Patterico's Pontifications


It’s Not the Cover-Up, It’s Doing Something That Needed to Be Covered Up

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 10:23 pm

I keep hearing that CBS was duped, and that its main mistake was in poorly responding to the questions raised about its story.

No, no — a thousand times, no!

As Tom Maguire says:

“…if knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired.”

What?! ? If he had only known then that CBS had received six documents, and his own hired consultants laughed out loud at two of them? If he had only known that his producer had interviewed Killian’s son, who was extremely skeptical? If he had only known that one of his “document experts” had only approved the signatures, and claimed that authenticating copies was not possible?

I would add: If he had only known that Bobby W. Hodges hadn’t really confirmed the content of the documents, but said instead: “well if he wrote them that’s what he felt”?

And so on.

These are not people who were duped. And the problem is not how they handled it once they were caught — though they handled that part badly. Their main transgression was in ignoring the evidence staring them in the face before the story ever ran. At the very least, they could have given some time on the broadcast to the dissenters.

But they didn’t. And I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: don’t fool yourself believing that this is the first time this has happened. Come on. If you have watched “60 Minutes” then you are familiar with that feeling you have at the end of a segment, when you think to yourself: “Wow, everything seems to point to one conclusion.” You thought that was because everything really did point to one conclusion?

Nope. It’s because everything else was left on the cutting room floor.

We’re just seeing one very notorious example where they got caught.

UPDATE: Welcome to Instapundit readers, and thanks to Prof. Reynolds for linking to this post. My main page is here. I hope new readers will bookmark/blogroll the site and return often.

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History of CBS’s Position on RatherGate — Right There on CBS’s Web Site

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 9:36 pm

This is pretty amusing. If you scroll about halfway down the latest CBS statement on the documents, titled CBS: Bush Memo Story A ‘Mistake’, and look at the right margin, you’ll see something called “Related Stories and Links.” Go to the bottom and read up, looking at the titles of past stories on the CBS web site. It gives you a nice chronological history of the stories as they have emerged:

CBS Defends Bush Memos

. . . .

CBS: ‘Open Mind’ On Memos

. . . .

Dan Rather Statement On Memos

CBS Plans New Memos Statement

[and finally, tonight’s story]

CBS: Bush Memo Story A ‘Mistake’

Yup, that about sums it up. Of course, most of us saw that last punchline coming within about 24 hours of the broadcast.

UPDATE: Or sooner. Tim Blair says 60 Minutes is “so named for the length of time it takes somebody to disprove its stories . . . “

Media Outlets: Put Someone in Charge of Reading Blogs!

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 9:21 pm

Jay Rosen asks a very important question: Did the President of CBS News Have Anyone in Charge of Reading the Internet and Sending Alerts?.

But why limit the question to CBS News? I have made the case to anyone who will listen that news organizations should have people actively and regularly reading blogs. It would improve the quality of reporting everywhere. It might even reduce the corrections we keep requesting the media to make — some of which we actually get.

Will this incident be the catalyst for media organizations to listen to such suggestions??

Belated Blogiversary Wishes

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:11 pm

Yesterday was the one-year blogiversary for BoiFromTroy.

Reaction to Dan Rather Apology

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 6:27 pm

Not mine, silly. I’m in the Pacific time zone and am about to go watch it. But Allah has some interesting questions that will make my viewing more interesting.

Bill at INDC is asking the same thing: who is the unimpeachable source who connects CBS and Burkett?

UPDATE: And then there’s this:

CBS arranged for a confidential source to talk with Joe Lockhart, a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, after the source provided the network with the now-disputed documents about President Bush’s service in the Texas National Guard.

. . . .

The network’s effort to place Burkett in contact with a top Democratic official raises ethical questions about CBS’ handling of material potentially damaging to the Republican president in the midst of an election. This “poses a real danger to the potential credibility of a news organization,” said Aly Colón, a news ethicist at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. “Assuming that, unlike CBS, the news organization in question still has any credibility left.”

I made up that last sentence, of course — ignoring warnings by several experts and other witnesses who had told me that it was not contained in the actual article I was quoting. I made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. Please know that nothing is more important to me than people’s trust in my ability and my commitment to report fairly and truthfully — except for when I think I won’t get caught.

My, How Things Have Changed

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 6:34 am

The New York Times is post from the day after the infamous initial broadcast of the documents:

For what it’s worth, I spoke to someone a few minutes ago who’s familiar with how the documents were vetted, and the bottom line is that CBS is very, very confident that the memos are genuine. They believe that (a) their sources are rock solid, (b) the provenance of the documents is well established, and (c) the appearance of the documents matches the appearance of other documents created at the same place and time. In addition, people who knew Killian well have confirmed that the memos are genuine.

Now that makes for some good readin’.

P.S. Former CBS executive Jonathan Klein was actually right when he said: “You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at “60 Minutes”] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.”

The contrast is indeed looking starker with each passing day.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire recalls Rather’s quote:

I’m confident we worked longer, dug deeper and worked harder than almost anybody in American journalism does.

and Tom responds:

You’ve already dug deeply enough, Dan. Just lie back, and we’ll shovel the dirt on you.

I think the document experts already did that for us, Tom.

UPDATE x2: Scrappleface says Rather is going to break the forgery story and force his own resignation.

Council Winners

Filed under: Watcher's Council — Patterico @ 6:19 am

The winners of the weekly Watcher’s Council contest for best post of the week were announced here.

Thanks to everyone who voted for my post, NPR and Media Matters Can’t Tell Time, which took the prize for best Council entry. Well-deserved congratulations to former Council member Bill Ardolino of INDC Journal for the winning non-Council entry, Are the CBS National Guard Documents Fake?. (I wish that Bill were still in the Council, even though I would not have won this week if he were.)

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