Friday, September 10, 2004

From the Horse's Mouth

From this morning's Bleat:

Blogs haven’t toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time. Put it this way: you’ve see films of old buildings detonated by precision demolitionists. First you see the puffs of smoke – then the building just hangs there for a second, even though every column that held it up has been severed. We’ve been living in that second for years, waiting for the next frame. Well, here it is. Roll tape. Down she goes. And when the dust settles we will be right back where we were 100 years ago, with dozens of fiercely competitive media outlets throwing elbows to earn your pennies.

Grumble.. grumble.. gloat…

Ok, sure, he’s a better writer than me. Sure he gets about a zillion more readers than me (perhaps somewhat related to the previous point). Sure he’s personal buddies with big-shots in both the old and new media. Sure his description is both more concise and more poetic. But for the record, I said it first!

There. That feels better.

Has anyone headed over to CBS news this morning? I know, I know… who reads that old stuff anymore? It’s like getting your news from the National Enquirer.

But I was just wondering how they were spinning their latest embarrassment.

Interesting to see how those poor benighted souls who rely on the Dan Rather network for their information are looking at this recent flap.

First we get this:

The network defended the autheniticity(sic) of the memos, saying its experts who examined the memos concluded they were authentic documents produced by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian.

Which I sort of expected, because this was their standard line yesterday, and because I presume a few jobs are on the line on that exact point (Though the misspelling of the word “authenticity” was sort of surprising. Perhaps an angry embargo against using MS Word has eliminated their spell-checking ability?).

Then we get to the interesting stuff.

Gary Killian, who served in the Guard with his father and retired as a captain in 1991, said he doubted his father would have written an unsigned memo which said there was pressure to "sugar coat" Mr. Bush's performance review.

"It just wouldn't happen," he said. "No officer in his right mind would write a memo like that."

Ouch. Then we get to this…

The personnel chief in Killian's unit at the time also said he believes the documents are fake.

"They looked to me like forgeries," said Rufus Martin. "I don't think Killian would do that, and I knew him for 17 years." Killian died in 1984.

Odd. Then this…

Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines said the memos looked like they had been produced on a computer using Microsoft Word software. …

… She produced a nearly identical document using her computer's Microsoft Word software.

This is of course old news to those of us who rely on more careful sources for our information. But apparently even those who get their news from CBS are getting an idea how sloppy their journalism was on this.

The article then goes on to offer really weak testimony in support of the document authenticity – which doesn’t come close to rivaling the evidence they cited refuting it. Interestingly, they still do not name the "document experts" they consulted who incomprehensibly thought they were genuine.

There's also this laugher offered in CBS's defense:

... The White House distributed the four memos from 1972 and 1973 after obtaining them from CBS News. The White House did not question their accuracy.

Other than then fact that this helps kill the moonbat theory that these documents came from the White House as part of evil genius Karl Rove's master strategy to discredit the media, this seems to be written to sort of imply that Bush staffers vouched for the documents' authenticity. The more obvious explanation that they didn't want to be accused of concealing information gets spun into an attempt to share at least some of the guilt for missing the forgery with the White House . Pathetic.

The article also rehashes pretty much every nasty charge 60 Minutes made before they new the documents were forged. Just in case you started to think the story here was actually about the media.

They do finally admit that former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes is more than just a disinterested Democrat, and is in fact an “advisor” to the Kerry campaign (though if you want to find out he is one of Kerry’s largest fund-raisers, you’ll need to look to better journalistic sources than CBS).

Anyway, overall it's far from a clear admission of guilt. But even in the house of Rather, this story is starting to smell. Someone is in biiiig trouble over this. And it's not us bloggers - irresponsible rumor-mongers who lack the training and professionalism of real journalists though we may be.


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