Saturday, September 18, 2004

Readings on Rathergate

Dan Rather and CBS continue to deny the fact that they ran a shoddy, poorly sourced story attacking the president, based on fraudulent evidence, less than two months before the election. This is a disgrace, and a far bigger story than the issue of how many National Guard drills George Bush attended in 1972. The forged memos represent an effort to perpetrate a fraud on the American people in order to influence the outcome of a presidential election. I for one am puzzled that so many of the liberals and leftists who decry the evils of big corporations seem unconcerned when a multi-billion dollar media empire seeks to impact an election by running a fraudulent story. I guess corporate malfeasance is okay when it's directed against the evil BusHitler chimp of death.

Here's a roundup of articles that discuss the latest on Rathergate:

-In the Weekly Standard, Jonathan Last provides a great overview of how Rathergate unfolded, especially how blogs like Power Line and Little Green Footballs had exposed the memos as forgeries less than 24 hours after CBS aired them:

What Blogs Have Wrought

-Also in the Standard, Matthew Continetti discusses the pathetic efforts of the Democrats to keep flogging the dead horse of Bush's National Guard service as part of their "Fortunate Son" campaign. Judging by the results of the latest Gallup and CBS/New York Times polls, the "Fortunate Son" campaign seems to be meeting with predictably unfortunate results. As a Republican strategist tells Continetti:

"So, yeah, the tactics are that they play the Fogerty song, and they put up some stupid web ads, and they attack Bush as the son of privilege," he went on. "They're desperately trying to refight the Vietnam war . . . counterpunching about Guard service."

He paused, searching for the right words. "Kerry ought to follow his own advice to the Foreign Relations Committee," he said, "and get the hell out of Vietnam."

Unfortunate Democrats

As long as the Democrats persist in campaigning against the George W. Bush of 1972 while refusing to offer a credible vision of how they will wage war on Islamist terror, this election promises to look more like Bush-Dukakis then Bush-Gore.

-With the memos clearly shown to be forgeries, the question now is how did CBS obtain them, and from whom. Suspicion has focused on a man named Bill Burkett, a Texas Democrat and disgruntled former guardsman who has been peddling the "Bush was AWOL" nonsense since the late 1990's. On Friday, the Houston Chronicle ran an article on Burkett and and his long record of anti-Bush activism. Suffice it to say that he makes Michael Moore look like William F. Buckley:

Bill Burkett, who has emerged as a possible CBS source for disputed memos about President Bush's Guard service, has a long history of making charges against Bush and the Texas National Guard.

But Burkett's allegations have changed over the years, and have been dismissed as baseless by former Guard colleagues, state legislators and others.

Even Burkett has admitted some of his allegations are false.

Texan has a history of attacks on Bush

If CBS did use Burkett as a source, it is a damning indictment of their incompetence, partisanship, or both.

-The Los Angeles Times ran an article today providing a useful overview of how CBS developed the story:

In the Rush for a Scoop, CBS Found Trouble Fast

-In today's Washington Post, Michael Dobbs has another good article on Bill Burkett:

Parallels Drawn Between CBS Memos, Texan's Postings

(If you don't have a Post username and password, go to

The former Texas National Guard officer suspected of providing CBS News with possibly forged records on President Bush's military service called on Democratic activists to wage "war" against Republican "dirty tricks" in a series of Internet postings in which he also used phrases similar to several employed in the disputed documents.

The potential blockbuster in this story comes at the end:

In an Aug. 21 posting, Burkett referred to a conversation with former senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.) about the need to counteract Republican tactics: "I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to ground and outlast it, not spending any money. He said counterattack. So I gave them the information to do it with. But none of them have called me back."

Cleland confirmed that he had a two- or three-minute conversation by cell phone with a Texan named Burkett in mid-August while he was on a car ride. He remembers Burkett saying that he had "valuable" information about Bush, and asking what he should with it. "I told him to contact the [Kerry] campaign," Cleland said. "You get this information tens of times a day, and you don't know if it is legit or not."

I've said earlier that if the forged memos can be tied to the Kerry campaign or DNC, this election is over. If anything came of Burkett's contacts with the Kerry campaign, Kerry might be fortunate to do as well as Dukakis.

-Finally, this article from the American Spectator Web site offers the final word on Dan Rather's journalistic integrity or lack thereof:

Rather says he wants to break the story that broke upon him? Here's his chance. How Rather went from a fundraiser for Texas Democrats to a conduit for their forgeries is a tale Rather could best tell.

But he won't. Having raised $20,000 for Travis County Democrats, Rather's connection to the fetid waters of the forgery are deep enough to sink him. Burkett's lawyer is David Van Os, a former chairman of the Travis County Democratic party. Just as Rather calls the forgery a true lie -- that is, a deception that draws attention to a "core truth" -- so does Van Os, who said to the press: "If, hypothetically, Bill Burkett or anyone else, any other individual, had prepared or had typed on a word processor, as some of the journalists are presuming, without much evidence, if someone in the year 2004 had prepared on a word processor replicas of documents that they believed had existed in 1972 or 1973, which Bill Burkett has absolutely not done, what difference would it make?"

A forgery Kitty Kelley wouldn't touch is suddenly a matter of indifference. Rather has left his journalistic reputation in Texas with a Kinko's caper in Abilene.

Working Kinko's

The network of Edward R. Murrow now practices "journalism" on a par with Michael Moore. Is it any wonder why so many Americans now turn to Fox News and blogs?


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