Thursday, September 16, 2004

CBS News's Sad Demise

Dan Rather has finally admitted that the documents used in the story are problematic, but insists that the story is true and the sentiments expressed in the memos, even if they are faked, are accurate. Of course that's a useless argument.

The coverage of the memo scandal done by the Washington Post has been fascinating and revealing. I still can't believe that CBS went to air on this story only having photocopies of the documents and not the originals. Any authentication done of photocopies is automatically inconclusive at best. And for a story like this, which relied for so much of its oomph on the documents, to rely on various authenticators looking only a pieces of the whole -- one person for a signature, another to confirm the font type was technically doable in 1972 -- is just beyond careless.

And then! And then to get Burkett to cooperate on her story, Mary Mapes calls Joe Lockhart and asks him to talk Burkett because Burkett hasn't been able to get through to anyone in the Kerry campaign. How stupid is that, asking a candidate's opposing campaign to help you on a story that will hurt that candidate? Even if the documents hadn't been fake and were inconlcusively genuine, that appearance of collusion drastically undermines the reporting. It opened both the Kerry campaign and CBS News to charges of orchestrating an attack on Bush. Dumb. Just dumb.

Dan Rather should fire Mary Mapes and then resign. If that doesn't happen, CBS should fire them both.

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