As if CBS isn’t in enough hot water already after running two stories in one month based on phony documents, MoveOn.org has started a lobbying campaign to get CBS to run yet a third false story (hat-tip Kerry Spot). This one, on the attempts by Iraq to get Yellowcake uranium in Africa, was bumped from its original broadcast slot by the Bush Texas Guard story.
Here is MoveOn’s call to arms:
Date: Monday, September 27
From: Peter Schurman, MoveOn.org
Subject: CBS censoring the truth about Bush’s case for war
Dear MoveOn member,
President Bush based his famous and false claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger on a set of crudely forged documents. For the last two years, no one has uncovered who falsified these documents, which lie at the heart of Bush’s case for war.
Now, CBS’ 60 Minutes program has uncovered new and important revelations about the Bush administration’s reliance on the documents. But, in an unprecedented and astonishing move, CBS bumped the report back until after the election, saying it would be “inappropriate” to air the piece when it might interfere with the political season.
It’s outrageous that a major TV news outlet would censor an important piece of news for political reasons. Especially since this report has met CBS’ standards for accuracy — it’s true. One can only assume that CBS is buckling under pressure from the right — and that’s just plain wrong.
Call CBS and its parent company, Viacom, now, at: . . . .
The reason that CBS publicly gave for further postponing the story (that it was too close to the election) was indeed inappropriate on its face (unless of course CBS in the 2 months before the election would run investigative stories only if they favored one candidate).
But there are other better reasons for CBS not running the story. First, it is false. Note that Moveon claims:
“President Bush based his famous and false claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger on a set of crudely forged documents.”
It would be hard to write a sentence with more errors in it, given what many have revealed in recent months (examples here and here). First, Bush did not mention Niger, but rather Africa. Second, Bush stated what British intelligence found, an analysis that has never been revoked and has recently been confirmed. Third, the administration did not even have possession of the forged documents when Bush made his statement, and it recognized the documents as doubtful almost immediately after they did get their hands on them. Last, one of the intelligence reports released this summer confirmed Bush’s original claim about British intelligence and showed that Joseph Wilson had not been truthful about what he had told the CIA at the time–that Wilson himself had reported probable Iraqi attempts to get Yellowcake.
Moveon’s second sentence is similarly ridiculous:
“For the last two years, no one has uncovered who falsified these documents, which lie at the heart of Bush’s case for war.”
Not only were the documents NOT part of Bush’s case for war, the Italian con man who was caught forging the documents has confessed that he created them for French intelligence.
If CBS had run this story, they would have shot themselves in the foot yet again–pushing another false tale that happens to hurt the President.
UPDATE: I was just thinking: how does MoveOn know what CBS was going to say in their report? How do they know that CBS wouldn’t have focused on French attempts to undercut the war, the Bush administration’s quick skepticism about the documents, the exposure and public discrediting of Joseph Wilson this summer, and the vindication of Bush’s claim, which so many critics still don’t want to face? Hmmm . . .
2d UPDATE: Wizbang explains how MoveOn knew about what CBS had said in a story that hadn’t run yet. It appears that CBS gave a tape of their half-hour story (before its scheduled broadcast) to organizations that share CBS’s orientation, such as Salon. Salon has a long, credulous description of CBS’s story, with direct quotes (nonmembers are subjected to a long ad to get a free day pass to Salon Premium).
People have been wondering why CBS, who was taken in by Joe Wilson earlier, hasn’t recanted their earlier embrace of his now discredited claims. Rather than admit their earlier mistake on Wilson and apologize, CBS had planned to use him again in the postponed story, allowing Wilson to make the same false claims that left him so discredited that the Kerry campaign removed their Wilson page.
It’s time for bloggers who know more about the Niger story than I do to fact-check and document the false claims that CBS planned to run (many of which are in the Salon story). If these three stories (memogate, the email selective service hoax, and the Niger yellowcake) are representative of what CBS can do in just one month, CBS management must stop pretending that politics doesn’t matter. They should integrate their newsroom politically. And if they are going to team up to do a story with a blogger, perhaps they might next time team up with a blogger who might fill in their blindspots, rather than one who would magnify them.
3d UPDATE: A reader points out that it is incorrect to say that an Italian suspect has confessed to forging the documents. Rather, an Italian who conveyed the documents has “confessed” to procuring them (claiming that he thought them genuine) and to working for French intelligence (see here and here) in the matter.
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