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Dan Rather Showcases Secretary Who Says Memos Fake But True --9/16/2004


1. Dan Rather Showcases Secretary Who Says Memos Fake But True
The secretary to the late Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian told the Dallas Morning News that the memos touted by CBS in its effort to discredit President Bush are forgeries, but since she decided their content matched the thoughts expressed by Killian, 60 Minutes showcased her Wednesday night, thus setting a new journalistic standard: Use phoney evidence to smoke out support for your otherwise uncorroborated theory. Rather highlighted how she addressed a reference in one of CBS's forged memos "to retired General Staudt pushing for a positive officer training report on Lieutenant Bush. 'And Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it.' Does that sound like Colonel Killian? Is that the way he felt?" Marian Carr Knox affirmed: "That's absolutely the way he felt about that." Rather soon prodded her about Bush's "attitude." She contended, in an answer which could have applied equally as well to the behavior of CBS and Rather in covering the story: "Well, that he really didn't have to go by the rules." Turning melodramatic, Rather made it sound as if Bush not taking a physical after four years of service was some kind of threat to national security: "Your country's at war. It's very unusual for a military officer, particularly a flying officer, not to obey a direct order from his superior."

2. CBS Statement Regurgitates Same Lame Rationalizations, Experts
Conceding that "numerous questions have been raised about the authenticity of the documents," in a two-and-a-half page statement posted Wednesday evening, CBS News maintained that the division "believes it is important for the news media to be accountable and address legitimate questions." But that's not what the statement did. In the face of several major news outlets reporting that multiple experts they consulted considered the documents to be pretty obvious forgeries, CBS ignored all of them except two CBS had consulted as the network rejected their expert assessments. CBS News delivered little more than a regurgitation of the same lame rationalizations laid out on Monday's CBS Evening News.

3. Rather Lashes Out at "Partisan Political Ideological Forces"
"If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story," Dan Rather ludicrously boasted Wednesday night to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz days after virtually every significant news outlet in the nation had "broken" how Rather fell for a hoax. Though Rather insisted to Kurtz that "any time I'm wrong, I want to be right out front and say, 'Folks, this is what went wrong and how it went wrong," in discussions with reporters he's continued to be more interested in impugning those who have raised questions than in admitting his screw-up. A defiant Rather told Kurtz for a Thursday article: "I don't back up. I don't back down. I don't cave when the pressure gets too great from these partisan political ideological forces." Rather argued to the New York Observer that "powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they can't deny the fundamental truth of the story." Rather also equated the current situation to the "heat" CBS News took "during the McCarthy time."

4. On Vietnam Service, CBS Pounds Republicans & Excuses Democrats
Dan Rather and CBS News have delivered a "tilted history of coverage of baby-boomer Vietnam service," pounding at Republicans Dan Quayle and George W. Bush, while defending and excusing the records of Democrats Al Gore, Bill Clinton and John Kerry, and "that causes conservatives to roll their eyes when Dan Rather insists that his critics should be scorned as 'partisan political operatives,'" the MRC's Tim Graham observed in a Wednesday piece for National Review Online in which Graham provided a review of CBS's news judgments over the past 16 years.


Dan Rather Showcases Secretary Who Says
Memos Fake But True

CBS's Dan Rather The secretary to the late Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian told the Dallas Morning News that the memos touted by CBS in its effort to discredit President Bush are forgeries, but since she decided their content matched the thoughts expressed by Killian, 60 Minutes showcased her Wednesday night, thus setting a new journalistic standard: Use phoney evidence to smoke out support for your otherwise uncorroborated theory. Dan Rather trumpeted how the 86-year-old Marian Carr Knox "flew to New York this afternoon to tell us she believes the documents we obtained are not authentic. But there's yet another confusing twist to this story. She told us she believes what the documents actually say is exactly as we reported."

That's not a "confusing twist." That's a clear rejection of the basis of CBS's sleazy reporting.

