documents, its just a short step further to the jackpot slander verdict ...

    Watch how they CYA with their 'follow-up' 'report' on how the documents were authenticated ... more bogus reporting by CBS and company ...
    • Re:Lawsuit (Score:3, Insightful)

      Notice they didn't retract the story -- just retracted the authenticity of the memos.

      Um. No.

      I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where--if I knew then what I know now--

      I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

      That's a retraction.

      • You have misstated the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions on libel and slander of public figures. A news program can be held liable for libel or slander of a public figure if 1) the story is in fact false and (2) the news program acts with actual malice, which is defined as "knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." New York Times v. Sullivan [findlaw.com]

        In subsequent decisions, the Court has interpreted "reckless disregard" to include the following:

        The defendant in a defamat

      • Re:Lawsuit (Score:3, Insightful)

        Read the second half of the sentence you put in bold ...as it was aired. He would still have aired the story, he just would have told it differently, still plenty of room in that statement for the "fake, but accurate" line Rather has taken in recent days.

        It doesn't bother me so much that CBS was duped, but that they were so EAGER to be duped. The appearance of the documents raises red flags. The "unimpeachable" source is anything but (a very partisan Democrat with a personal animus towards Bush and toward
  • by trentfoley (226635) on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:30PM (#10300478) Homepage Journal
    The Bush administration created these documents!

    They heard that CBS was investigating the story and they immediately went in to damage control. The documents were clandestinely delivered to Kerry supporters so that they would then be given to CBS. They were made to be so juicy that CBS wouldn't be able to see through all of the drool that they were obvious forgeries.

    The Bush family has a history in the intelligence business. I wouldn't put this past them.

    Sure, the documents are forgeries, but is the story true or false? As it stands now, the story is in a quantum state, awaiting the collapse of a wave function.

    I agree with another poster, "Kodos 2004"
    • The 'wave function' is leaning to the story being true simply because bush has made no effort to refute them.
      • The 'wave function' is leaning to the story being true simply because bush has made no effort to refute them.

        Yes. And if you refuse to let the nice officer search your car, you must be smuggling drugs. Oh, and if you plead the 5th on the witness stand, you must be guilty of the crime your accused of. And while you're at it, let's ask George W. a simple yes or no question: "Have you stopped beating your wife?" We'll know the answer is "no" if he doesn't want to answer that one.

    • Sure, the documents are forgeries, but is the story true or false?

      Okay, that's about the stupidest comment ever.

      The story is, "These memos show that Bush blah blah something bad blah blah."

      The memos are forgeries.

      The story, therefore, is automatically false.

      Use your brain for a minute, huh?
    • The Bush family has a history in the intelligence business. I wouldn't put this past them.

      Don't you suppose they'd have done a better job with the forgeries then.

      All of this "Bush/Rove planted the forgeries" stuff depends upon CBS or the DNC or whoever believing the documents are real and that the source of the documents isn't trying to fool them.

      Who would you rather be - Kerry or Bush if it's disclosed that one of your people made the forgeries?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2004 @03:31PM (#10300481)
    It said, "No more nails please."
  • So, because these documents were forged, it means George W. Bush honorably and fully completed his commitment to the National Guard, right?

    Of course not. But, as is the custom with our current administration, the most effective way to suppress the message is to conduct a smear campaign against the messenger.

    Such is the cult of personality surrounding George W. Bush: Because Bush cannot be flawed in any way, those that suspect he is must be destroyed. (I'm thinking of Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, Dan Ra
    • So, because these documents were forged, it means George W. Bush honorably and fully completed his commitment to the National Guard, right?

      Well, actually ...yeah. Given that the only documentary evidence of misconduct that anybody has ever been able to cough up has turned out to be forged, yes, this basically means that the "Bush went AWOL" non-story can finally be put to bed once and for all.

      There are idiots out there who will fight to keep it alive, of course, but there are people who insist we never l
      • Well, actually ...yeah. Given that the only documentary evidence of misconduct that anybody has ever been able to cough up has turned out to be forged, yes, this basically means that the "Bush went AWOL" non-story can finally be put to bed once and for all.

        Uhh, no, illogical conclusion. Absence of evidence is not evidence of non-absence :-)

        There are idiots out there who will fight to keep it alive, of course, but there are people who insist we never landed on the moon, either.

        Poisoning the wel

        • Absence of evidence is not evidence of non-absence

          It most certainly is when you're talking about things like military service where dereliction of duty is documented. If (1) George W. Bush failed to carry out his assigned duties, and (2) no documentation to that effect can be produced, you have to conclude that (3) a ridiculously complex plot was carried out inside an Air Force warehouse in St. Louis involving the meticulous scouring of thirty-year-old records. That's a silly conclusion, so one of the two
      • My god. This comment is enough to bring me out of a nearly year-long hiatus from posting to /..

