Wednesday Night Dan Rather Discovered Chandra Levy, But Only to Clear Condit, Who Was Not Labeled a Democrat, And Impugn DC Police
1) Wednesday night the weekday version of the CBS Evening
News finally discovered the Chandra Levy/Gary Condit story. But instead of
filling in their ill-informed viewers about Condit's obfuscation
regarding his relationship with Levy, CBS emphasized how "law
enforcement sources" believe "that local police have put an
'inappropriate emphasis' on the role of Congressman Gary Condit,"
whom CBS did not identify as a Democrat.
2) Back in 1992 the weekday CBS Evening News immediately
aired a full story on sexual harassment charges against "Oregon
Republican Bob Packwood."
3) Dan Rather is scheduled to appear Thursday morning on
Imus in the Morning on MSNBC.
CBS Evening News and Dan Rather on Thursday decided that what was news was
not any of the numerous revelations over the past few weeks about the lies
and obfuscating of a sitting Member of Congress regarding his relationship
with a missing woman, but how, as Jim Stewart reported, "law
enforcement sources" believe "that local police have put an
'inappropriate emphasis' on the role of Congressman Gary Condit."
Rather and Stewart failed to identify Condit as a Democrat and Stewart
added a shot at the D.C. Police: "Prosecutors are said to be
particularly unhappy over the multiple press appearances local police make
each day with essentially nothing to report."
As if CBS News has never done that.
Rather set up the story by insulting the news
judgment of every other CBS News show which has covered the case,
including the weekend editions of the CBS Evening News, by implying
nothing until now has really been newsworthy: "There is news tonight
worthy of national note in the case of missing person 24-year-old Chandra
Levy." Rather also oddly referred to the "widely-publicized
investigation." A "widely-publicized investigation" until
now ignored by Rather.
Immediately after Stewart's piece Rather
told viewers they should "keep in mind" that "no one's
been charged with breaking any law," as if the CBS Evening News has
never before run a story about something before charges have been formally
Below is the full transcript I took down of
the July 18 CBS Evening News story which ran about ten minutes into the
Setting up the piece Dan Rather betrayed his
reticence to touch the matter: "There is news tonight worthy of
national note in the case of missing person 24-year-old Chandra Levy. The
young women disappeared in Washington more than eleven weeks ago and
became one of tens of thousands of missing persons across the country. CBS
News correspondent Jim Stewart reports that now both the status and the
nature of this widely-publicized investigation have changed."
Stewart began: "Washington's
summer-long search for a missing former intern has quietly reached a
critical juncture. Earlier this week the FBI officially transferred the
Chandra Levy investigation to its cold case unit, which historically has
handled only the toughest cases which have few clues. Law enforcement
sources say too say the shift in responsibility coincides with the belief
that local police have put an 'inappropriate emphasis' on the role of
Congressman Gary Condit in the case and while Metropolitan Washington
Police continue as the lead investigators, FBI agents will start at ground
zero and 'focus on areas other than Representative Condit.' [Both
quotes appeared in quotes in on-screen graphics.]
Stewart continued: "Meanwhile, laboratory
tests on a hat, a jacket and other items taken from Condit's Washington
apartment have thus far disclosed no traces of blood or other useful
evidence. Justice Department sources say there is also growing uneasiness
among prosecutors over the public spectacle the case has become.
Prosecutors are said to be particularly unhappy over the multiple press
appearances local police make each day with essentially nothing to
D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey:
"Anywhere we think she might be we'll continue to search and
we'll continue to follow up on leads."
Stewart picked up: "Meanwhile, the new lead
FBI investigator, special agent Brad Garrett, has worked closely with
Metropolitan Washington Police in the past. Garrett was also one of the
principal agents who spent four years tracking down and arresting Mir Amir
Kanzi [spelling approximate], the Pakistani national who fled home after
murdering two CIA agents while they waited in traffic outside the
Stewart concluded: "The real significance
of the FBI re-assignment is in the very name of the unit handling it.
'Cold case' means cold leads, few tips and little to go on. The media
spotlight may stay hot but the investigation now appears to be in the
hands of people prepared to take years to do their work."
Rather followed up: "You may want to keep
in mind that the case remains officially a missing person case. No crime
has been established. No one has been accused by law men of anything, much
less formerly charged. No one's been charged with breaking any
The Early Show first reported on the Levy case in a Thursday, May 17
interview with Chandra Levy's mother, so it took a day shy of another
nine weeks for the weekday CBS Evening News to see any news value in the
case. The Saturday and Sunday editions of the CBS Evening News covered the
case starting on July 7.
That's quite a contrast from how quickly the
weekday CBS Evening News with Dan Rather jumped on allegations of sexual
harassment against Senator Bob Packwood back in 1992. On Monday, November
23, 1992, the day after a Sunday Washington Post story had first revealed
claims by several women that Packwood, a liberal Republican, had accosted
them with unwanted touching and kisses, all three broadcast network
evening shows ran full stories which identified Packwood as a Republican.
Dan Rather introduced the 1992 report:
"One of the better known names in the U.S. Senate is caught up in
accusations of sexual harassment. And with a record number of women
Senators coming into the new Congress, this could be an early test of how
much politics in the Senate is destined to change. Chief Washington
correspondent Bob Schieffer has the story."
Schieffer wasted no time in highlighting
Packwood's party, starting his piece: "For Oregon Republican Bob
Packwood, the November election was sweet. He won a fifth term after one
of his toughest campaigns ever. But suddenly, it has all gone sour over
allegations of sexual harassment..."
To view a RealPlayer clip of this 1992 CBS
Evening News story, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010716.asp#5
Rather being questioned about his lack of coverage of Levy/Condit.
According to the Imus page on the msnbc.com
Web site Rather is scheduled to appear Thursday morning, July 19,
during the 7:30am EDT half hour of the Imus in the Morning radio show
simulcast on MSNBC.
Expect Rather to offer some lame excuses for
avoiding the story for so long. -- Brent Baker
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