CBS's 60 Minutes Rather highlighted how she addressed a reference in one of CBS's forged memos "to retired General Staudt pushing for a positive officer training report on Lieutenant Bush. 'And Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it.' Does that sound like Colonel Killian? Is that the way he felt?" Knox, sitting in a chair facing Rather, affirmed: "That's absolutely the way he felt about that." Rather emphasized that in the case of another memo, "she doesn't believe the memo is authentic, but she says the facts behind it are very real."

Rather soon prodded her about Bush's "attitude." She contended, in an answer which could have applied equally as well to the behavior of CBS and Rather in covering the story: "Well, that he really didn't have to go by the rules." Rather echoed her: "He didn't have to go by the rules?" Knox: "It seemed that way to me."

Turning melodramatic, Rather made it sound as if Bush not taking a physical after four years of service was some kind of threat to national security: "Your country's at war. It's very unusual for a military officer, particularly a flying officer, not to obey a direct order from his superior."

In 13 minutes of air time, Rather failed to point out how Knox is no admirer of Bush. Pete Slover reported in Tuesday's Dallas Morning News that "she does not support Mr. Bush as President, deeming him 'unfit for office' and 'selected, not elected.'"

Rather concluded the 60 Minutes segment by arguing the potential phoniness of the memos on which CBS based its story just a week earlier doesn't matter: "We do feel it's important to underscore this point: Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of our report, that George Bush received preferential treatment to get into the National Guard, and once accepted, failed to satisfy the requirements of his service."

So, by that reasoning, how come CBS News has not yet devoted detailed CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes stories to the claims about John Kerry by members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? CBS may contend that some of the specifics of their allegations are not accurate, but that shouldn't distract from how the "thrust" of their contention -- that Kerry gamed the system to get medals to fortify a political career -- remains true.

