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Rather 'Absolutely' Stands by Bush Story 'Truth,' Slams Critics --7/13/2006


1. Rather 'Absolutely' Stands by Bush Story 'Truth,' Slams Critics
Declaring he "absolutely" believes "the truth" of his discredited story based on forged memos, about President Bush's National Guard record, on Wednesday's 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." A bit later, Rather played the martyr. Reminded by King of how Rather's CBS News was called "the liberal network," Rather charged: "They call you names when you insist on being independent." Rather proceeded to insist, clearly talking about himself, that journalists who are "willing to be truly independent, and fiercely independent when called upon, and dedicated to pulling no punches and playing no favorites have become in recent years a bit of an endangered species." Rather charged that "there are...powerful people who say we've got to get rid of this guy or...we're going to damage him up. And that's when they start hanging the signs around you." AUDIO&VIDEO

2. ABC's Gorbasm: He 'Changed the World, Helping End the Cold War'
A fresh "Gorbasm" from ABC -- to signify fawning over the deposed communist dictator. On Wednesday's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer celebrated how "Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian leader who changed the world, helping end the Cold War, sat down to speak with our senior national correspondent Claire Shipman, who's reporting this morning from St. Petersburg." From the site of the G-8 summit, Shipman trumpeted how Gorbachev "dismantled the Cold War with one President Bush and he's wry about his son." But, Shipman relayed, he's "blistering about Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." Through a translator, viewers heard Gorbachev charge: "They're just hoods protecting the interests of the military. Shallow people." Shipman soon admired how "one of the more remarkable things about the time we spent with Gorbachev is that he's so much more straight forward and direct than he used to be." Shipman led an online text version of her story by hailing Gorbachev as responsible for ending the Cold War and taking down the "iron curtain," as if he weren't forced into it by President Reagan.

3. CBS Frets Over Threat to Same-Sex Marriage 'Revolution' in Mass.
Wednesday's CBS Evening News ran a story on same-sex marriage which presumed that once enacted -- "resolved" in the term used by reporter Byron Pitts -- it should not be reversed, as Pitts portrayed the issue through the prism of same-sex marriage advocates upset by a move to pass a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to make it illegal. "The battle has now moved to the only state where it is legal but where," anchor Bob Schieffer cautioned, "if opponents have their way, it won't be for long." Pitts demanded of Kristian Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute: "How did it get to this point? This is liberal Massachusetts. This state resolved this issue two years ago." After Mineau pointed out that unelected judges imposed same-sex marriage, Pitts trumpeted how "advocates had hoped it was the start of another Massachusetts revolution." Pitts twice challenged the views expressed by Mineau, but didn't challenge an advocate of same-sex marriage. Pitts fretted: "For supporters of gay marriage nationwide, this proposed amendment in Massachusetts couldn't come at a worse time. Much of that momentum first generated here a few years ago now seems headed the other way. Nineteen states have already adopted a constitutional ban on gay marriage."


Rather 'Absolutely' Stands by Bush Story
'Truth,' Slams Critics

Declaring he "absolutely" believes "the truth" of his discredited story based on forged memos, about President Bush's National Guard record, on Wednesday's 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


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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."
A bit later, Rather played the martyr. Reminded by King of how Rather's CBS News was called "the liberal network," Rather charged: "They call you names when you insist on being independent." Rather proceeded to insist, clearly talking about himself, that journalists who are "willing to be truly independent, and fiercely independent when called upon, and dedicated to pulling no punches and playing no favorites have become in recent years a


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More See & Hear the Bias

bit of an endangered species." Rather even resurrected how CBS "took on" Senator McCarthy and "led in coverage of the only President in history who resigned as an unindicted co-conspirator in a widespread criminal conspiracy. Now, when you're a reporter involved in those kinds of stories on a regular basis, there are...powerful people who say we've got to get rid of this guy or...we're going to damage him up. And that's when they start hanging the signs around you."

