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CBS's Dan Rather The Dan Rather File
Decades of Liberal Media Bias
CBS Evening News with Dan Rather

“I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”
-- Dan Rather on The O'Reilly Factor, May 15, 2001

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Dan's Downfall: Forged Documents
Updated September 20, 2007

CBS Evening NewsOn September 8, 2004, Dan Rather cited “exclusive information, including documents” to justify major CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes stories alleging that George W. Bush shirked his duties when he was in the Texas Air National Guard in the 1960s and 1970s. Within a few hours of those documents being posted on CBS News’ Web site, however, typography experts voiced skepticism that the documents had actually originated with their alleged author and Bush’s former commanding officer, the late Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian.

As the evidence mounted, Rather stubbornly clung to the idea that his story was bulletproof, and he derided critics as partisans and Internet rumormongers. When he “apologized” on September 20, Rather would not concede that the documents were forgeries, only that he and CBS could “no longer vouch for their authenticity.” On November 23, 2004, CBS announced that Rather would soon be leaving his job as anchor of the CBS Evening News. An investigative report released on January 10, 2005 faulted CBS’s rush to put the flawed story on the air and their “stubborn” defense in the days that followed, but oddly decided that they could not blame partisan bias.

Rather "Absolutely" Stands by Bush Story "Truth"

Declaring he "absolutely" believes "the truth" of his discredited story based on forged memos, about President Bush's National Guard record, on the July 12, 2006 Larry King Live on CNN Dan Rather contended that "we had a lot, a lot of corroboration, of what we broadcast about President Bush's military record. It wasn't just the documents." Rather then attacked those who dared to expose his misdeeds: "It's a very old technique used, that when those who don't like what you're reporting believe it can be hurtful, then they look for the weakest spot and attack it, which is fair enough. It's a diversionary technique."
(CyberAlert, July 13, 2006)

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Mary Mapes: National Guard Report Still "Is a Good Story"

Mary Mapes, the producer fired from CBS News for her role in the 60 Minutes story about President Bush's National Guard service, wrote a book to explain her side of the story. On the November 9, 2005 Good Morning America, Brian Ross and Mapes got into the question of the documents and whether the responsibility was to prove the documents authentic before airing the story, or if any documents could be used until someone else proved them to be false. Mapes maintained that "I'm perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there's proof that I haven't seen."

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But when Ross asked, "isn't it the other way around? Don't you have to prove they're authentic?", Mapes contended: "Well, I think that's what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet." Ross pointed out: "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn't that really what journalists do?" Mapes insisted: "No, I don't think that's the standard."
(CyberAlert, November 10, 2005)

Rather: Guard Memo Story "Accurate," Never Proven Not So

In an interview with Marvin Kalb carried live by C-SPAN from the National Press Club on September 26, 2005, Dan Rather made quite clear that he believes in the accuracy of his Bush National Guard story based on what everyone else realizes were fabricated memos. Rather argued that "one supporting pillar of the story, albeit an important one, one supporting pillar was brought into question. To this day no one has proven whether it was what it purported to be or not."

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Kalb pressed for clarification: "I believe you just said that you think the story is accurate?" Rather affirmed: "The story is accurate." Rather soon maintained that the public recognizes the "hidden hand pressure" politicians exert on media executives and so "they understood that what we reported as the central facts of the story and there were new insights into the President's, were correct and to this day, by the way have not been denied which is always the test of whether," and he moved on before finishing his sentence
(CyberAlert, September 27, 2005)

Rather Insists the Memos Are Real

In an interview timed to his departure as CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather told the Late Show’s David Letterman that he thinks the George Bush National Guard memos are authentic. Rather predicted that "given a little more time, perhaps we could have" authenticated the memos, even though the documents have not been affirmed in the six months since the flawed story aired. Rather also resurrected his charge that those who attacked CBS had "their own political motivations and agendas" and crowed about how CBS’s investigative panel found the story "was not motivated by political bias." 
(CyberAlert, March 4, 2005)

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Rather Cries During Interviews

On Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, the New Yorker's Ken Auletta revealed that Dan Rather, in "the dozen or so hours of interviews we did, he cried very often, and unashamedly by the way. He wasn't, you know, embarrassed by the tears, but I think this is a man whose life is flashing before him and who worries that he's going to be judged, his entire career is going to be judged by that September 8th broadcast and not by the other good things he's done throughout his journalistic career." In the magazine, Auletta revealed that Rather was "heartened that the panel declared that it couldn't prove political bias or that the documents were fake."
(CyberAlert, March 3, 2005)

Hell No, They Won’t Go
More than a month after CBS President Leslie Moonves asked three senior employees to resign because of their role in CBS’s pre-election hit job on President Bush, all have refused to leave, the New York Observer reported on February 16. The three — Josh Howard, the Executive Producer of the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes, Mary Murphy, the Senior Producer for the program, and Betsy West, Senior Vice President of CBS News — have all hired lawyers and dispute CBS’s investigative report. Howard, the Observer's Joe Hagan relayed, maintains that "the report itself excludes evidence that would implicate top management at CBS." 
(CyberAlert, February 17, 2005)

New CBS Standards Boss: “It Was a Good Story”
CBS's Linda MasonOn the January 16 Reliable Sources on CNN, the woman picked by CBS News to help prevent a new scandal defended the woman who helped engineer the National Guard forgery fiasco. Linda Mason, the newly named Vice President for Standards and Special Projects, ludicrously maintained that fired 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes "would have done the same story about John Kerry. It was a good story."
(CyberAlert, January 18, 2005)

Ex-President Sees CBS News’ Bias
Van Gordon SauterVan Gordon Sauter, President of CBS News in the early 1980s, revealed in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that he "stopped watching" Dan Rather’s CBS Evening News because "the unremitting liberal orientation finally became too much." Sauter is hardly a conservative; in 1990-91, for instance, he was a producer of the syndicated Voices of America with Jesse Jackson. “Personally, I have a great affection for CBS News,” Sauter wrote. “But I stopped watching it some time ago. The unremitting liberal orientation finally became too much for me. I still check in, but less and less frequently. I increasingly drift to NBC News and Fox and MSNBC.”
(CyberAlert, January 14, 2005)

CBS Report Insists “No Political Agenda”
The day CBS’s investigative panel released its report on the fraudulent 60 Minutes National Guard story, Dan Rather avoided the CBS Evening News, leaving the anchoring duties to Bob Schieffer. The newscast led with two stories, both of which highlighted the panel’s claim that CBS showed no partisan bias in its zeroing in on Bush. Reporter Wyatt Andrews emphasized how the panel ended up "accusing the network not of political bias, but of being in a competitive rush." In a second piece, however, Jim Axelrod acknowledged how others see bias, running a soundbite from a blogger who declared that "it's very clear to me that these people were on a mission to try to get President Bush for the purpose of influencing November's election."
(CyberAlert, January 11, 2005)

Rather Out as CBS Anchor
Eleven weeks after his fraudulent 60 Minutes story targeting President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service was aired, Dan Rather announced he would be stepping down as anchor of the CBS Evening News as of March 9, 2005. In recalling Rather’s long career, both the Washington Post and New York Times touched on his history of liberal bias. “Mr. Rather's disputes with President Nixon and Vice President George H. W. Bush won him plaudits from peers and the continuing ire of conservatives,” the New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg recalled.
(CyberAlert, November 24, 2004)

Bush’s Victory Bad News for CBS?
Those at CBS News involved in the forged documents scandal "may have been rooting for a John Kerry victory," Broadcasting and Cable magazine suggested, because "the feeling in some quarters at CBS was that if Kerry triumphed, fallout from the investigation would be relatively minimal." But with the re-election of the target of their hit, "executives at CBS parent Viacom could take a harder line on the executives involved." 
(CyberAlert, November 9, 2004)

CBS’s Revolving (Democratic) Door
Josh Howard, the top producer for the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes — the CBS program that used forged documents to attack George W. Bush’s National Guard service — previously worked for two liberal New York Democrats, then-Congressman Stephen Solarz and now-Senator Charles Schumer back when he was in the New York state assembly. And, after he started working at CBS, Howard made large contributions to the Solarz campaign, Bob Novak revealed in his September 25 column.
(CyberAlert, September 28, 2004)

