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Rather's Lawsuit Reveals Embarrassing Fact About CBS: CBS Was Fair in Picking Panelists for Its Outside Investigation of Rather.

The New York Times has a story on Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS with the shocking revelation that the names of some potential outside investigators were vetted with Republicans. This was an (apparently scandalous) attempt both to be fair and to be seen as being fair.

If Rather's CBS group treated Republicans unfairly in its story, and if CBS wanted Republicans to think that their outside investigation fairly examined their complaints, then it would have been irresponsible for CBS NOT to have picked at least one committee member who would be seen by Republicans as ensuring a fair investigation of their complaints.

In other words, in its investigation of Rather's fraudulent report, CBS did not want to repeat the error that led to Rather's mistake -- relying on an ideologically monolithic, left-leaning investigative team.

I read the CBS outside report when it came out. I thought they bent over backwards to be fair and generous to the Rather team.

The only even marginally embarrassing revelation in today's New York Times story is this one sentence:

Other documents, meanwhile, suggest that Ms. Mason, who reported to Mr. Heyward [at CBS], was getting updates from panel investigators on some of their findings, at a point when CBS News was telling outsiders that the network was staying out of the investigation.

huskerfan:
Well, considering the excellent investigative skills of Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter, you certainly proved your point on this piece professor. Just to be fair, they were on the ticket for the investigation as the story points out, right?
11.17.2008 8:22pm
Matthewccr (mail):
Can we get that feature where readers can get RSS feeds for specific authors? Namely Orin and Eugene?
11.17.2008 8:26pm
Having a great time:
I enjoyed this post and agree that news departments are likely to be ideologically monolithic.

Can we get that feature where readers can get RSS feeds for specific commenters? Namely everyone but Matthewccr?
11.17.2008 8:29pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
only a right winger could think that putting two GOP hacks in charge of looking into the Killian memos controversy is how you achieve "impartiality" (and yeah, Boccardi is a Republican too -- and wasn't an actual journalists, rather he was the CEO of Associated Press who had little or no editorial responsibilities)

The reality is that, in terms of how the news media operates, the infractions of Mapes and Rather were minor (and Rather's were actually non-existent, other than defending the report). The Killian memos merely confirmed what Mapes already knew -- they were the "sizzle" used to make the story of Bush's dereliction of duty TV-friendly, but there was more than enough "meat" to back up that sizzle.
11.17.2008 8:34pm
LM (mail):
Matthewccr:

Can we get that feature where readers can get RSS feeds for specific authors? Namely Orin and Eugene?

Manners much?
11.17.2008 8:44pm
LM (mail):
The relevant question here isn't whether it was prudent for CBS to take measures to provide political diversity in its review panel. The question is whether allowing itself to pursue that public relations concern compromised its review and treatment of Rather as an employee.
11.17.2008 8:52pm
TyWebb:
Hey everyone, Jim Lindgren is back! Only took two weeks for him to lick his wounds, put way his Sarah Palin Rocks t-shirt, and come to grips with the Weather Underground's Official President-Elect!
11.17.2008 8:54pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
Lindgren makes an entirely reasonable point. If you extrapolate, this must surely mean that he believes that the Bush administration should have permitted-nay, invited!-Democratic members of Congress to vet investigators of the various Bush administration scandals. Surely Democrats would have nothing in mind but a "fair" investigation of their complaints, right?
11.17.2008 8:58pm
pete (mail) (www):

The Killian memos merely confirmed what Mapes already knew -- they were the "sizzle" used to make the story of Bush's dereliction of duty


Except that there has never been any proof that Bush was derelict. Lots of hearsay and confident assertions by people who dislike that they are sure they know Bush was derelict, but never anything concrete.

That is why the Killian memos were such a big deal. There was finally a conclusive paper trail from one of Bush's superiors that Bush did something wrong and who was conveniently dead and unable to deny that he had written them. And that is why Rather and Mapes were so desperate to hide the fact that their confidential source for this proof was someone who had no access to the papers in question and who had spent time in a mental instution and who had written the notes up on Microsoft Word.
11.17.2008 9:00pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Lukasiak.


"meat" requires evidence, which is different from assertions.

Had evidence been available, forgeries would not have been necessary.
11.17.2008 9:03pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Except that there has never been any proof that Bush was derelict.

you're dead wrong. (warning...only readable with Internet explorer)

I spent the better part of four months examining Bush's military records from within the context of the contemporaneous statutory laws, federal regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures. There is simply no question that Bush failed to fulfill his obligations as defined under Federal law, and under the contract he signed when joining the Air National Guard.

I don't really expect you to read the tens of thousands of words (and supporting documentation, including entire chapters of relevant Air Force policy and procedure manuals) -- the best (albeit, flawed) overall summary of my work can be found on Salon.com as part of this article
11.17.2008 9:11pm
Nunzio:
The story says Rather has already spent $2 million in legal fees. I'm sure CBS has spent more.

They both are looking foolish here, but the lawyers are making good money. That's why I left the news business to become a lawyer.
11.17.2008 9:12pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Had evidence been available, forgeries would not have been necessary.

Richard, the evidence was available -- one of the reasons why Mapes had so much confidence in the Killian memos was because they merely confirmed what could be determined from Bush's own records and an understanding of Killian's own character (everyone who knew him said he was a 'straight arrow' who did his best to do his job while minimizing his involvement with the political corruption that was endemic in the Texas Air National Guard at that time.)
11.17.2008 9:16pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
Let's put the shoe on the other foot. Had Fox been investigated for airing some of the false insinuations of the "Swift Boat" campaign, liberals would have been screaming their heads off if Fox didn't appoint liberals to the panel. And they would be right to do so.
11.17.2008 9:17pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The Killian memos merely confirmed what Mapes already knew -- they were the "sizzle" used to make the story of Bush's dereliction of duty TV-friendly, but there was more than enough "meat" to back up that sizzle."