        Of course there is other evidence. Try this [archive.org]. In fact, there is no evidence to support that Bush was not AWOL. In this case, since the military should have been keeping meticulous records, it is a reasonable conclusion that Bush was AWOL in lieu of any credible evidence to suggest that he did in fact show up for his duty at wartime.

        By your idea of "logic," because there is no document saying there is not an inv

        • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Monday September 20, 2004 @06:00PM (#10302145)
          Try this.

          A Boston Globe story? You've got a lot of balls posting that link in here.

          In fact, there is no evidence to support that Bush was not AWOL.

          Except, you know, for the fact that he was honorably discharged, not an honor conferred upon them what don't show up. And the public record of Bush's attendance. And the expert opinion of Lt. Col. Lloyd given upon examining the records. And the dental check-up that you guys love to forget about.

          Except for all that evidence, there's no evidence at all.

          Hell, even CBS News admits that ample evidence of the president's honorable service exists.

          Here, we have evidence to specifically incriminate him, and none to save him.

          Oooh, one quote taken out of context and misrepresented. (He was talking about an event that happened in the winter of 1968, dumbass.)

          You baffle me. "There's no evidence at all! Except for all that evidence, which doesn't count because the Boston Globe which never, ever lies told me so!"

          Loser.
        • "And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for: For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen."

          I rest my case...

          Hmmm... I find your case lacking. "..all but unaccounted for.." isn't quite the same as unaccounted for. If you read these lines carefully, it's clear that the writer is trying to lead you to believe that there are records of him being AWOL, when, in fact, the problem is that we don't have good records.

          From all the

      • No, you're wrong. Lots of evidence [glcq.com] exists that he didn't complete his commitments, and that he tried to scam the Texas ANG into letting him out of his service requirements.

        Again, these memos were forged, and bad CBS for airing them. But:

        1) The secretary that would have typed these memos said there were memos that were substantially the same as these that she did type. So, where are these memos? Were they, perhaps, destroyed? If so, who destroyed them?
        2) This is not the only evidence that he didn't complet
    • Actually, Bush has admitted that he is flawed and succummed to drug and alcohol use earlier in his life. For some reason you think he would admit to this but not to something as common place as getting into the national guard becuase of his parent's connections.
    • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Monday September 20, 2004 @04:52PM (#10301356) Homepage Journal
      You know, it's ironic that everyone is saying to just move on and get past the circumstances surrounding Kerry's Purple Hearts and Silver Star, because according to the military, he earned them and deserved them, and yet the DNC is beating up on Bush even though he received an honorable discharge, in other words, according to the military, he did his job.

      How is that the military's word is good enough for one candidate and not the other. I would love to see one campaign where a double standard isn't so blatantly applied by either side. As it is, I need to keep duct tape wrapped around my head to keep it from exploding.

      Here's an idea: Let's give Kerry credit for serving bravely and honorably and let's give Bush credit for serving, even if it wasn't in combat.

      Here's the real question: Who's going to keep the Islamofascist nutjobs from blowing me up?!

      I still can't see what tortured logic you are applying to blame this issue on the Republicans. Dan Rather destroyed himself (and he's been doing it for years). I didn't give him any credibility before all this happened. You ever hear the nickname "Red" Dan Rather? It's been around for years, even decades.

      Courage, indeed. CBS has gotten to the point where they can't even pretend to be objective. I'd trust the National Enquirer before those clowns.

  • by AnwerB (255422) on Monday September 20, 2004 @04:13PM (#10300945)
    What are some of your thoughts regarding 'moderating' (think /.) a news agency when it admits that more than just an honest mistake has been committed in its reporting?

    The fact that a station actually admits that they made a mistake is to its credit.

    I'm sure that there are news stations that misreport without ever clearing up any mistakes they may have made.

    Anyway, firstly, if you wanted to censure news stations for obvious bias, there would probably not be any US-based channels on the air. I personally prefer news from Reuters and the BBC, but I'm sure someone will believe them to be pinko-commie-sympathizing liberals (or neo-Nazi facists, depending on your view of the news being reported).