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Two-and-a-half weeks after running its hit job on Bush using forged documents, CBS News decided that it would be "inappropriate" to air so close to the presidential election a 60 Minutes story about how the Bush administration relied on forged documents to justify the Iraq war, the Associated Press reported September 25. That and viewers would laugh at CBS’s chutzpah.
(CyberAlert, September 27, 2004)

CBS's Dan RatherRather vs. Republican Thornburgh
On the September 22 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather continued to refuse to describe those memos as forgeries, merely as “documents CBS News has not been able to authenticate,” as if validation might be just around the corner. The New York Times revealed Rather was angry that a Republican, former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, was one of the men appointed to independently investigate the forged memo scandal: “Mr. Rather considers Mr. Thornburgh a confounding choice in part because he served two Republican Presidents, Mr. Bush’s father and Richard M. Nixon, with whom Mr. Rather publicly clashed.”
(CyberAlert, September 23, 2004)

CBS Producer Mary MapesMary Mapes, Liberal Matchmaker
On the September 21 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather again failed to apologize to President Bush for his bogus 60 Minutes story based on forged documents, but the Evening News did acknowledge that Rather’s producer, Mary Mapes, put the Kerry campaign in touch with CBS’s untrustworthy source, Bill Burkett. Reporter Bill Plante read from CBS’s official statement forbidding bias: “It is obviously against CBS News standards to be associated with any political agenda.” Meanwhile, Rather told the Chicago Tribune that he still thinks the memos are real: “Do I think they’re forged? No.”
(CyberAlert, September 22, 2004)

The Slime Before the “Apology”
Before Dan Rather admitted his own errors in pushing a fraudulent anti-Bush story based on partisan sources and forged documents, he and his network chose to point fingers at others, falsely suggesting that CBS was promoting “truth” in the face of “partisan political ideological forces.” Of course, the “ideological forces” condemning CBS’s sloppy journalism were correct.
(Worst Of The Week, September 21, 2004)

Dan Rather’s Sorry Apology
While he did acknowledge it was “a mistake” to have used forged memos in his attack on George W. Bush, Rather on the September 20 Evening News refused to describe the memos as forgeries, offered no apology for impugning critics — who turned out to be accurate — as “partisan political operatives” and “partisan political ideological forces,” and he conceded CBS approached Bill Burkett despite Burkett’s well-known Bush-hating animosity. And the father of CBS producer Mary Mapes, who engineered the flawed 60 Minutes hit piece, told a Seattle radio station: “I’m really ashamed what my daughter has become. She’s a typical liberal.”
(CyberAlert, September 21, 2004)

So Much for Dan’s Thrust
Dan Rather’s notion that “the thrust” of his report was unchallenged was destroyed September 17 when ABC News interviewed retired Brigadier General Walter Staudt, the man whom the memos claimed was “pushing to sugar coat” George W. Bush’s National Guard performance record. Staudt told ABC he did not give Bush any favored treatment. But in the next morning’s Los Angeles Times, 60 Minutes executive producer Josh Howard tried to blame the White House for CBS’s sloppy reporting, and the September 19 Washington Post exposed the new “experts” CBS touted as bolstering their case. “I’m not an expert and I don’t pretend to be,” former typewriter repairman Bill Glennon confessed.
(CyberAlert, September 20, 2004)

More Erosion
Dan Rather did not talk about the forged memo scandal on the September 16 CBS Evening News, but his case looked ever weaker. FNC’s Jim Angle interviewed Texas Air National Guard veterans who contradicted claims made by Rather and ex-secretary Marian Carr Knox on 60 Minutes the night before, and “none of the experts used by CBS are accredited by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners,” CNN’s Jeanne Meserve reported on NewsNight. Meanwhile, CBS News veteran Andy Rooney told the New York Daily News he thinks the memos are fakes, adding: “I’m surprised at their reluctance to concede they’re wrong.”
(CyberAlert, September 17, 2004)