The Killian memos were the only meat the story ever had. That's why it was such a big deal. When they went up in flames so did the hopes and dreams of millions.
11.17.2008 9:25pm
pete (mail) (www):

I don't really expect you to read the tens of thousands of words (and supporting documentation, including entire chapters of relevant Air Force policy and procedure manuals) -- the best (albeit, flawed)


That is a realistic expectation as I have no desire to read anything from Salon (which earlier has posted conspiracy theories about Bush wearing a wire in one of the presidential debates and has called for the overthrow of the government because they did not like the 2004 elections).

I think you posted to the wrong thread. The current "conspiracy" thread on the volokh conspiracy is over here about tax protestors. I am not sure whether Killian had gold fringes on the flag in his office or not, but all I have ever seen from liberals on the Bush natioanl guard issue is a lot of hoping and innuendo and no concrete proof aside from the fake memos along with lots of demands that Bush disprove a negative.

I hope conservatives do not get this obsessed about Obama's birth certificate or other conspiracy theories about him because it is a big waste of time.

It really is time to move on.
11.17.2008 9:32pm
Ugh (mail):
along with lots of demands that Bush disprove a negative.

Well that should be no problem then.
11.17.2008 9:36pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
paul lukasiak,

[O]ne of the reasons why Mapes had so much confidence in the Killian memos was because they merely confirmed what could be determined from Bush's own records and an understanding of Killian's own character (everyone who knew him said he was a 'straight arrow' who did his best to do his job while minimizing his involvement with the political corruption that was endemic in the Texas Air National Guard at that time.)

So documents that said what they "should" say automatically became plausible, despite their bizarre provenance and despite visual incongruities that were obvious to dozens of people the moment the segment was aired? It occurred to no one that someone might have mocked up documents precisely to fit the going narrative? Jeez, academics are supposed to be innocent as lambs, but if a scholar with an axe to grind about, say, minor medieval personage X's birth date came up with a hitherto unseen baptismal record supporting the date she'd argued all along, you would expect a little more searching scrutiny.
11.17.2008 9:36pm
SSFC (www):

"Getting through discovery and getting a case significantly closer to trial, in and of itself, is an achievement," Mr. Book said. "Discovery, besides being expensive and time-consuming, can lead to embarrassing disclosures."


Steinberg had to call a lawyer to say that? Even though he's reporting on journalistic ethics, I think he could have gotten away with an unsourced "some say" attribution for this insight.
11.17.2008 9:41pm
anon345 (mail):
Wow. I didn't realize that Professor Lindgren's dive into insanity was going to continue past the election.
11.17.2008 9:58pm
ChuckC (mail):
"The only even marginally embarrassing revelation in today's New York Times story is this one sentence:


Other documents, meanwhile, suggest that Ms. Mason, who reported to Mr. Heyward [at CBS], was getting updates from panel investigators on some of their findings, at a point when CBS News was telling outsiders that the network was staying out of the investigation.



I'm glad to see that the NYT slanted this enough to make it "marginally embarrassing"

"Staying out of the investigation" and "getting updates about the findings of the investigation" are not mutually exclusive.
11.17.2008 10:01pm
tsotha:
I don't see why getting information from the investigation while it was ongoing is embarrassing to CBS. When they said they were staying out of it, I always took that to mean they weren't trying to influence the direction the investigation took. Since they couldn't do damage control without information, I always just assumed they were privy to the facts as they unfolded.

lukasiac, you shouldn't spin like that. You'll get dizzy. If there were actually documents supporting "Bush is derelict" they certainly would have been used instead of forgeries. I'm not surprised you spent four months reading documents and discovered what you expected to find.

Let me propose an alternate scenario. Mapes and Rather, who have almost certainly both used manual typewriters, spotted the forgery immediately. But since they really, really, really didn't want Bush to win the election, they pretended not to notice, figuring by the time anyone noticed the documents were fake Kerry would have already have been safely elected president. Oh, we were fooled! So sorry, but what can we do? Kerry has already been elected.
11.17.2008 10:04pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
There is simply no question that Bush failed to fulfill his obligations as defined under Federal law, and under the contract he signed when joining the Air National Guard.
Even if that's true, why would I care? People also said that John Kerry and a lot of others did not complete their obligations. Does this somehow justify Rather trying to make a news story out of forged letters?
11.17.2008 10:04pm
Norman Bates (mail):
lukasiac; Should that be spelled maniac? Perhaps you'd better move on. Maybe you could work out a detailed analysis of Obama's birth records proving that he is an alien. But I'm really quite happy to see the Rather continue to drag on. It provides incontrovertible evidence of the nearly fanatical bias of many elements in the MSM. Additional evidence, if desired, may be found by reading maniac's (lukasiac's?) paranoid maunderings.
11.17.2008 10:16pm
Sagar:
Lukasiac,

instead of your lengthy explanation, just use the short phrase "fake but accurate" to defend your position.
11.17.2008 10:31pm
John Moore (www):
The issue of Bush "fulfilling" his obligations was a great distraction that allowed the media to avoid looking closely at Kerry's record (esp as an anti-Vietnam radical activist while being an officer in the USNR).

The huge scandal about Bush and his service was especially remarkable given that the same press paid no attention to it in 2000 (the same information was available), and in 1992 and 1996 they simply ignored Clinton's draft dodging.

I was in the reserves after my active duty service. No records exist of my service at one squadron, because they lost them. The reserves were sort of neglected during the Vietnam Years.

Furthermore, after the bad maintenance on aircrat almost killed me (3 fires in one plane in one day, two in-flight, all with me on-board), I decided I'd had enough and simply asked to be let out (I also had 2 jobs and was a full time undergraduate).

Guess what... they just had me sign a form and off I went. I never served my full obligation. That was hardly unusual.

A few years later I received my discharge (the same year Kerry *should* have received one - he actually got one 6 years later for reasons never explained or investigated by the press so fascinated with Bush's guard duty).

The media bias in 2004 was horrendous. The digging into Bush's National Guard records is similar to the trashing of Palin.
11.17.2008 10:41pm
Blue:
Mr. Lukasiak I've just wasted 20 minutes of my life examining your "evidence."

It's a web of assertions, suppositions, and innuendo that would make the most devout Holocaust Denier proud.
11.17.2008 10:44pm
John Moore (www):
Another amazing bit of media bias was that against the Swift Boat vets.