    Secondly, I think that allowing people to moderate news will result in continuous 24 hour coverage of sports and models, since that's probably what most people would like to see instead of depressing world news and politics.
    • The whole problem here is that the potential moderators don't have enough evidence or knowledge to accurately moderate the news. Look, I know from my mods that most of the time when I make a political comment, if the mods reflect the repllies, that liberals mod me up and conservatives mod me down - regardless of whether or not they know that what I'm saying is true. There are some exceptions - mostly conservatives who respond politely or constructively or at least logically and rationally, and who I assume
  • by Rie Beam (632299)
    So this is what it's come to? I'm stuck voting for the people who lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top, or people who lie, cheat, and steal to make the others look bad. Meh...

    **waves flag, promptly burns it**

    I hear Canada is nice this time of year...
  • CBS, like the rest of the corporate media, gets too much credit for telling the truth, when they make "mistakes" all the time. Too systematic and consistent for mere "mistakes", unless you're some kind of coincidence theorist. These untested forgeries should innoculate Americans against some of the propaganda. However, the fact is that the information is accurate, according to the secretary who denied the authenticity of the actual documents. So President Bush Jr is lying about his free pass out of Vietnam
  • Nothing (Score:5, Informative)

    by xpccx (247431) on Monday September 20, 2004 @06:46PM (#10302562)
    I think the lawsuit against Fox [foxbghsuit.com] over bovine growth hormone proves that this will cost them nothing. From what I gather, Fox reporters were pressured by Fox executives to alter their news story in order to paint a prettier picture about the effects of BGH. When the reporters didn't change the story they were fired. A lawsuit insued and Fox has won on appeal because, get this, the FCC doesn't require news agencies to tell the truth.

    So, whether this was done on purpose or accidentally, from a legal perspective it matters little.

  • by code_rage (130128) on Monday September 20, 2004 @09:55PM (#10304354)
    You would think after the fiasco about media credulity of Iraq WMDs, the media would be more suspicious of this sort of thing. In both cases, evidence was uncritically accepted because it fit with a preconceived notion of the facts.

    We knew Saddam had developed and used WMDs in the past, we knew that Saddam had disobeyed UN resolutions in the past, we knew that Saddam had cheated on international weapons inspections in the past. Why wouldn't he have WMDs? When evidence was presented, everyone was ready to accept it. Even the Joe Wilson story (Niger yellowcake) didn't keep people from accepting the worst case scenario.

    Similar thing with the Bush National Guard records. We know that Bush jumped to the head of the applicant list through the good ol' boy network. We know that he did not perform the duties he signed contracts for.

    There was nothing in the content of the forged memos that raised suspicion -- instead it was abbreviations and typography that gave it away. Interestingly, the same was true of the Niger yellowcake documents -- one of the big giveaways was that the names of govt officials were not contemporary with the dates on the documents.

    Even old pros like Rather need to learn: just because evidence seems to fit does not make it true.

  • by quarrelinastraw (771952) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:03AM (#10308475)

    In this whole situation is the independent media. I can't see anything that CBS has done wrong from a purely journalistic point of view. They made a mistake believing Burkett, but news organizations make retraction more often than would be believed. The onus is not on the organization to report ONLY the truth, but to do vigorous fact checking, investigate itself internally, and apologize when mistakes are made. I think CBS has done that, even in the face of a bullying conservative media that I imagine would have forced the Washington Post to retract Watergate had they been as strong then. I believe that CBS checked its facts in earnest and made a mistake. But that is different entirely than broadcasting known lies (as Fox is known to do) or not having a fact-checking organization at all, like all bloggers.

    The "documents are faked" cry came from conservative bloggers. Then people started wondering whether typewriters can make superscripts (they can) and a handfull of the document inspector panel said they didn't approve the documents. Of course, that's why there is a panel of experts, and not just one expert. Anytime there are documents, I imagine a few experts disagree, and they go with the weight of the panel. There is nothing particularly insidious about inspecting your documents and following expert opinion.

    But the initial Bush response was not to deny the veracity of the claims. In fact, they didn't claim the documents were forged until the conservative bloggers had pushed the story into the media, which indicates at least partially that they were unsure. If they were unsure, there's a pretty good reason to believe that the allegations alleged MIGHT have some merit. Moreover, the Bush response was to say "these guys are just repeating old allegations," in other words, everybody already knows that Bush got it easy during Vietnam. To change from that to "CBS intentionally forged documents to hurt the president" is frankly absurd and intellectually dishonest.

    CBS is NOT a partisan company. They make every effort to be neutral with respect to politics, so if CBS comes out tarnished as a Bush-hating medium by the conservative pundits, that will be a sad day indeed. The original post mentions the 2000 election call, which it may be recalled was originally made by Bush's cousin at Fox News. The absolute last thing we need is for more people to believe the "Rathergate" hype and to fall into the "liberal media bias" mythology.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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