CBS's Dan Rather A nearly full transcript of the September 15 60 Minutes segment, as compiled by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth. Dan Rather set up the segment, as he sat in front of a story card titled "For the Record" with a Vietnam-era photo above of Bush:
"Last week on this broadcast, we heard for the first time the full story from the Texas politician who says he helped George Bush avoid military service in Vietnam. Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes said he helped Bush get a highly coveted place in the National Guard. We also presented documents for the first time which indicated that once Mr. Bush was accepted into the Guard, he failed to live up to the requirements of his service, including following an order. We reported that the documents were written by Lieutenant Bush's National Guard squad commander, the late Colonel Jerry Killian, who passed away in 1984. In the past week, those documents have been subjected to extraordinary scrutiny and criticism. Tonight, another voice, a credible voice, has entered the debate. The woman who describes herself as Colonel Killian's right hand during much of the 1970s. Marian Carr Knox, Colonel Killian's secretary, flew to New York this afternoon to tell us she believes the documents we obtained are not authentic. But there's yet another confusing twist to this story. She told us she believes what the documents actually say is exactly as we reported. Marian Carr Knox is 86 years old and completely comfortable in the eye of a storm. She spent more than two decades keeping pilots and officers in line at Ellington Air Field in Houston. Now, she wants to set the record straight about the memos CBS obtained. But there's a twist."
Rather, sitting face-to-face with Knox against and orange background: "You've seen the memos that we broadcast, these memos that we got."
Marian Carr Knox: "I did not type those memos."
Rather: "You didn't type these memos?"
Knox: "No. And it's not the form that I would have used. And there are words in there that belong to the Army, not to the Air Guard. We never used those terms."
Rather: "With these memos, you know that you didn't type them?"
Knox: "I know that I didn't type them. However, the information in those is correct."
Rather: "Few, if any things that I ask you about will be more important at this point. You say you didn't type these memos, definitely you didn't type these memos?
Knox: "Not these particular ones."
Rather: "Did you type ones like this?"
Knox: "Yes."
Rather: "Containing the same or identical information?"
Knox: "The same information, yes."
Rather narrated: "Mrs. Knox says the information in the full memo CBS obtained is very familiar, but she doesn't believe the memos are authentic. She does remember her boss, Colonel Jerry Killian, being upset over Mr. Bush's failure to follow orders to take a physical." Rather to Knox: "Did or did not Lieutenant Bush take a physical as ordered by Colonel Killian?"
Knox: "That last time, no he didn't."
Rather: "To your knowledge, was he ordered to do so?"
Knox: "Yes."
Rather: "This is important, I think you'll agree that then-Lieutenant Bush was in the military, Lieutenant Colonel Killian was his immediate military commander, correct? His squadron commander?"
Knox: "Right."
Rather: "Your country's at war. It's very unusual for a military officer, particularly a flying officer, not to obey a direct order from his superior. If not, tell me."
Knox: "It was a big no-no to not follow orders. And I can't remember anyone refusing to..."
Rather: "Did you ever hear Lieutenant Colonel Killian talk about this or did he write memos about this? What was his feeling if Lieutenant Bush did not take the physical as ordered?"
Knox: "He was upset about it. And that was one of the reasons why he, well, he wrote a memo directing him to go take the physical."
Rather: "I don't understand it."
Knox: "I'm gonna say this. It seems to me that Bush felt that he was above reproof."
Rather: "Marian Carr Knox remembers Lieutenant Bush well, seeing him often as he showed up for weekend training in 1971 and '72."
Knox: "He was always very gentlemanly. And he called me by the name of his father's secretary, and he was always apologizing about that. He couldn't remember my name. But he was very gentlemanly, and I felt that his parents must have been wonderful to have produced somebody as nice as that."
Rather: "Among the contentions, one of the questions raised, one: Did or did not George W. Bush get into the National Guard on the basis of preferential treatment?"
Knox: "I'm going to say that he did. I feel that he did, because there were a lot of other boys in there the same way."
Rather: "Accurate or inaccurate to say that this unit was filled with people who had Republican and Democratic connections who got in on the basis of preference?"
Knox: "At that time, yes."
Rather: "Now, you observed Lieutenant Bush yourself. Tell me about him. What kind of officer was he?"
Knox "Now, Bush seemed to be having a good time. He didn't seem to be having any problem with the other pilots, let me say that. But his time there, it seemed that the other fellows were, I'm going to say this, sort of resentful for, of his attitude."
Rather: "And what was his attitude?"
Knox: "Well, that he really didn't have to go by the rules."
Rather: "He didn't have to go by the rules?"
Knox: "It seemed that way to me."
Rather narrated: "Knox says that her boss, Colonel Jerry Killian, started what she calls a 'cover-your-back' file, a personal file where she stored the memos about the problems with Mr. Bush's performance and his failure to take a physical and the pressure Killian felt from upstairs. She addressed this memo and a reference to retired General Staudt pushing for a positive officer training report on Lieutenant Bush. 'And Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it.' Does that sound like Colonel Killian? Is that the way he felt?"
Knox: "That's absolutely the way he felt about that."
Rather: "And she talked about this memo. She doesn't believe the memo is authentic, but she says the facts behind it are very real. And he did write a memo like this?" [on screen: text of memo: "Discussed options of how Bush can get out of coming to drill from now through November."]
Knox: "Yes."
Rather: "So he did write a memo like this, not this one is your contention, but one like it?"
Knox: "This is like a personal journal. You write things."
Rather: "Was he keeping a personal journal?"
Knox: "More or less that, yes."
Rather: "These memos were not memos that you typed, and you don't, in fact, think they came directly out of his files."
Knox: "The information, yes. It seems that somebody did see those memos and then tried to reproduce and maybe changed them enough so that he wouldn't get in trouble over it."
Rather: "I understand."
Knox: "Could deny it."
Rather: "I understand that."
Knox: "That's all supposition."
Rather: "I understand that. Mrs. Knox says the fact that then-Lieutenant Bush was repeatedly missing drills was not lost on his fellow pilots. Was it common knowledge or not that Lieutenant Bush had not attended some drills?"
Knox: "Well, they missed him. It was sort of gossip around there about, and they'd snicker and so forth about what he was getting away with."
Rather: "Lieutenant Bush was getting away with?"
Knox: "Yeah."
Rather: "They were snickering about that?"
Knox: "Well, the other officers, and I guess there was even a resentment."
Rather: "She told us again and again she believed then-Lieutenant Bush refused a direct order to take a physical. Colonel Killian's son, with whom I have no argument and I respect the Killian family tremendously for the sacrifice that they made and they're, husband and father was serving our military, Colonel Killian's son says that this isn't true."
Knox: "He has no way of knowing whether it's true or not."
Rather: "Mrs. Knox says that for young George Bush in 1972, working in a Senate campaign became more important than flying for the Guard. Back off for a moment. Just take a breath and think a little, and have you tell me what you believe the story is."
Knox: "Well, I think it's plain and simple. Bush didn't think that he had to go by the rules that others did. And he had this campaign to take care of, and that's what he was gonna do, and that's what he did do."
Rather concluded: "A few personal thoughts on this story we've reported tonight. We shall continue to aggressively investigate the story of President Bush's service in the National Guard and the story of the documents and memos in Colonel Killian's file. Are those documents authentic, as experts consulted by CBS News continue to maintain? Or were they forgeries or re-creations, as Marian Carr Knox and others believe? We will keep an open mind, and we will continue to report credible evidence and responsible points of view as we try to answer the questions raised about the authenticity of the documents. Having said that, we do feel it's important to underscore this point: Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of our report, that George Bush received preferential treatment to get into the National Guard, and once accepted, failed to satisfy the requirements of his service. If we uncover any information to the contrary, rest assured we shall report that also."