I was an activist along side the swifties (parallel organization) and know John O'Neill. They were NOT a "Karl Rove" operation, as was widely reported. They were non-partisan (the same is not true of some contributors).

There was good data to back up their accusations, most of which was badly mis-reported. I have a copy of an affidavit that led to a completely bogus "swift-boater recants" national story.

The swifties held their first national press conference before Kerry was the nominee, because they wanted him out but wanted the Dems to have time to pick anothe candidate. That news conference was historical: all but 2 of Kerry's commanders (and their commanders up to CincPac) proclaimed him unqualified to be CIC. This remarkable event was panned by the media, even though all major news organizations were present. Notably, Dan Rather had one of the few stories about that press conference - a story for which the term "propaganda" is too mild.

O'Neill's book was number 1 on the NYT non-fiction best seller list for weeks before the NYT even wrote a story about it.

The ads run by swifties ran were an attempt to break through the "iron curtain" of the mainstream media with something they could not ignore. It worked, and worked well.

Anyone interested in John O'Neill's analysis of the whole effort should listen to the my interview (or the excerpts).

Scott Swett, a crucial insider in the swiftie movement, wrote a history of the movement you can find here or at Amazon..
11.17.2008 10:47pm
David Warner:
Is there some kind of tripwire that immediately alerts the KosKidz that Lindgren has made a post so they can begin the drive-by shamespam?

PL,

"I spent the better part of four months examining Bush's military records"

And I'm supposed to blindly trust someone who thinks this is a productive use of his time why?
11.17.2008 10:51pm
John Moore (www):
I wanted to add a couple of comments about Bush's service.

He served more active duty time than a draftee. The aircraft he flew was one of the most dangerous in the world, with no ability for the pilot to survive an engine failure during landing or takeoff.

Bush flew armed combat missions (US air defense), probably with nuclear AA missiles (normal practice, but we don't know if he flew with them). Bush put his life at risk for his country, regardless of whether he served precisely his contracted amount (which, as I pointed out earlier, was not a big deal in those circumstances). My best friend likewise served in the neighboring New Mexico Air Guard. Sadly, he did not survive. As a Naval aviator, I am very aware of the risks those fighter pilots took, EVERY time they strapped on an aircraft.
11.17.2008 10:53pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Is there some kind of tripwire that immediately alerts the KosKidz that Lindgren has made a post so they can begin the drive-by shamespam?


Believe it or not, not everyone who reads this blog is on the conservative side of the aisle.
11.17.2008 10:58pm
stombs (mail):
"The Killian memos merely confirmed what Mapes already knew -- they were the "sizzle" used to make the story of Bush's dereliction of duty TV-friendly, but there was more than enough "meat" to back up that sizzle."

I have to wonder how many libs would accept this argument in any other context. E.g., a prosecutor is absolutely certain that the accused is guilty, but he has no actual evidence to present to a jury. Surely it would be OK for him to prepare some fake but accurate evidence -- for the greater good.

Face it: Rather and Mapes disgraced their profession. Whether it was the result of malice or stupidity hardly matters now. Even if the old fossil doesn't have the sense to stop digging, it's past time to stop enabling him.
11.17.2008 11:00pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
In the olden days when this was actually news, there was speculation that it was a Rove plant. Is there anything that man can't do?
Problem is, for that to work, Rove would have had to be absolutely certain that the press, specifically Rather and CBS, were as corrupt as a month-old whale carcass. And, not only be certain, be right.
So, he was and he was, which says what about CBS?

Problem for the MSM is that few people think the other two of the Big Three would have turned it down or failed to use it as Rather did.
11.17.2008 11:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Lukasiak:

Your link looks like the typical crank letter that companies get all the time. The primary characteristics are: 1. excessive and unnecessary detail; 2. Unnecessary precision; 3. gratuitous use of quotes; 4. inflammatory language; 5. paranoid in tone.

If you want to be taken seriously then write a short concise, factually based narrative that has a coherent argument. Who wants to wade through that mess of clutter. As Calvin Coolidge once said to the Massachusetts legislature: "... and be brief; above all be brief."
11.18.2008 12:41am
David Warner:
Xant,

"Believe it or not, not everyone who reads this blog is on the conservative side of the aisle."

I very much believe it. I'm one of those who are not, as are not most of my favorite commenters. I can't help but notice a difference between the names of said drive-bys and said commenters, however. Not to mention tone, common decency, etc...

BTW, the aisle has more than two sides, or rather the spectrum is of dimension greater than one.
11.18.2008 1:20am
Bill Kilgore:
I spent the better part of four months examining Bush's military records

I love the smell of tinfoil in the morning.

What exactly is Rather trying to prove? Is he honestly asserting that his conduct was appropriate? Is his surname lukasiak? Couldn't Judge Joe Brown wrap this up in the first-half of Thursday's episode?
11.18.2008 3:20am
paul lukasiak (mail):
I have to wonder how many libs would accept this argument in any other context. E.g., a prosecutor is absolutely certain that the accused is guilty, but he has no actual evidence to present to a jury. Surely it would be OK for him to prepare some fake but accurate evidence -- for the greater good.

Again, CBS had more than enough evidence to present to back up the claim of Bush's dereliction -- the proper analogy here is to the prosecutor who knows he has a good case, and mistakenly uses a witness whose credibility can be shredded to the point where the jury no longer believes the prosecutor (see the OJ trial for an example of how a bad witness can destroy an otherwise airtight case.)

Your link looks like the typical crank letter that companies get all the time. The primary characteristics are: 1. excessive and unnecessary detail; 2. Unnecessary precision; 3. gratuitous use of quotes; 4. inflammatory language; 5. paranoid in tone.

The reason why the information is so detailed, precise, and full of quotes is because I set out to determine what the facts were -- and a detailed and precise understanding of Bush's records within their historical context is necessary to ascertain those facts.

