Monday, January 10, 2005

 

The Memogate Analysis, Part 1

I don't think there's any doubt across the blogosphere that I'm the last person on the face of the planet to write a column about the conclusion of the CBS News investigation into Rathergate/Memogate. Frankly, I don't think that's very important. I'm usually not the first person to offer breaking news when something happens in the world, but I do provide some of the best analysis on the web. That fact, alone, is what will keep this CBS/Dan Rather story from being lost in the dust or rumors and conspiracy theories for the rest of documented history.

But I can't take credit for that alone. I've spent some time tonight browsing some of my favorite blogs, checking to see who really took the time to read into this situation, and who was just commenting for the sake of being included Google.com's search for the word "Rather." I agree wholeheartedly with Hugh Hewitt, who took note that bloggers aren't covering this final release with as much zeal as they did with the original scandal that changed the face of news forever. This brings me to my first point, which should help clear up my obvious disdain for this day in blogging.

We, as members of the blogosphere, provide one great resource to the world: A complete dose of opinions and analysis that cover the entire spectrum whenever an important issue is raised. While the AP, Reuters, and other wire services post a story for outlets such as the Los Angeles or New York Times to pickup, we'll take that story and separate the truth from the fiction, and detail it better than your obsessive eight grade teacher who reminded you for an entire nine months about correct paragraph format. What happened today has made me feel a little bit ill toward my bretheren. But, I know that our own system of checks and balances will clear this up by tomorrow morning.

The issue at hand is CBS's falsification of a memo in order to push a political agenda onto the dinner plate of America, demanding they accept it at face value. Luckily, we had great bloggers such as Charles of Little Green Footballs, who noted major inconsistencies in the typeface of the memo, and a plethora of other bloggers who did everything within their power to examine the validity of the memo, including cite checking, date analysis, and background investigating. All in all, it was a job worthy of a command post at my office as a criminal investigator. That was not the case today. When CBS released their report, consisting of an independent panel report, a reaction in the form of a statement from CBS News, and 51 exhibits, the blogosphere ran out to see who could get the scoop on reporting that CBS News had released the report, instead of actually investigating the report.

This, my friends, is where the problem lies.

In a rush to be the next Little Green Footballs, 99% of the people who exposed this scandal for what it is, and what it was, failed to see the whitewashing the CBS News has done in the pages of this 234 page report. Even news aggregate Matt Drudge at the DrudgeReport posted a picture on the front page of his website highlighting where his name is mentioned in the report. At best, CBS News combined the confusing words of corporate lawyers K&LNG : Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP , the crafty copy of public relations liasons, and 51 different exhibits that most people will pass-by, and shoved it across the table, offering it as a plea bargain to allow them to stay in the news market. JimK over at Right-Thoughts had a few choice words about it, as he and Michelle Malkin tied-up any loose end associated with Memogate.

I haven't had a change to read through all 234 pages of the CBS News report --- yet. That's on-deck for Saturday morning, and you can expect a full report detailing what I find to be inconsistencies and outright lies in the indepedent panels findings. The only independent panel I trust is a Grand Jury, and even then it takes at least a week of hard work to do some convincing to get your point across. But, I have had time to dig through the response from CBS News, and I found some parts to be extremely suspicious. Let's take a look:
The Panel finds that the report was "crashed" – rushed onto the air – to beat the perceived competition, and it further says "the fact is that basic journalistic steps were not carried out in a manner consistent with accurate and fair reporting, leading to countless misstatements and omissions." Indeed, there were lapses every step of the way – in the reporting and the vetting of the segment and in the reaction of CBS News in the aftermath of the report.

That throws a big, giant, glowing red flag in the air. I haven't read through the report yet, but as I trace the steps back to September 8th, I remember that Mary Mapes has significant ties to the DNC, and the Memogate scandal was a tool to bring Kerry into light, and hurt President Bush. In terms of this being a rush to air in order to beat the other news networks, we can look to the fact that Mapes was in contact with her source, who was sitting around waiting for her to run it. It wasn't a rush to air, it was a rush to slander.

I'm already looking forward to the weekend, so I can get to this report and tear it limb from limb. I never though an investigation outside of the office would be so much fun.

I don't know how much longer CBS News will host the report, but I've downloaded all parts of it and complied them into one ZIP file. You can download it here (right click + "Save Target As", 25.6MB)

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