The 60 Minutes page on CBSNews.com about the segment showcases in large letters this quote from Knox: "I know that I didn't type them. However, the information in those is correct."

For that page, with a video clip of the interview, a picture of Knox and a very rough transcript (ours above is accurate): www.cbsnews.com

CBS Statement Regurgitates Same Lame
Rationalizations, Experts

Conceding that "numerous questions have been raised about the authenticity of the documents," in a two-and-a-half page statement posted Wednesday evening, CBS News maintained that the division "believes it is important for the news media to be accountable and address legitimate questions."

But that's not what the statement did. In the face of several major news outlets reporting that multiple experts they consulted considered the documents to be pretty obvious forgeries, CBS ignored all of them except two CBS had consulted as the network rejected their expert assessments. Otherwise, CBS News delivered little more than a regurgitation of the same lame rationalizations laid out on Monday's CBS Evening News.

CBS News President Andrew Heyward In a CBS Evening News preview of the then-upcoming Wednesday 60 Minutes segment, CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews insisted: "CBS News officials say the documents came from a confidential source, and that they are certain the content of the story is true."
Andrew Heyward, President of CBS News: "We would not have put the report on the air if we did not believe in every aspect of it."
Andrews: "But news President Andrew Heyward also says the network will try to resolve what he calls the 'unresolved issues.'"
Heyward: "Enough questions have been raised that we're going re-double our efforts to answer those questions."
Andrews, with a CBS News control room background, concluded by admitting that "some at this network believe the backlash against the 60 Minutes report is pure politics," but he also noted how "that's the critics' point as well: That fake or real, the fact that 60 Minutes got these documents during an election year was no accident."

Back to the CBS News statement: Addressing how document examiners Emily Will and Linda James told a "competing network," that would be ABC, that they warned CBS ahead of time they doubted the authenticity of the memos, CBS contended they didn't object vociferously enough -- as if that should discredit their contention that the documents were forged. The statement asserted:
"Ms. Will and Ms. James, appeared on a competing network yesterday, where they misrepresented their conversations and communication with CBS News. In fact, they assessed only one of the four documents used in the report, and while one of them raised a question about one aspect of that one document, they did not raise substantial objections or render definitive judgment on the document. Ultimately, they played a peripheral role in the authentication process and deferred to Mr. Matley, who examined all four of the documents used."