But here's the short version -- Bush was required to train 48 times per year with his unit (or perform substitute training), and could be excused by his commanders for missing no more than 10% (i.e. he could miss no more than 4 training periods) of that required training in any given fiscal year. In two consecutive years, he failed to meet that training requirement... failing to show up (or make up for) for 8 training periods in FY 71-72, and 12 training periods in FY 72-73.

He was also required to train within, and maintain his competency in, his assigned position. From May 1972 on, he never trained within his position, and failed to maintain his competence as a pilot (pilots were not only required to attend the 48 training periods with their units, they were also required to perform additional "flight training periods" as individuals to maintain their skills -- Bush never flew after May 1972.

In terms of substitute training for missed training periods, those had to be accomplished within a specific, limited time frame, and most of the training he supposedly did in Alabama fell outside the specific time frames, and was ineligible to be credited for training regardless.

But don't take my word for it, news organizations as various as the Boston Globe, the Associated Press, US News, and the Los Angeles Times all did their own investigations (some of it based on my research) and drew the same conclusions.

Wingnuts tend to disbelieve the facts because they've been presented with lies that are more consistent with their biases. For instance, every defense of Bush's entry into the guard includes the supposed fact that "there was no waiting list for pilots" -- a COMPLETE irrelevancy, because the waiting lists for those who wanted to enlist in the Air National Guard were NOT position based -- there was just ONE list per state and once you were admitted, then you got assigned to a position. That is how the waiting list worked, and those who talk about "waiting lists for pilots" are at best ignorant, and at worst liars.
11.18.2008 5:56am
Anon1111:
Clearly Mr. Lukasiak has never been in the reserves, or he would know how silly he sounds. Drilling reservists (members of the selected reserve or members of a National Guard) complete their "weekend a month" over the course of a fiscal year, comprising 24 drill days, and 48 drill periods, two per day. An individual may take 2 days (four periods) of authorized absences without question, and take as many other authorized absences as the CO allows. They may also take (usually) another 5 days (10 periods) of unauthorized absences before any consequences accrue, and so long as each reservist maintains a good year (50 drill points, awarded at a rate of one per period, plus one per day on active duty (AT, ADT, etc.), plus points for coursework done at home), no one in Big Army, or Big Navy, or Big Air Force gives a damn. None of your hyperventilating evidence shows Bush missing anything like this amount of time.

The penalty for too many drill days is to be dropped to the IRR (Inactive Ready Reserve), where you do NOT drill, do not make any money, and only have to be standing around waiting for a war to happen.

Even if the worst of your evidence is true, you are saying that Bush missed TWO weekends worth or drill in a year. Big frigging whup.

Oh, by the way, officers do not enlist. They are commissioned. IF you want to be an expert, get that right.
11.18.2008 7:37am
PersonFromPorlock:
John Moore:

Bush flew armed combat missions (US air defense), probably with nuclear AA missiles....

I appreciate your point, but having flown nuclear-armed airborn alerts myself (on B-52s), and having been shot at over Hanoi, I believe I can state with some authority that "combat missions" somewhat overstates the former situation.
11.18.2008 7:46am
rarango (mail):
Isnt it time to, ahem, move on in re Bush and National Guard service?
11.18.2008 9:00am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Clearly Mr. Lukasiak has never been in the reserves, or he would know how silly he sounds. Drilling reservists (members of the selected reserve or members of a National Guard) complete their "weekend a month" over the course of a fiscal year, comprising 24 drill days, and 48 drill periods, two per day. An individual may take 2 days (four periods) of authorized absences without question, and take as many other authorized absences as the CO allows.

I don't know if anon is full of crap, or just unaware of what the regulations were back in the early seventies, but the fact is that in the early seventies, FEDERAL REGULATIONS required that reservists miss no more than 10% of required drills-- PERIOD. see CFR Title 32 Sec. 100 (specifically sections and CFR Title 32 Sec. 101 or you can just read the relevant portions here...

The penalty for too many drill days is to be dropped to the IRR (Inactive Ready Reserve), where you do NOT drill, do not make any money, and only have to be standing around waiting for a war to happen.

Now I know that Anon is full of shit, because there was no such thing as an "Inactive Ready Reserve" in the Air Reserve Forces. Moreover, Anon is full of shit because Bush had not completely his six year military service obligation, and the PENALTIES for those who failed to live up to their obligations were completely different from what those who had completely their MSO were subject to. (again, see the links above to understand the rules to which bush was subject back in 1972.)
11.18.2008 9:07am
JohnCK (mail):
There is no reason to agrue about this any more. A certain precentage of people in this country are just insane when it comes to Bush. They have far too much of their personal identity and egos wrapped up in their irrational hatred of the man to ever look at any issue involving him reasonably. To admit that Bush is anything but evil or that any allegation about him is wrong would be to admit that maybe they are not as smart as they think they are. Since they know they are as smart as they think they are, such an admission is impossible regardless of the facts.

At this point it doesn't really matter. The facts are what they are and history will be the judge. The only thing that bothers me is the thought that the lunatics who can't be reasonable in their dislike of Bush will transfer it into an equally unreasonable love of Obama. At that point they will go from being annoying to downright dangerous.
11.18.2008 9:10am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Oh, by the way, officers do not enlist. They are commissioned. IF you want to be an expert, get that right.

if you had the first clue what you were talking about, you would know that Bush enlisted in the Air National Guard in May 1968, and was not commissioned as an officer until late 1969
11.18.2008 9:15am
Sarcastro (www):
JohnCK is right. Liberals are just crazy when it comes to Bush. Conservatives never believe any politician is evil, whether it by that commie Obama or those Vince-Foster killing Clintons.

That is why you should never argue on the internet.
11.18.2008 9:17am
paul lukasiak (mail):
At this point it doesn't really matter. The facts are what they are and history will be the judge. The only thing that bothers me is the thought that the lunatics who can't be reasonable in their dislike of Bush will transfer it into an equally unreasonable love of Obama.

this is about the facts concerning Bush's years in the military. I spend as much time disabusing "liberals" of myths concerning Bush's service as I do dealing with those on the right who are equally clueless. (For instance, its not difficult to find liberals who claim that Bush was "punished" by keeping him in the Guard until November 1974 rather than releasing him in May of 1974. The fact is that all Air Force (including Air Reserve) officers were required to remain on the ISLRS (Inactive Status List Reserve Section) for at least six months after exiting the service. Basically, this was just literally a list of former members of the Air Force that could be called up and reactivated in the event of a national emergency should congress authorize it. And I've had to explain that to people over and over again.)
11.18.2008 9:26am
Houston Lawyer:
While we are talking about irrelevencies here, just what is the status of John Kerry's release of his military records?
11.18.2008 9:32am
dude:
Paul Lukasiak wrote, "I spent the better part of four months examining Bush's military records."