[This item was posted, with video clips, Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The two audio/video clips will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to view the Real or Windows Media video, as well as MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]

The Wednesday CyberAlert item, "Rather: Conservative Critics Tar Me As 'Bomb-Throwing Bolshevik,'" quoted how Rather delivered the same argument Tuesday at the Television Critics Association gathering in Pasadena: www.mrc.org

Rather's Wednesday night attitude, in which he stood by his 2004 story and attributed a nefarious political motive to those who pointed out his own political agenda and inaccurate reporting, also matches the approach he took last September 26 in a National Press Club session with Marvin Kalb. As recounted in the September 27, 2004 MRC CyberAlert, posted with Real and Windows Media video:

In an interview with Marvin Kalb carried live by C-SPAN from the National Press Club, 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." 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. Later, talking about using "courage" as a sign-off in the mid-1980s, Rather rued: "There's part of me, it says, you know, 'damn I wish I hadn't caved, I wish I'd stuck with it.'" That prompted Kalb to ask: "Do you think your network showed courage last fall?" Rather answered by remaining silent for seven seconds.

For the full CyberAlert, with video: www.mrc.org

(Last November, Rather's producer on the story, Mary Mapes, stood by her work. See two November 10 CyberAlert items, both with video: "Mary Mapes: Bush National Guard Report Still 'Is a Good Story," at: www.mrc.org And "'Memogate' Mapes Tells CNN's King She Had No Political Agenda," at: www.mrc.org )

Now, excerpts from two portions of the July 12 Larry King Live interview, in which Rather appeared live in-studio with King from CNN's Los Angeles studio. I corrected the first segment against the closed-captioning and the MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the second.

# From just past 9:30pm EDT:

Larry King: "We're back with an extraordinary broadcaster, an old friend, Dan Rather. You mentioned earlier, I want to go back to it, unkept promises. Like?"
Rather: "Well, I was told that I was going to be a regular correspondent on 60 Minutes. I wasn't. That's an example. There were unkept promises. And I asked several times that the promises be kept, and-"
King: "What'd they tell you?"
Rather: "Well, I was told through third parties, we think we're keeping them. That was part of it. In some cases it was demonstrably true that they weren't keeping it. You know Larry, as I talk about this -- and I want to answer your questions as truthfully as I can, as candidly as I can -- but compared to what news ought to be doing, concentrating on whatever happened to Dan Rather at CBS News, how he left, under what circumstances, and even the story in which I didn't, we didn't do as good a job as I thought we should have done. And I do want to make clear, you've played several times the clip of what I said on the air: That was, first of all, I was playing team. I meant every word of it. In that the, we had a lot, a lot of corroboration, of what we broadcast about President Bush's military record. It wasn't just the documents. But 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."
King: "You're saying that was a fair report, I mean that was -- you believe that report to this day?"
Rather: "Do I believe the truth of the story? Absolutely."
King: "Have you ever thought of entertaining a lawsuit?"
Rather, after silence: "Notice that I pause."
King: "Pregnant pause."
Rather: "I'm not going to talk about that."


# At about 9:53pm EDT:

Larry King: "They called Dan Rather at CBS the liberal network, right?"
Dan Rather: "Well, they call you names when you insist on being independent. Larry, I think it's so important for the public to understand -- it's not important for Dan Rather, not important for people who have made a lot of money and got more credit than they deserve, which I have over the years -- but it's important for the American people to understand that a journalist or journalistic enterprise that's willing to be truly independent, and fiercely independent when called upon, and dedicated to pulling no punches and playing no favorites have become in recent years a bit of an endangered species. And it's not for their sake. It's not for journalists' sake but for the sake of the country you want journalists knocking on doors and saying, '€˜What's going on in there?'
"Now, journalism is a human endeavor, and nobody can do it perfectly. Certainly I didn't do it perfectly. A lot of people think I did it lousily. Maybe I did. And I've got my scars and got my wounds. And yes, people always want to put a sign around you and call you something bad if you refuse to report the news the way they want it reported. I had my difficulties with Lyndon Johnson, with, certainly with Richard Nixon, with President Carter. It's in the nature. If you're an independent-minded journalist, then people who have a highly politically partisan and/or ideological point-of-view, what they come at you with in saying, 'listen, if you don't report the news the way we want you to report it, we're going to make you pay a price, and we'll damage you badly and if we can destroy you we'll destroy you.'
"Now, this is important for the public to understand. And forgive the personal reference if you must, but CBS News has a history. Edward R. Murrow took on Senator McCarthy and what he stood for. He took on with Harvest of Shame in a great documentary about the poor. Then CBS News led with civil rights, led in coverage of the Vietnam War, led in coverage of the only President in history who resigned as an unindicted co-conspirator in a widespread criminal conspiracy. Now, when you're a reporter taking, involved in those kinds of stories on a regular basis, there are people and there are powerful people who say we've got to get rid of this guy or we have to have this guy, we're going to damage him up. And that's when they start hanging the signs around you."