For what Will and James told ABC's Brian Ross, see the September 15 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

The statement then went onto tout the expertise of two people with questionable expertise who made a weak case when featured on Monday's CBS Evening News: "Additionally, two more individuals with specific expertise relative to the documents -- Bill Glennon, a technology consultant and long-time IBM typewriter service technician, and Richard Katz, a computer software expert -- were asked to examine the documents after the broadcast for a report in the Sept. 13 CBS EVENING NEWS. They, too, found nothing to lead them to believe that the documents did not date back to the early 1970s. They strongly refuted the claim made by some critics that there were no typewriters in existence in the early 1970s that could have produced such documents."

But, less than an hour after CBS posted this statement, the network broadcast an interview with Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian's secretary, Marian Carr Knox, who stated that the documents were not created by her. She had told the Dallas Morning News that they were not created on one of her typewriters -- thus leaving Glennon's contention as no more than a discredited possibility.

Pete Slover reported in the September 15 Dallas Morning News: "She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time with the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia typewriter and the IBM Selectric that replaced it in the early 1970s." For that article in full: www.dallasnews.com

CBS put out its statement in PDF form along with four other documents: Brief statements from two examiners, only one of whom vouched for the documents, the other just for a signature, and two quotes each from what Katz and Glennon said on Monday's CBS Evening News, claims critiqued in the September 14 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

The PDFs are posted in a gray sidebar at: www.cbsnews.com

Direct address for the statement: www.cbsnews.com

For the supporting statements from the two examiners and two guys on Monday's CBS Evening News:
www.cbsnews.com
www.cbsnews.com
www.cbsnews.com
www.cbsnews.com

Rather Lashes Out at "Partisan Political
Ideological Forces"

"If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story," Dan Rather ludicrously boasted Wednesday night to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz days after virtually every significant news outlet in the nation had "broken" how Rather fell for a hoax. Though Rather insisted to Kurtz that "any time I'm wrong, I want to be right out front and say, 'Folks, this is what went wrong and how it went wrong," in discussions with reporters he's continued to be more interested in impugning those who have raised questions than in admitting his screw-up. A defiant Rather told Kurtz for a Thursday article: "I don't back up. I don't back down. I don't cave when the pressure gets too great from these partisan political ideological forces."

Like Marian Carr Knox who says the documents are forgeries?

Earlier, in a session with Joe Hagan of the New York Observer for a Wednesday story, Rather argued that "powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they can't deny the fundamental truth of the story." Rather also equated the current situation to the "heat" CBS News took "during the McCarthy time."

An excerpt from the September 16 front page Washington Post story, "Rather Concedes Papers Are Suspect: CBS Anchor Urges Media to Focus On Bush Service," by Howard Kurtz:

CBS anchor Dan Rather acknowledged for the first time yesterday that there are serious questions about the authenticity of the documents he used to question President Bush's National Guard record last week on "60 Minutes."

"If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story," Rather said in an interview last night. "Any time I'm wrong, I want to be right out front and say, 'Folks, this is what went wrong and how it went wrong.' "

Rather spoke after interviewing the secretary to Bush's former squadron commander, who told him that the memos attributed to her late boss are fake -- but that they reflect the commander's belief that Bush was receiving preferential treatment to escape some of his Guard commitments.

The former secretary, Marian Carr Knox, is the latest person to raise questions about the "60 Minutes" story, which Rather and top CBS officials still defend while vowing to investigate mounting questions about whether the 30-year-old documents used in the story were part of a hoax. Their shift in tone yesterday came as GOP critics as well as some media commentators demanded that the story be retracted and suggested that Rather should step down....

"I think this is very, very serious," said Bob Schieffer, CBS's chief Washington correspondent. "When Dan tells me these documents are not forgeries, I believe him. But somehow we've got to find a way to show people these documents are not forgeries." Some friends of Rather, whose contract runs until the end of 2006, are discussing whether he might be forced to make an early exit from CBS....

Rather said he was "relieved and pleased" by Knox's comments that the disputed memos reflected Killian's view of the favorable treatment that Bush received in the military unit. But he said, "I take very seriously her belief that the documents are not authentic." If Knox is right, Rather said, the public "won't hear about it from a spokesman. They'll learn it from me."