David Warner replies, "And I'm supposed to blindly trust someone who thinks this is a productive use of his time why?"

Exactly.

I would also question whether there was any realistic chance that, after spending four months searching, someone who thought such a partisan pursuit worthwhile in the first place would just say, "Darn, I've got nothing" and leave it at that.
11.18.2008 9:37am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Houston.
You mean-spirited, paranoid, McCarthyite ideologue.
11.18.2008 9:38am
Glocksman:
Let's put the shoe on the other foot. Had Fox been investigated for airing some of the false insinuations of the "Swift Boat" campaign, liberals would have been screaming their heads off if Fox didn't appoint liberals to the panel. And they would be right to do so.


Self examination isn't Fox News's style.

That said, my problem with this tidbit isn't the fact that CBS wanted to involve conservatives in the investigation for balance, but that they considered dishonest hacks such as Limbaugh and Coulter as suitable candidates.

In other words, Bill Buckley would have been OK.
Rush Limbaugh, not so much.

To use the Fox News hypothetical, it'd be like ignoring Russell Feingold in favor of Randi Rhodes.
11.18.2008 9:40am
Sarcastro (www):
Also Obama's birth certificate!

And that grassy nole guy!
11.18.2008 9:40am
paul lukasiak (mail):
I would also question whether there was any realistic chance that, after spending four months searching, someone who thought such a partisan pursuit worthwhile in the first place would just say, "Darn, I've got nothing" and leave it at that.

the reason I wound up spending four months was because I "had something". I never planned on spending that much time on the subject -- instead, I started out trying to answer a fairly simple question (why is there a difference between "total points" and "points toward retirement" on this document?) and realized that the only way to figure that out was to find the relevant contemporaneous laws and policies. Find the specific rule was extremely difficult -- but in the process of researching the contemporaneous rules, I discovered that people like Albert Lloyd were flat out lying about what Bush was required to do -- and that it appeared that Bush had not fulfilled his obligations -- but because I wanted to make absolutely certain that I was right, I wound up spending four months comparing the records to the contemporaneous laws and policies.

The irony, of course, is that the very fact that I went to such lengths to be thoroughness and intellectual honest is somehow "proof" that I'm unreliable. It takes a truly closed mind to say "well, he spent a lot of time examining this in an effort to fully understand it, therefore he can't be trusted."
11.18.2008 10:14am
dude:

The irony, of course, is that the very fact that I went to such lengths to be thoroughness and intellectual honest is somehow "proof" that I'm unreliable. It takes a truly closed mind to say "well, he spent a lot of time examining this in an effort to fully understand it, therefore he can't be trusted."


Oh brother, Paul, the only people who spend such an inordinate amount of time on such trivial subjects are amped-up partisans playing a silly "gotcha" game. The fact that forged documents surfaced simply reinforces how vested some people were/are in pushing their Bush claims. If I told you that I spent the better part of four months looking into whether Bill Clinton did in fact inhale, would you treat me as an honest, thorough investigator and ask me what I found?
11.18.2008 10:51am
Dan Weber (www):
Let's assume that Bush really didn't complete his requirements. (I have my suspicions about whether he did or didn't, but they don't matter for now.)

Mapes and Rather and 60 Minutes still deserve the journalistic death penalty for 1) not having someone in their news organization who could recognize "holy shit, these documents from three decades ago look exactly like Microsoft word" and stop the story, and 2) keeping on digging their hole by explicitly insisting that the memos were 100% accurate, were from an unimpeachable source, and that anyone doubting the memos was a hack.

Now we've got two of the guilty parties suing each other. This is a no-lose situation for the rest of us.
11.18.2008 11:13am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Again, CBS had more than enough evidence to present to back up the claim of Bush's dereliction --"

How come they're keeping it secret? No meat there?
11.18.2008 11:17am
Dan Weber (www):
Can we get that feature where readers can get RSS feeds for specific commenters? Namely everyone but ...

With Firefox and GreaseMonkey: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/26315

If you use this, please don't be an ass about it.
11.18.2008 11:17am
paul lukasiak (mail):
If I told you that I spent the better part of four months looking into whether Bill Clinton did in fact inhale, would you treat me as an honest, thorough investigator and ask me what I found?

if there was four months worth of information to study on the subject, sure. But that's not what we're talking about here -- rather it would be like you spending a day trying to determine if Clinton had inhaled, and turned up evidence that he was dealing smack at Oxford -- you'd probably spend as much time as necessary to fully investigate this evidence.

Like I noted earlier, I didn't set out to spend four months looking into this -- it just turned out that way because that's how long it took once I got involved in trying to determine the whole truth.

This was a case in which I started out with no knowledge of the laws and policies in place in the late sixties and early seventies, and had to find out what those laws and policies were, and how the hundreds of pages of documents released by the white house related to those laws/policies.

Most of the research wasn't aimed so much at "proving" anything so much as eliminating alternate theories -- very early on it was obvious that Bush had not done his duty, but only by doing a full examination could I say that without eqivocation.

The other factor here is that I did NOT include any "anecdotal" information in my research -- this wasn't a question of "he said/she said", rather it was "here are the relevant laws/procedures, and here is how the documents relate to those laws/procedures." NO ONE has effectively rebutted a single one of my assertions with regard to the interpretation of the contemporaneous statutes, regulations, and policies -- they make uninformed claims, I come back with specific citations of the relevent documents and "rules", and they don't have a rebuttal because my case is AIR TIGHT.
11.18.2008 11:18am
paul lukasiak (mail):
How come they're keeping it secret? No meat there?

in fact, CBS didn't "keep it a secret". They were more than happy to discuss the rest of the evidence of Bush's dereliction, but the media was in witch hunt mode, and didn't care what the facts were.