For the MRC's package, "The Dan Rather File: Decades of Liberal Media Bias," go to: www.mrc.org

ABC's Gorbasm: He 'Changed the World,
Helping End the Cold War'

A fresh "Gorbasm" from ABC -- to borrow a term invented by Rush Limbaugh and used as the basis of category for many years in the MRC's annual year-end Best Notable Quotables of the Year awards issues -- to signify fawning over the deposed communist dictator. On Wednesday's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer celebrated how "Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian leader who changed the world, helping end the Cold War, sat down to speak with our senior national correspondent Claire Shipman, who's reporting this morning from St. Petersburg." From the site of the G-8 summit, Shipman trumpeted how Gorbachev "dismantled the Cold War with one President Bush and he's wry about his son." But, Shipman relayed, he's "blistering about Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." Through a translator, viewers heard Gorbachev charge: "They're just hoods protecting the interests of the military. Shallow people." Shipman soon admired how "one of the more remarkable things about the time we spent with Gorbachev is that he's so much more straight forward and direct than he used to be."

Shipman led an online text version of her story by hailing Gorbachev as responsible for ending the Cold War and taking down the "iron curtain," as if he weren't forced into it by President Reagan: "Mikhail Gorbachev is generally regarded as the man who broke down the 'iron curtain' that separated the communist world from the West and thawed the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union." For the entirety of her July 12 posting, "Gorbachev: 'Americans Have a Severe Disease,'" go to: abcnews.go.com

The MRC's Brian Boyd caught the story aired in the 7am half hour of the July 12 Good Morning America.

Dane Sawyer: "Coming up now, as we said, the President is heading for a meeting with world leaders in Russia. And Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian leader who changed the world, helping end the Cold War, sat down to speak with our senior national correspondent Claire Shipman, who's reporting this morning from St. Petersburg, Claire."

Claire Shipman: "Diane, good morning. There has been huge tension in the U.S./Russia relationship lately, mainly because the United States is pursuing a new diplomatic strategy trying to keep the larger strategic partnership intact while publicly criticizing the reversal of democracy that's been going on here in Russia. Now, we found that Mikhail Gorbachev, who is still politically involved, had some strong views on the subject."
Shipman began her taped piece: "On a recent rainy afternoon we caught up with the man who paved the way for this weekend's historic meeting. Though friendly as ever, the former Soviet leader had a warning for his Western friends about recent attacks on the state of democracy in Russia."
Mikhail Gorbachev, through a translator: "We have made some mistakes. So what? Please don't put even more obstacles in our way. Do you really think you are smarter than we are?"
Shipman: "And to questions about whether Russia is off course in its quest for democracy, he accuses Americans of arrogance."
Gorbachev, through translator: "Americans have a severe disease, worst than AIDS. It's called the winner's complex. You want an American style democracy here, that will not work."
Shipman: "He dismantled the Cold War with one President Bush and he's wry about his son."
Gorbachev, through translator: "He is very determined. You can't say he doesn't have character."
Shipman: "But blistering about Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld."
Gorbachev, through translator: "They're just hoods protecting the interests of the military. Shallow people."
Shipman: "Mikhail Gorbachev is a regular Kremlin critic too these days but also a regular visitor. Vladimir Putin under fire at home for authoritarian tactics often seeks advice on sensitive issues."
Gorbachev, through translator: "I told him I didn't understand why he had cancelled state elections. There is no glasnost, no elections here like there used to be in '89 and '90."
Shipman: "Out of office for 15 years and not always popular, Gorbachev's reputation is finally improving at home and he clearly likes the role of active senior statesman, he's just bought a controlling interest in an opposition newspaper. As a few interns gather for photographs, we wonder whether he's wistful about his days in power."
Gorbachev, through translator: "I'm 75 years old. Enough is enough."
Shipman: "Ultimately, despite the criticism Gorbachev is a Putin supporter. He's impressed by his ability to create stability out of chaos."
Gorbachev, through translator: "Vladimir Putin is walking on the razor's edge."
Shipman: "Is he a democrat though, we asked."
Gorbachev, through translator: "Putin has used and he will continue to use authoritarian measures, but Russia will form a democracy. I know Vladimir Putin. He's a moral person."
Shipman, over color newspaper picture of Gorbachev with his daughters: "In his office on this day, he's consumed with another even more compelling subject. A story about his two grown granddaughters. That for him is where the political becomes extremely personal."
Gorbachev, through translator: "I want my grandchildren to live in a democratic country, in a peaceful world, but it's hard to imagine this because there are so many answers we still need to find."
Shipman, back live: "Now, one of the more remarkable things about the time we spent with Gorbachev is that he's so much more straight forward and direct than he used to be. I've done a number of interviews with him over the years, and he's had a notoriously circular and long-winded way of speaking. But, I suppose, Bill, that when you're not running the show, it's a little easier to be blunt."