But he also delivered a message to "our journalistic competitors," including The Washington Post and rival networks: "Instead of asking President Bush and his staff questions about what is true and not true about the president's military service, they ask me questions: 'How do you know this and that about the documents?'"...

Bernard Goldberg, a longtime CBS correspondent who has turned sharply critical of his former employer, said he believes that Rather was duped and will survive. But, he said, "CBS News is acting the way the Nixon administration did during Watergate. I'm really sad to say that Dan Rather is acting like Richard Nixon. It's the coverup, it's the stonewalling."...

As Rather signed off to rush back into the studio last night, he sounded a defiant note.

"I try to look people in the eye and tell them the truth," Rather said. "I don't back up. I don't back down. I don't cave when the pressure gets too great from these partisan political ideological forces."

END of Excerpt

For the September 16 Washington Post article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

An en excerpt from "Dan Rather to Bush: 'Answer the Questions,'" by Joe Hagan in the latest New York Observer, a weekly newspaper:

"With respect: answer the questions," said Dan Rather, the CBS News anchor. He was asking a direct question to President George W. Bush, his re-election campaign and his political allies in the press and on the Web. "We've heard what you have to say about the documents and what you've said and what your surrogates have said, but for the moment, answer the questions.

"I say that with respect," he added. "They'd be a lot stronger in their campaign if they did do that."...

Mr. Rather asserted that the lack of denial was itself evidence of the essential truth of his findings....

"It's never been fully, completely denied by the Bush-Cheney campaign or even the White House that he was suspended for meeting the standards of the Air Force or that he didn't show up for a physical," he said. "The longer we go without a denial of such things-this story is true."

On Friday, Sept. 10, Mr. Rather said on the CBS Evening News that he believed that some of the criticism came from people who were "partisan political operatives," implying that right-wing elements have managed to turn the story into a referendum on the story itself-and thus on Mr. Rather, a longtime target of conservative critics.

Mr. Rather said that the focus on questions over the veracity of the memos was a smoke screen perpetrated by right-wing allies of the Bush administration.

"I think the public, even decent people who may be well-disposed toward President Bush, understand that powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they can't deny the fundamental truth of the story," he said. "If you can't deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, it's change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents.

"This is your basic fogging machine, which is set up to cloud the issue, to obscure the truth," he said....

Mr. Rather said that he was sure that the credibility of CBS News would hold up after the memo scandal had passed.

"I think over the long haul, this will be consistent with our history and our traditions and reputation," he said. "We took heat during the McCarthy time, during Vietnam, during civil rights, during Watergate. We haven't always been right, but our record is damn good."

End of Excerpt

That's online at: observer.com

When no longer current, this Hagan column will be archived at: observer.com

On Vietnam Service, CBS Pounds Republicans
& Excuses Democrats

Dan Rather and CBS News have delivered a "tilted history of coverage of baby-boomer Vietnam service," pounding at Republicans Dan Quayle and George W. Bush, while defending and excusing the records of Democrats Al Gore, Bill Clinton and John Kerry, and "that causes conservatives to roll their eyes when Dan Rather insists that his critics should be scorned as 'partisan political operatives,'" the MRC's Tim Graham observed in a Wednesday piece for National Review Online in which Graham provided a review of CBS's news judgments over the past 16 years.

An excerpt from "Red Flags Over West 57th: CBS has a stilted history of covering presidential candidates and Vietnam," a September 15 National Review Online piece by Graham, Director of Media Analysis at the MRC:

....One of the red flags on this scandal for everyone outside CBS is the network's track record on investigating the military records of other candidates for president. In 2000, CBS had next to zero interest in Al Gore's mysterious history during his brief service in Vietnam, including his discussions with old CBS nemesis Gen. William Westmoreland.