As I noted above, a number of other mainstream media organizations also wound up reporting on the facts regarding Bush's records (the US link i cited above does a particularly good job) -- but the "Killian memos" controversy made the whole topic "radioactive"....
11.18.2008 11:22am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Mapes and Rather and 60 Minutes still deserve the journalistic death penalty for 1) not having someone in their news organization who could recognize "holy shit, these documents from three decades ago look exactly like Microsoft word"

this is just DUMB. Microsoft Word was designed to create document that LOOKED LIKE documents that were being created "three decades ago". The point was to not have them look like something created by a computer....

It should also be noted that no font available in MS Word matches the actual Killian memos -- what was posted on line had been faxed, copied, then converted into "digital" format and bore little resemblance to the actual document that CBS had. (Mapes' book includes a comparison of the same document -- one based on what appeared on the web, and the other taken directly from the original itself -- the difference is startling.)
11.18.2008 11:32am
dude:
My bad, Paul, you're obviously a truth-teller with no political agenda and a fortunate abundance of time. Rather than showing a frightening partisan zeal, the four months you spent examining this important issue demonstrates your good faith and thoroughness. A thousand apologies.
11.18.2008 11:45am
Blue:
"I spend as much time disabusing "liberals" of myths concerning Bush's service as I do dealing with those on the right who are equally clueless."

I find this...difficult...to believe.

Also, defending the clearly forged memos sinks any shreds of credibility you might have had that were floating around the water following your rather spectacular conspiracy screed above.
11.18.2008 11:49am
pete (mail) (www):

It should also be noted that no font available in MS Word matches the actual Killian memos -- what was posted on line had been faxed, copied, then converted into "digital" format and bore little resemblance to the actual document that CBS had.


There are no actual Killian memos. Burkett claims he burned the papers he "received" from the imaginary lucy ramirez after faxing copies to CBS.
11.18.2008 11:49am
bikeguy (mail):

this is just DUMB. Microsoft Word was designed to create document that LOOKED LIKE documents that were being created "three decades ago". The point was to not have them look like something created by a computer....


It should also be noted that no font available in MS Word matches the actual Killian memos -- what was posted on line had been faxed, copied, then converted into "digital" format and bore little resemblance to the actual document that CBS had. (Mapes' book includes a comparison of the same document -- one based on what appeared on the web, and the other taken directly from the original itself -- the difference is startling.)


Okay, we get it. This is a parody.
11.18.2008 11:53am
Can't find a good name:
Paul Lukasiak: I'm not sure I understand why you think Microsoft Word was designed to create documents that look like they were from the 1970s. Granted, it may be possible to select fonts to prepare such documents in MS Word. But MS Word and other contemporary word processors are also intended to create documents that look a lot better than typical typed documents from the 1970s. And the Killian memos should have been recognized as something from the 2000s rather than something from the 1970s before CBS News tried to feature them on the air.

Even if Mapes and Rather failed to notice that the memos had been created in MS Word, at least two of the document examiners they consulted before airing did, in fact, express concerns about the memos' authenticity based on the typography before the report aired.
11.18.2008 11:58am
Crust (mail):
Lindgren:
The only even marginally embarrassing revelation in today's New York Times story is...
Shouldn't it be embarrassing that they apparently considered Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes as investigators?
11.18.2008 12:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
paul lukasiak:

Even supposing everything you say is true, I still find it amazing that anyone would spend so much time on this issue, unless you got paid to do it. Did you get paid to it? Why did you care so much about getting the facts about what Bush did or didn't do more than 30 years ago? Now I can see someone spending a lot of time trying to correct the record on (say) global warming because that matters a lot- to everyone. But Bush? He's just not worth the time one way or another.

If you're on a mission to save the reputations of Rather and Mapes, this is the not the best way to do it. As I recall there is a huge amount of evidence that the memos are forgeries. But even if that evidence should turn out to be weak, Rather and Mapes still carry the burden of proof that the memos are genuine. Personally I would never have given that copy much credence. Mapes and Rather utterly failed at journalistic due diligence and no amount of harping on Bush is going to change that.
11.18.2008 12:43pm
Crust (mail):
Oops, I see huskerfan made the same point in the first comment which I somehow missed.
11.18.2008 12:50pm
Kazinski:
Shouldn't it be embarrassing that they apparently considered Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes as investigators?

Did any of them end up on the panel?

It's telling that not one person commnenting on either side of this controversy, have made even the weakest claim that the memos were legitimate. So despite all the everybody at least tacitly admits that CBS's investigative panel got it right and the memos were crude forgeries and that Rather and Mapes did not adequately vet the memos before airing them.

Lukasiak has spent a few thousand words on this thread expounding on the "fake but true" meme.
11.18.2008 12:57pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):

That said, my problem with this tidbit isn't the fact that CBS wanted to involve conservatives in the investigation for balance, but that they considered dishonest hacks such as Limbaugh and Coulter as suitable candidates.



Agreed. But I have a feeling they were not really considered at all, but the names were simply thrown around the room and quickly dismissed. In the end, those hacks were not selected. Still, it would be nice to see the notes from those sessions.

I'm going to side with Lukasiak on this one. Bush almost certainly got favorable treatment. Keep in mind that it was not then, and is not now, uncommon for the well connected and their children to somehow escape the consequences of not following the rules. Obama probably shirted the law with the Resko real estate deal. And liberals should consider this. Had the Killian Docs not torpedoed the story, and Kerry had won, maybe we wouldn't have a president elect Barack Obama.
11.18.2008 1:24pm
Dan Weber (www):
this is just DUMB. Microsoft Word was designed to create document that LOOKED LIKE documents that were being created "three decades ago". The point was to not have them look like something created by a computer....

No. Wrong.

First, the history of the word processing: yes, for a long time the point of printers was to look just like a typewriter. This was even though there was no reason printers should be limited that way -- but the public mood was that computer-generated forms weren't "as serious" as those that were typewritten. And so we had "NLQ" (near-letter-quality) printers.