CBS's Dan RatherFake but Accurate
On the September 15 60 Minutes, Dan Rather offered a sleazy new standard for journalists: Using phoney evidence is okay if “the major thrust” of the story might be true. Rather trumpeted how while the 86-year-old ex-secretary of Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian said CBS’s memos were not authentic, “she told us she believes what the documents actually say is exactly as we reported.” Later that night, Rather ludicrously boasted to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz: “If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I’d like to break that story.”
(CyberAlert, September 16, 2004)

CBS Disregarded Experts, Challenged Laura Bush
ABC’s Brian Ross reported on the September 14 World News Tonight that “two experts hired by CBS News say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast about the disputed National Guard records.” But over on CBS, reporter John Roberts wondered why President Bush wasn’t taking those memos seriously: “The President has yet to weigh in on new documents about his National Guard record made public last week by 60 Minutes.” Roberts also chastised First Lady Laura Bush for doubting CBS’s memos were authentic: “Laura Bush offered no evidence to back up her claim, and CBS News continues to stand by its reporting.”
(CyberAlert, September 15, 2004)

CBS Evening NewsEven CBS’s Expert Jumps Ship
Just days after Dan Rather cited handwriting expert Marcel Matley as confirming the authenticity of those memos, Matley told the Washington Post that he could not vouch for CBS’s memos. A September 14 article by Michael Dobbs and Howard Kurtz quoted Matley undermining Rather: “There’s no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them.” On the September 13 Evening News, however, Rather highlighted a typewriter repairman as evidence “that the documents could have been created in the ‘70s,” although he did not establish whether the Texas Air National Guard possessed the expensive equipment required to do so.
(CyberAlert, September 14, 2004)

More Evidence Contradicts CBS
On the September 11 Good Morning America, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos relayed that retired Major General Bobby Hodges, “who CBS described as their ‘trump card,’ now says that he thinks the documents are not authentic and he does not believe the CBS story is true.” The Dallas Morning News reported that retired General Walter Staudt, “the man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to ‘sugar coat’ President Bush’s military record, left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written, his own service record shows.” And the Washington Times on September 12 quoted the reaction of Earl Lively, the director of Texas Air National Guard operations during Bush’s years of service: “They’re forged as hell.”
(CyberAlert, September 13, 2004)

 Sticking By His Smear
On September 10, Dan Rather responded to charges the memos he cited as proving Bush’s dereliction were forged, telling his CBS Evening News audience that the memos were genuine and attacking any doubters as partisan rumor-mongers. “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,” Rather castigated. But his lame defense ignored key challenges to the documents’ typography and content, and the doubts voiced by the widow and son of the supposed author, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. Instead, Rather chose to repeat his indictment of President Bush’s National Guard service. Rather arrogantly concluded: “If any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it. So far there is none.”
(CyberAlert, September 11, 2004)


Double-Standard Dan
After weeks of ignoring or denigrating anti-Kerry charges voiced by fellow Vietnam veterans, CBS’s Dan Rather led the September 8 Evening News with supposed new proof that George W. Bush had shirked his duties as a Texas Air National Guardsman 30 years earlier: “There are new questions tonight about President Bush’s service in


the Texas Air National Guard in the late 1960s and early ’70s and about his insistence that he met his military service obligations. CBS News has exclusive information, including documents, that now sheds new light on the President’s service record. 60 Minutes has obtained government documents that indicate Mr. Bush may have received preferential treatment in the Guard after not fulfilling his commitments.”
(CyberAlert, September 9, 2004)

A Question or a Threat?
During an interview with First Lady Laura Bush on the September 2 CBS Evening News (the last day of the Republican convention), Rather seemed to couch a threat in the form of a question: “Now that friends and supporters of the President have raised the issue of John Kerry’s combat record in Vietnam, do you or do you not think it’s fair now for the Kerry people to come back and dig anew into your husband’s military service record?” That was less than a week before Rather used forged memos as evidence in stories attacking Bush’s National Guard Service.
(CyberAlert, September 3, 2004)




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