In 1999, Newsweek's Bill Turque found a Gore friend who said Gore "met twice that spring with the former commander of U.S. forces in South Vietnam to discuss Gore's options. Westmoreland guaranteed no cushy deals, according to Gore's friend, but left him with one sweeping assurance: 'I believe he will be watched,' the general said. 'He will be cared for.'" Later, Turque added: "The two met during the general's visit to [Fort] Rucker in 1970, and Gore has intimated over the years that the general encouraged him to go. According to Michael Zibart, a Nashville friend, Gore said that Westmoreland told him he 'would be making a grave error if he didn't serve in Vietnam.'"

CBS made an enormous deal out of Dan Quayle's connections to power in Indiana during the 1988 campaign, and is now putting its reputation on the line about George W. Bush's connections to power in Texas. How did CBS explore Al Gore's going straight to the top of the Vietnam command structure to make connections? They didn't. Put "Gore" and "Westmoreland" into the Nexis file of CBS transcripts, and you get "no documents." When 60 Minutes profiled Gore on December 5, 1999, Lesley Stahl merely mentioned in passing: "Everybody expected him to follow his father's footsteps into politics, but he rebelled. After a tour of duty in Vietnam, he worked for four years as a reporter at the Nashville Tennessean. During that time he also enrolled in Divinity School here at Vanderbilt University." She then asked him about religion.

The main reason for Vietnam mentions in CBS's Gore coverage in 2000 was speculation over whether Gore would select "decorated Vietnam veteran" John Kerry as his running mate. In a Gore biography during the Democratic convention that year, reporter Richard Schlesinger skimmed over the subject: "Gore served five months in Vietnam as a combat journalist. But those who knew him best wondered whether his true motivation was to shield his father from critics during a bitter re-election campaign....It didn't help his father in any case. After 30 years, the senior Gore lost his coveted seat in Washington. To this day, Gore feels his father's opposition to the war led to his defeat."

In 1992, Dan Rather saw nothing but smears when a document emerged on February 12, a letter Bill Clinton wrote to his soon-to-be-forsaken ROTC commander Eugene Holmes that said "thank you...for saving me from the draft." CBS was not happy. "Bill Clinton says President Bush's 1988 Willie Horton crowd is smearing him with new campaign dirty tricks," Dan Rather said over the show's opening music. Later, he repeated: "In the presidential campaign, Democrat Bill Clinton says Bush-Quayle re-election forces are using a smear campaign to constantly raise questions about his past." CBS had the most inaccurate story that night, referring to Clinton's blaming the Republicans for leaking the letter four times, and carrying four accusatory Clinton sound bites. ABC, CNN, and NBC all correctly reported that night that the man who saved the letter, Clinton Jones, had sent the letter to ABC News, not to Republican officials. CBS had the greatest disparity among networks on draft-dodging allegations in the first ten days of the Quayle scandal in 1988 versus the Clinton scandal in 1992 -- 18 stories on Quayle, compared with just two on Clinton.

When the Los Angeles Times revealed on September 2, 1992, that Clinton's Uncle Raymond had finagled a Naval Reserve slot for Clinton, delayed his physical for nearly eleven months, and met with Sen. William Fulbright, Dan Rather's show only aired one perfunctory Evening News story.

Even this year, when 60 Minutes profiled Kerry on January 25, Ed Bradley touted Kerry's medals and brushed over Kerry's wild and unsubstantiated 1971 Senate testimony by noting: "It's still emotional after all these years. Vietnam is something that just doesn't leave you." Kerry said: "It's young people dying young for the wrong reasons, because leaders don't do the things that they should do to protect them." Bradley replied: "Do you see a parallel with Iraq?"

It's this tilted history of coverage of baby-boomer Vietnam service -- pound the Republicans, defend the Democrats -- that causes conservatives to roll their eyes when Dan Rather insists that his critics should be scorned as "partisan political operatives." As if he and his CBS colleagues haven't behaved an awful lot like partisan political operatives themselves, with their "news judgment" over the years.

END of Excerpt

For Graham's treatise in full: www.nationalreview.com

-- Brent Baker