Hey, remember that list of rabid right-wing lunatics CBS considered for its Dan Rather Memogate investigation? The one that I wrote about three weeks ago, and that the NYT finally reported on 11 days later? Have you seen any mention of it in the corporate media other than that one NYT story? Neither has the Miami Herald’s Ed Wasserman:
So, a panel is convened by one of the country’s most powerful news organizations to scrutinize the journalism that produced a scathing portrayal of the dubious military record of a sitting president. And the panel is assembled to the specifications of the president’s most zealous supporters.
To me, that’s remarkable. Even scandalous. Surely newsworthy. Yet The New York Times report from which I drew the above details was the only substantial coverage I found.
Funny, that. Wasserman also notes something else, which may be even more revealing about the media:
Within three weeks the network caved and said it shouldn’t have relied on the documents. That concession was viewed as acknowledging fundamental problems with the segment’s veracity. So were the conclusions of the review panel headed by Thornburgh and Boccardi.
But their 223-page report did no such thing.
Though sharply critical of the network’s strident dismissal of critics, the panel never concluded the broadcast was wrong — that Bush’s military record wasn’t marked by favoritism and dereliction. Nor did it ever say the disputed documents were bogus. Instead, the panel concluded the documents couldn’t be proven genuine, and for a simple reason: They were photocopies….
Howie Kurtz had a pretty good roundup of the media reaction to the report when it came out, and it is just as Wasserman says:
A "scathing report," says the Wall Street Journal. "A crushing blow to its credibility," says the New York Times. "The network was forced to backtrack," says the Los Angeles Times. "Some outside observers said CBS did not go far enough," says USA Today. "A scathing independent postmortem that describes the story’s journalistic failings," says the Boston Globe. "Shoddy, corner-cutting journalism," says the New York Post.
I read the NYT, USA Today, and Boston Globe stories (the LAT and NY Post links were broken) and they all present the National Guard story as discredited in every way.
So, to recap: First, Viacom/CBS (in the person of CBS News President Andy Heyward) aggressively sabotages Rather by trying to suppress the National Guard story, then taking charge of vetting the memos, then muzzling Rather when the pajamasphere attacks. Next, the rest of the corporate media pretend that the Thornburgh panel report declared the National Guard story a hoax. And, finally, the media ignore the revelation that CBS looked at stacking its panel with the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.
Stay tuned for my next post: "Dan Rather Set On Fire, Media Refuse To Piss On Him."