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The Weekly Worst

CBS's Strategy: Smear & Stonewall

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004 Weekly Worst PDF

     There's really no contest for who deserves the Media Research Center's "award" for last week's worst bias:

First the Smear... Dan Rather led Wednesday's CBS Evening News by touting four exclusively-obtained "memos" purportedly showing that George W. Bush's squadron commander, Jerry Killian, was fed up with the young Air National Guard Lieutenant's failure to get a physical exam. The same documents also starred on 60 Minutes that night, as did a major Democratic partisan, Ben Barnes, who claimed he was "sorry" he helped Bush get a slot in the National Guard, a suspicious reversal.

On Wednesday, Dan Rather touted the suspect memos as damning proof Bush did not fulfill his commitments.

CBS's new "evidence" triggered stories in every major news outlet, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, ABC, NBC, FNC and CNN. But by the next morning, many of those same news organizations quoted independent experts doubting the authenticity of the memos, dated 1972 and 1973, since they looked computer-generated, not typed, citing a range of formatting issues. Then Killian's widow told ABC Radio that her late husband did not type or keep extensive records, and Killian's son told the Associated Press he doubted his father wrote those "memos."

     For more, see the September 9 and September 11 CyberAlerts.

...Then the Stonewall. But on Friday's Evening News, Rather offered a six-minute response that repeated his indictment of Bush, ignored most of the substantive charges (including any mention of Killian's family) and cast CBS's critics as partisan and unreliable: "Today, on the Internet and elsewhere, some people, including many who are partisan political operatives, concentrated not on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the story." So it doesn't matter if the "memos" are a fraud?

Dan Rather used the forgery flap as an excuse to repeat his indictment of Bush's Guard service.

     For more, see the September 11 CyberAlert.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose. As CBS's anti-Bush story unwound Friday morning, ABC's George Stephanopoulos suggested any forgery originated with the GOP: "A lot of Democrats suspect this was a set up, something set up by Republicans." What, liberals don't get blamed for anything?

     For more, see the September 10 CyberAlert.





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