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Friday, September 17, 2004

Rathergate links roundup

Start with Jim Garraghty's Kerry Spot on NRO, where you'll find that —

  • ABC News is reporting that Retired Col. Walter Staudt, who was described in one of the forged Killian memos as having pressured Killian to assist Bush and "sugar-coat" his evaluations, says "I never pressured anybody about George Bush because I had no reason to."  And: "'[Bush] didn't use political influence to get into the Air National Guard,' Staudt said, adding, 'I don't know how they would know that, because I was the one who did it and I was the one who was there and I didn't talk to any of them.'"  The latter quote is old news, made new again simply because Dan Rather is willing to ignore reputable reporting from the Dallas Morning News, among others, who proved years ago that disgraced politician and fat-cat Dem lobbyist and Kerry-insider Ben Barnes was, and is, full of crap when he claims to have gotten Dubya into the TANG.  (The Commissar writes of this ABC News story on Staudt, "It's not a coffin any more. It's a mountain of nails with a coffin at the bottom.")
  • The Chicago Tribune narrowly edges its competition for best Rathergate headline of the day with "Eye Wide Shut," which observes of CBS News' "forged but accurate defense" that "[t]he fact that Adolf Hitler allegedly had thoughts similar to some in those long discredited 'Hitler's diaries' doesn't make them more than sleazy frauds."  More:  "News organizations that relied in part on CBS' story — the Tribune included — put some faith in CBS News' credibility. Only to learn that the network may have had its trademark eye wide shut."  Gotta love a hard-hitting editorial that leaves you (well, leaves me, anyway) remembering Nicole Kidman stepping out of slinky underthings.
  • CBS News' resident curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, is "surprised at [CBS News' top brass'] reluctance to concede they're wrong." According to the New York Daily News, "Rooney and other CBS staffers are still holding out hope that Rather will produce something to authenticate the supposed memos from the early 1970s that criticized Bush's record in the Texas Air National Guard."  And I continue to hold out hope that Nicole Kidman will read my blog, smile that delightful, oh-so-wicked smile, click on the "About Beldar" link and ... oh, never mind.
  • CBS affiliates continue to cringe over Rather's and CBS News' stonewall.  Geraghty rightly identifies the affiliates as a key point through which  blogs and blog readers can apply pressure to CBS News.
  • CBS News' most recently disclosed expert, James J. Pierce, is very upset that CBS News posted his September 14th opinion — not just because it's prompted reporters to camp out on his home doorstep, but because "he was only 'midway through his analysis' of all the documents — speaking as though there were many docs. CBS gave you other documents besides the four that 60 Minutes used in the story? 'Lots more documents' were his exact words."  I believe this trims the number of "experts" of any stripe or credential who continue to stand foresquare and unequivocally behind the Tiffany Network down to two — Mr. Glennon, the typewriter repairman CBS News found on dKos, and Mr. Katz, the "software designer" who's noticed that "you'd have to go out of your way" to avoid Microsoft Word's automatic supercripting feature.  How pathetic is that?  Any trial lawyer who tried to take a case to trial with this kind of expert witnesses lineup would be sued for, and guilty of, gross malpractice.

Elsewhere, Hugh Hewitt seeks and receives help in fashioning an appropriate Rathergate/Lord of the Rings analogy.  My favorite so far:  "Grima Rathertongue."

Compare and contrast stories about forgery suspect Bill Burkett in the Houston Chronicle (been there, done that, already figured out this guy was a nutcase months and months ago) and WaPo (Burkett is a "Well-Regarded Texan" — maybe true, if sort of in the same sense that Charles Whitman was a well-regarded former Marine before he toted some sniper rifles to the top of the UT Tower in 1964).  Sheesh, even the Boston Globe had figured out that Burkett was an untrustworthy flake by last February.

RatherBiased discovers that Rather, CBS News,  and producer Mary Mapes were relying on Burkett back in February (about the same time the Houston Chronicle and other media outlets were concluding that he's a nutcase).

Former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal recounting from bitter personal experience just how calmly Rather reacts to criticism.  As for why he's stonewalling:  "Because Dan Rather may be protecting not just his source, but himself; because, if the source turns out to be a partisan, then Dan wasn't just taken for a ride, but may have been a willing passenger.  And then Dan, and CBS News, can kiss their reputations goodbye."  (Note: "willing passenger" is not the same as "fellow traveler," even if they're both sitting on the left side of the car.)  NRO's Byron York also has a WSJ op-ed which points out that "[t]here is an army of well-informed fact-checkers out there, all connected on the Internet. There are people who know about things like computer fonts, or IBM typewriters circa 1972, or the arcane terminology of the Air National Guard. Pick a completely different subject, and there will be people who know about that, too."

Finally, from yesterday (I know, ancient history in this news cycle), don't miss Jed Babbin's posts (here and here) on NRO's The Corner, from which we learn that Mrs. Knox, the elderly-but-feisty Bush-basher who typed Col. Killian's real memos, was a pool typist, "out of the mainstream of the squadron, in an office that the pilots only visited occasionally," and in nowhere near as good a position to assess either young Lt. Bush or Col. Killian as were Col. Killian's son and other pilots who flew with them both.  Her own son, though, was also a member of this "Champagne Squadron."

Posted by Beldar at 06:31 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink

TrackBacks

Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Rathergate links roundup and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


» Above the Belt from Who Can Really Say?

