Thursday, September 16, 2004
Okay, so I want to get this straight. CBS, in their "statement" yesterday, basically did this:
- Essentially called the two authenticators who disagreed with them liars
- Continued to say that Matley believes that all documents are authentic, even though he said in a LA Times piece that he only judged one memo.
And I find it hard to believe that Matley was comfortable in making these authentications: From a 2002 article he wrote in The Practical Litigator: "In fact, modern copiers and computer printers are so good that they permit easy fabrication of quality forgeries. From a copy, the document examiner cannot authenticate the unseen original but may well be able to determine that the unseen original is false. Further, a definite finding of authenticity for a signature is not possible from a photocopy, while a definite finding of falsity is possible. (emphasis mine)
- Basically admits after all this that they STILL don't know if the documents are real, but it doesn't matter because the story is true.
Guess what, boys? It does matter. It's not about the story anymore. It's about the fact you took questionable documents, and didn't research them properly. Your own experts warned you not to run the docs and yet you threw them on the air anyway to get a story that reflected negatively against a man that Dan Rather doesn't like. Now that you've been caught, you're in "stonewall mode", admitting nothing and pretending it's all fluff. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way.
I don't think it takes a genius to realize that Bush had help getting into the ANG. But that ceased to be the important issue here once CBS disregarded proper journalistic procedure in publicising these documents. Sorry, COPIES of documents. They've never seen "the originals." Which makes it even harder to comprehend how these got on the air.
CBS let their animus towards Bush (Rather did, anyway) trump their responsibility as journalists. THAT'S the issue here and that is why Rather has to step down.
As seems to be the standard on my blog, I leave the last word to Andrew Sullivan. Again, his blog in excellent. Visit it.
So what possessed Rather? I think he loathes this president so much that he couldn't bring himself to see the fakes in front of him. That's bad enough. But to keep digging in and to try the rescue the story by further reporting is a far worse offense. He's got to go.
Update: Here are a couple of Washington Post pieces. The first details where the forgeries may have originated. The second piece deals with Rather's trying to escape blame for this folly.
The second piece is really enlightening, as it shows Rather's blatant disregard for the ethical issues involved with passing on the memos. Really good writing from the Post, which may be slowly surpassing the NY Times as the paper of record in the US.