Cliff Kincaid- Contributor
Cliff Kincaid, serves as editor of the Accuracy
in Media (AIM)
Report. A veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff has
appeared on the Fox News programs Hannity & Colmes and
The O'Reilly Factor, where he debated O'Reilly on global
warming, the death penalty,
and the homosexual agenda. He was a guest co-host on CNN's Crossfire
(filling in for Pat Buchanan) in the 1980s, where he confronted
the then-Libyan Ambassador to the U.N. with evidence of Libyan
involvement in international terrorism. Through his America's
Survival, Inc., organization (www.usasurvival.org), he has been
an advocate on behalf of the families of victims of terrorism
and has published reports and held conferences critical of the
United Nations. His articles have appeared in the Washington
Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events, Insight, and
other publications. He served on the staff of Human Events for
several years and was an editorial writer and newsletter editor
for former National Security Council staffer Oliver North at
his Freedom Alliance educational foundation. He has written or
co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign
policy issues. Cliff is married and has three sons.[go to
Rather's Last Stand
[Cliff Kincaid] 9/17/04
Dan Rather and CBS
News on Wednesday night came up with what looks like their
final defense of the use of probably forged
documents to discredit President Bush’s service in the
National Guard. Rather said that the controversial documents
may be “re-creations” of actual documents that he
The latest turn in
the scandal is a clever ploy and shell game on the part of
Rather and it may buy him some time. He’s
trying to convince the public—and his colleagues in the
press—that the real issue isn’t whether the documents
are fakes but whether they convey the truth about Bush.
As a result of this
new twist, the critics of CBS News who have been waiting for
a Rather apology or firing may have to wait
even longer—perhaps in vain. The ambiguous White House
response to the documents—by refusing to denounce them
and in fact providing them to news organizations—has enabled
CBS News to put forward this dubious defense of what is clearly
questionable conduct by a major news organization.
By any reasonable
standard, CBS News failed to properly investigate the story
before putting it on the air. In the week that has
passed since the story aired, CBS News has been desperately trying
to find various “experts” to add some weight or credibility
to its objectionable conduct and conclusions.
But on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes, the
scandal took a new turn when Rather interviewed Marian Knox,
a secretary to the late Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian, Bush’s
commander in the Texas Air National Guard and the purported author
of the memos. Knox said the documents are fake and even pointed
out several discrepancies in them. But she said the information
in them is “correct.”
The key exchange, from the CBS News standpoint, came here:
Rather: You say you
didn’t type these memos?
Knox: Not these particular ones.
Rather: Did you type ones like this?
Rather: Containing the same or identical information?
Knox: The same information, yes.
Just as quickly as Rather seemed to be admitting, by airing
the Knox interview, that the documents are fakes, Knox says the
information against Bush in the documents is correct.
Knox believes the
CBS News story line about Bush evading his National Guard service
and takes the curious position that the
documents are accurate but fake. Rather, in his current desperate
state, figures that it may have enough of a ring of truth to
keep the story alive and buy more time for the network to stonewall
the devastating charges of deception and cover-up from the growing
number of critics. Simply put, Rather is trying to change the
subject—from Dan Rather back to George W. Bush.
While many observers
were expecting CBS News to face up to the evidence that the
documents are fakes, Rather is saying that
his story about Bush is still true, except for the fact that
the documents he used on the air were the wrong ones! Viewers
are now being led to believe that this is just a trivial detail
when the documents were themselves put forward as the “smoking
gun” against Bush.
Rather will not, at
this point at least, admit outright that the documents are
fakes. Indeed, he quoted from them again, to
get Knox to make her point that while the documents may not be
real, their information was true. But he is trying to move the
public—and the press—beyond the issue of the alleged
forgeries and back toward Bush.
This strategy seems
to be working in some quarters. The far-left “Media
Matters” organization is already claiming that the CBS
News memos are “trivial” and beside the point.
There may never be “definitive” evidence, as Rather
once cleverly framed the controversy, to prove or disprove the
validity of the documents. Because the documents are copies,
an absolute case may not be made either way, unless the “source” or
forger comes forward to admit the offense or is discovered. Some
news organizations suspect the source may be a bitter ex-guardsman
who had a nervous breakdown and has made unsubstantiated charges
against Bush and his aides in the past.
Even with such a revelation,
however, one can anticipate Dan Rather defending his use of
the apparently phony documents by
saying that the forger had an honorable motive—to expose
Bush’s alleged evasion of his National Guard service. That
is the story that Dan Rather, driven by an anti-Bush bias, will
The White House response, as it has always been, will be that
Bush got an honorable discharge. CBS News seems to be standing
by the story no matter what. CRO
2004 Accuracy in Media