Tracked on Sep 17, 2004 8:02:14 PM

» The L.A. Times Prints Yet Another Blatant Falsehood in a Letter to the Editor from Patterico's Pontifications

Tracked on Sep 17, 2004 10:27:03 PM

Comments

(1) Al made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 7:58:20 PM | Permalink

Mary Mapes also is rumored to say there are more documents to John Carlson, KVI 570 AM Seattle today before 300pm PT. She wasn't on live, she talked with him on the record prior to his show.

(2) Donald Segretti made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 9:18:58 PM | Permalink

In addition to the letter from Bush's father, the latest documents contain news releases that the Texas Air National Guard sent to Houston newspapers in 1970 about young Bush, then a second lieutenant and new pilot.

"George Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed," the news release said. "Oh, he gets high, all right, but not from narcotics."

(3) OhMike made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 9:49:32 PM | Permalink

Beldar,

You old dog! As a long-time (but former) Nicole Kidman fan, I enjoyed your comments about her. Sadly, it will have to be someone else slipping out of slinky underthings in my revels. When I found out that Nic donated money to Hillary, it ruined any fantasies I might have had of Ms. Kidman.

Go figure. I can respect a demimonde like Nicole played in "Moulin Rouge," but I can't abide anyone who would support a Clinton of any stripe.

(4) MaDr made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 9:51:00 PM | Permalink

CBS held back these other documents because there's nothing incriminating in them. So why are they having them analyzed now? Do they think they can rehabilitate their case by proving that some docs are authentic and then by extension the other (disputed) docs 'could' be authentic .... and since we're(CBS)the final arbiter on this, we do not see any definitive evidence that the (disputed) docs are not authentic.

Dan says, he believes it, so that settles it.

I continue to believe that although Burkett is "a source", he is not "the source" (unimpeachable). It's too late and too unbelievable to pawn Burkett off as the source. Rather is protecting someone who if their identity was revealed, could only be described as a political operative. Once that happens, the election is over.

Rather Lied - Kerry Died

(5) OhMike made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 10:07:33 PM | Permalink

Beldar,

There's a report that ABC is demanding that the Swiftvets stop using its footage in their latest ad. Any comments on the legal issues?

Do the Swiftees have any right to use the footage?

(6) Blue made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 11:03:19 PM | Permalink

Beldar, does Staudt have a tort for libel?

(7) Al made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 11:32:29 PM | Permalink

Following Blue above, really I just want to know if that case could get far enough for Discovery.

(8) John made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 12:50:37 AM | Permalink

I believe that someday soon the idea of giving the Chicago Tribune every scrap of personal information I possess to read their articles will be passe due to the ready availability of real, true news from blogs such as yours.

(9) rightwingconspirator made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 2:32:03 AM | Permalink

Here's a lovely article in today's LA Times. This paper makes me so damn mad. This stuff is like pornography for Democrats. There is almost no attempt to sound like they aren't foaming at the mouth pro Democrat.

"Ah ha! Its a Clinton enemy who believes the font is proportional!!"


THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE

GOP Activist Made Allegations on CBS Memos

An Atlanta lawyer who helped get Clinton disbarred is the blogger who called them fakes.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-buckhead18sep18,1,3120857,print.story?coll=la-home-headlines

(10) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 18, 2004 5:47:06 AM | Permalink

OhMike, I'm not a copyright expert, but my strong hunch is that the SwiftVets are absolutely entitled to use the ABC footage under the "fair use" exception, especially since (i) it's an issue of huge public interest, (ii) it's only short excerpts, and (iii) it's for a noncommercial use.

Blue and Al, the question would be whether the attribution of false statements to Staudt somehow damaged him. I think that's doubtful: the main target of the falsehood was clearly Bush; it may, in the process, have misrepresented Staudt's actions or views, but in a comparatively minor way. No one has alleged that Staudt broke any laws or even any specific regulations; it's just a sort of vague "favoritism" claim, as far as I know.

It's not an open-or-shut question, and as a practical matter might depend a lot on who the trial judge would be who'd be ruling upon the defendants' early-stage motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment.

In Texas state-court practice, there's also a procedure whereby media defendants who are basing their defense in part on First Amendment grounds — as CBS would be — can secure an unusual, immediate "interlocutory" appeal from the denial of a motion for summary judgment even before the case goes to trial. You can be sure that such a motion would be filed, along with a motion to stay discovery, as the defendants' first order of business as soon as they were sued, and that if the motion were denied, CBS et al. would seek (and probably get) the interlocutory appeal before any discovery took place. As a practical matter, that means that the plaintiff (e.g., Staudt) would have to win the day on his argument that the statements about him were, or at least could properly be submitted to a jury to ask whether they were, defamatory — and he'd have to win not only in the trial court, but (if the case were filed in the Texas state-court system) also at the first appellate level.

Ethically, a lawyer's not supposed to file a case just to get discovery; he's got to have a reasonable basis to believe that the case can be won — although that can be based on reasonable inferences about what the lawyer hopes and expects to get from the defendants and from nonparty witnesses during pretrial discovery.

It would be expensive litigation to pursue, with no guarantee of recovery. It's conceivable that Staudt could find a lawyer to take it on a contingent fee basis, I suppose. But my initial reaction is that it'd be a long-shot at best.

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