CBS Frets Over Threat to Same-Sex Marriage
'Revolution' in Mass.

Wednesday's CBS Evening News ran a story on same-sex marriage which presumed that once enacted -- "resolved" in the term used by reporter Byron Pitts -- it should not be reversed, as Pitts portrayed the issue through the prism of same-sex marriage advocates upset by a move to pass a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to make it illegal. "The battle has now moved to the only state where it is legal but where," anchor Bob Schieffer cautioned, "if opponents have their way, it won't be for long." Pitts demanded of Kristian Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute: "How did it get to this point? This is liberal Massachusetts. This state resolved this issue two years ago." After Mineau pointed out that unelected judges imposed same-sex marriage, Pitts trumpeted how "advocates had hoped it was the start of another Massachusetts revolution."

Pitts twice challenged the views expressed by Mineau, but didn't challenge an advocate of same-sex marriage. For instance, when Mineau complained about how "the children of this commonwealth are already radically affected because kindergarten and first-graders that are being indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle and into homosexual marriage," an appalled Pitts retorted: "You say that as if homosexuality is something evil." Over a map of the U.S., Pitts fretted: "For supporters of gay marriage nationwide, this proposed amendment in Massachusetts couldn't come at a worse time. Much of that momentum first generated here a few years ago now seems headed the other way. Nineteen states have already adopted a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Six more could have it on their ballot this November."

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video of the July 12 CBS Evening News story:

Anchor Bob Schieffer: "Congress failed this year to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. The battle has now moved to the only state where it is legal but where, if opponents have their way, it won't be for long. From Boston tonight, here's national correspondent Byron Pitts."

Byron Pitts, over video of protesters holding signs: "For believers on both sides, today was a day of protest. It's all about their constitution and the fight to overturn gay marriage in Massachusetts. Kris Mineau is leading that fight."
Pitts to Mineau: "How did it get to this point? This is liberal Massachusetts. This state resolved this issue two years ago."
Kristian Mineau, Massachusetts Family Institute: "No, I would beg to differ on that. It wasn't resolved. That's just the issue. It was done by judicial fiat, by four unelected judges who we feel just arbitrarily decided to change the definition of marriage."
Pitts: "Since that court ruling, some 8,000 gay and lesbian couples here have exchanged wedding vows, legally married. Advocates had hoped it was the start of another Massachusetts revolution."
Marc Solomon, MassEquality Campaign: "At stake is marriage equality."
Pitts: "Marc Solomon and his group, Massequality, have flooded state lawmakers with petitions to keep gay marriage legal."
Solomon: "At stake is not adding discrimination to the constitution of Massachusetts."
Pitts: "Mineau says the 170,000 people who signed his petition would disagree."
Mineau: "And the children of this commonwealth are already radically affected because kindergarten and first-graders that are being indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle and into homosexual marriage."
Pitts to Mineau: "You say that as if homosexuality is something evil."
Mineau: "Homosexuality is not the best standard for human sexuality."
Pitts, from in front of the Massachusetts State House as a "Duck" (tour vehicle for road and water) rolled by, followed by a map showing the anti-same-sex marriage status in many states: "For supporters of gay marriage nationwide, this proposed amendment in Massachusetts couldn't come at a worse time. Much of that momentum first generated here a few years ago now seems headed the other way. Nineteen states have already adopted a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Six more could have it on their ballot this November."
Solomon: "People's fundamental rights should never be voted on. If people's fundamental rights were voted on, where would African-Americans in the South be today? Where would religious minorities be today? Where would women be today?"
Pitts to Mineau: "So for those who say gay marriage is here to stay in the commonwealth, you say?"
Mineau: "Let's vote on it."
Pitts concluded: "And the campaigns have begun. If passed, the proposed amendment would be voted on Election Day, 2008. Byron Pitts, CBS News, Boston."

-- Brent Baker