But eventually we got over that mental hump, and realized that computers could produce documents that were much more readable than typewriters. Proportional spacing and kerning, just for example.

What followed was a long period of innovation about desktop publishing. Apple and Adobe and Microsoft and many other companies were doing lots of research here, filing lots of patents. Printed documents look a lot different now than they did even 10 years ago.

Furthermore, not all word processing programs are the same, just as all typewriters were the same back in the day. There isn't some "gold standard" of document formatting that all typewriter companies adhered to in the 70's and that the publishing companies have been trying to re-achieve ever since.

Even different version of Microsoft Word can render the Killian memos differently. Yet, the one that was widespread when the Killian memos were out, for some reason, comes down to an exact pixel match when you look at word-wrapping.

I haven't even brought up that different software packages can render what is supposedly "8-point Times New Roman" in different ways that would be easily noticed if you printed a paragraph of text.
11.18.2008 1:26pm
pete (mail) (www):

I'm going to side with Lukasiak on this one. Bush almost certainly got favorable treatment. Keep in mind that it was not then, and is not now, uncommon for the well connected and their children to somehow escape the consequences of not following the rules.


So you are going for the fake but accurate meme too?

Lots of innuendo, but no proof.
11.18.2008 1:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Lets see.
Bush got in without help--no waiting list for pilots--trained and flew. The 102 was obsoleted and he did not convert to another aircraft, there being plenty of active duty pilots already flying them or wanting to convert to them as part of their career. He was surplus to requirements. End of story.

Kerry, on the other hand, conducted the Winter Soldier scam, met with reps of Hanoi, and generally attempted to undermine the war effort, while a reserve officer.
Lukasiak. How much time did you spend on Kerry?
11.18.2008 1:37pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Even if Mapes and Rather failed to notice that the memos had been created in MS Word, at least two of the document examiners they consulted before airing did, in fact, express concerns about the memos' authenticity based on the typography before the report aired.

there are two separate issues here -- whether mapes acted flawlessly in the vetting of the memos, and whether CBS's supposedly "impartial" panel was actually "fixed" to have a specific result.

None of the people who examined the documents prior to air said they were forgeries (let alone obvious forgeries) -- and all of them told Mapes the same thing --- that copies could never be authenticated as genuine. Mapes primary failure, IMHO, was in not following up on what she'd been told by Burkett regarding the source of the documents -- and its my guess that the reason she failed to verify Burkett's original story was that she thought that Conn would deny being the source even if he had been the source (indeed, when Burkett told Mapes that he'd gotten the documents from Conn, he said that Conn would deny being the source.)

That should have been the point where Mapes delayed the story -- but higher ups (including Heyward) were very very interested in the story, and didn't want to get scooped on it (the knew, for instance, that USA Today had also been given copies by Burkett, and was working on the story.)

So, Mapes did screw up -- but not the way most people think. The documents were not "obvious forgeries" -- and none of her experts had said they were "obvious forgeries" although some had raised "questions".

But the question of whether Mapes acted flawlessly is separate and distinct from CBS's actions in setting up a kangaroo court consisting to TWO Republicans, one of whom was a professional party hack, and the other who was a professional corporate hack. No working journalists, or academics concerned with the practice and ethics of journalism, were involved in the panel -- instead, the LAW FIRM OF THE GOP HACK RAN THE ENTIRE INVESTIGATION

Journalism isn't law, and should be judged based on the same kind of evidentiary criteria required by courts -- and certainly should be judged by lawyers who are beholden to Republican hacks like Dick Thornburgh.
11.18.2008 3:30pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Bush got in without help--no waiting list for pilots--trained and flew. The 102 was obsoleted and he did not convert to another aircraft, there being plenty of active duty pilots already flying them or wanting to convert to them as part of their career. He was surplus to requirements. End of story.

1) Bush did have help
2) There was a massive waiting list to get into the guard -- but no 'position specific' waiting lists....AND the Texas Air National Guard never notified anyone on the waiting list that it was looking for pilots. YOU DID NOT APPLY TO BE A PILOT WHEN YOU WENT ON THE WAITING LIST.
3)The F102 WAS NOT OBSOLETE (another right wing lie) continued to be flown by Bush's unit until October 1974 -- and Bush could have continued to fly it throughout that period
4) There were VERY FEW available F102 pilots, because the F102 was no longer being flown by the active duty Air Force -- because the F102 was still being used for missions, Bush's unit needed all the F102 pilots it could get

Richard, you really should stop lying -- Bush was NOT surplus, and even had he been "surplus", he was still required to train and maintain his qualifications as an F102 pilot unless he was given another assignment. Those were the rules then, and they are the same rules today.
11.18.2008 3:38pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"in fact, CBS didn't "keep it a secret". They were more than happy to discuss the rest of the evidence of Bush's dereliction, but the media was in witch hunt mode, and didn't care what the facts were."

The media kept it secret because the media was on a witch hunt? Was CBS News unable to get TV news coverage for their evidence? Courage.
11.18.2008 3:44pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

The 102 was obsoleted


lukasiak has already corrected you, but here's some further detail.

Bush flew for the last time in 4/72, even though that was less than four years into what was supposed to have been a six-year commitment. Here's how Bush explains that in his book (p. 57):

I was almost finished with my commitment in the Air National Guard, and was no longer flying because the F-102 jet I had trained in was being replaced by a different fighter.


Notice how less than 2/3 translates into "almost finished." And, oddly enough, Bush forgets to mention, anywhere in his book, that his flight status was suspended because he failed to appear for his mandatory physical.

He also tried to create the impression that F-102s stopped flying when he did. Wrong:

... the F-102 remained the workhorse of the 147th through mid-1972, when Bush moved from Texas to Alabama to take part in a political campaign, even as pilots were being trained on the more sophisticated F-101. Fifteen F-102 planes were in service in the 147th that year, compared with 18 planes in 1968, the year Bush joined the Guard.

The use of F-102s expanded in October 1972, when the group assumed a new "24-hour active alert mission" to safeguard the southern boundary of the United States against "surprise attack," according to the unit history. The new mission required that two F-102 fighter-interceptors be on five-minute alert at all times. The plane was not phased out until September 1974, 2 1/2 years after Bush stopped flying.

The unit histories also cast doubt on a 1999 statement by Bush that there were "five or six flying slots available" in the 147th when he first expressed an interest in applying, in January 1968. At that time, the unit was two pilots short of its assigned strength of 29 pilots. Two pilots were undergoing training to take over the positions, and one pilot was on the transfer list.


(Emphasis added.) Other folks were definitely flying F-102s in '72, '73, and '74. Bush just made a unilateral decision that it wasn't going to be him, because he had better things to do. But that doesn't reveal even a whiff of favoritism, right?
11.18.2008 3:55pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
So you are going for the fake but accurate meme too?

Are you going with this meme - "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit!!!!"

The whole story was not the memo. There was plenty of other material in the story. In TV, it's all about the visuals! Mapes was following her success with the stunning Abu Ghraib (sp) pics, and thought the memo's would create a splash. It did, just not in the way she expected. She got cocky and careless. Unfortunately for Rather et, al. that memo morphed from just another piece of evidence, into their version of a smoking gun, when in fact they didn't need one in the first place. Then they put the daffy secretary on camera which further detracted from whether or not the base of the story was accurate. The docs and the secretary aside, the accumulated circumstantial evidence concerning the accusations, though not compelling, are none-the-less pretty strong. And as any lawyer here will tell you, if you have enough circ evidence, you don't necessarily need the smoking gun to convict.

And don't get me wrong, I am not that concerned whether or not he got special favors during this period. This accusation was out there against Bush in 2000, and I still voted for him. I just didn't care about this. I kind of expect that many in his social status got some similar breaks from someone somewhere along the line as they rose to prominence.

For the record, I did not vote for either party candidate in 04 or 08. Their fiscal policy, especially Bush's, sucks!!!
11.18.2008 4:03pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"None of the people who examined the documents prior to air said they were forgeries (let alone obvious forgeries) -- and all of them told Mapes the same thing --- that copies could never be authenticated as genuine."

As I recall the document examiners limited themselves to commenting on the signature, and none had any competence in the area of type face. However, right there in NYC is a typewriter shop that has samples of virtually every type face put on a typewriter. Moreover, the owners of the shop also provide expert witness services on typewriters. I remember reading a story (circa 1985) on this shop in WSJ and it's still in business or the experts are still available. Eventually CBS did bring them in and they called the document a forgery. In fact virtually anyone with any type face knowledge could instantly spot the memo as a fake.

What you write is misleading.
11.18.2008 4:12pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Bush's obligations included both active duty and inactive duty, and he definitely fell short of his obligations in the latter category:

Bush's records show that during the fiscal year of July 1, 1972, through June 30, 1973, Bush fell significantly short of this requirement to do inactive duty, obtaining only 36 points that year. He fared worse the following year, gaining only 12 points. Even if one uses May, the date of his induction, as the starting point in the points calculation, President Bush falls short of the minimum number of weekend drills required by his military service obligation his last two years.


I also recommend taking a look at the 32-page analysis that can be found via here:

"The record clearly and convincingly proves he did not fulfill the obligations he incurred when he enlisted in the Air National Guard," writes Gerald Lechliter, a retired Army colonel


One more thing. A named witness reports hearing Bush himself admit that daddy's friends pulled strings to get him into TANG.
11.18.2008 4:16pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Prof. Lindgren, you would be in a better position to take shots at Rather for allegedly promoting misinformation if you made more of an effort to deal with your own track record of promoting misinformation (see here and here).

And the same ironic observation also applies to Power Line (example, example).

The issue here is much bigger than Bush and TANG. It's about how certain people brazenly exempt themselves from the standards they righteously apply to others.
11.18.2008 4:29pm
Craig Oren (mail):
I am inclined to disagree with Jim. There is a difference, I think, between a "fair" committee and one that is "politically balanced." In the first case, we expect that all of the committee members will be objective; in the second, we can expect that the committee's views will simply be those of the groups they represent.
11.18.2008 4:30pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I only dealt with the Guard as subordinate units. I never dealt with their personnel issues directly.
I was made aware, by approaches to me and hearing about them to others, that the Guard recruited aggressively albeit informally for candidates for difficult slots.
So, you had to be Somebody to get in line to be a company clerk in a Guard unit. You didn't have to be Somebody if you seemed a likely fit for a slot they had difficulty filling, such as pilots. Problem is, qual testing doesn't guarantee success in something as difficult as high-performance aircraft. So they liked to keep the pipeline fill.
Since most combat units of the reserve components are in the Guard, experienced combat officers and noncoms coming off active duty were sought.
Point is, you don't have one long line into which everybody trying to get into the Guard either takes cuts, or falls in at the end.
The forgoing should be couched in the past tense.
11.18.2008 4:45pm
Brian K (mail):
I would also question whether there was any realistic chance that, after spending four months searching, someone who thought such a partisan pursuit worthwhile in the first place would just say, "Darn, I've got nothing" and leave it at that.

now why didn't anyone take this attitude with respect to clinton and his affair, kerry and the swift boaters, clinton and vince foster.

i never once heard someone say "the media is spending so much time trying to connect obama to terrorists that it must be false!"

in other words, IOKIYAR
11.18.2008 6:40pm
Dan Weber (www):
So, Mapes did screw up -- but not the way most people think. The documents were not "obvious forgeries" --

Yes, they were. 100%, no doubt, bet-my-house-and-my-life-and-that-of-my-family, forgeries.

The document analyzers that CBS hired did raise questions about the documents. Mapes kept on insisting that she only wanted the signatures vetted, which we all should know, a priori, is absolutely worthless to corroborate a typed document that's gone through a fax machine. I can paste Killian's signature onto a copy of Harry Potter at that point to prove he wrote it in 1973.

Mapes found one examiner who approved the signature and refused to listen to anything else. That is very bad for a journalist, and why she should never have a career as one again.
11.18.2008 6:44pm