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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Beldar on Noonan on Rather

I have long been an unabashed fan of Peggy Noonan's skills as a speechwriter and a political columnist. The woman is sometimes a fuddy-duddy, as I suspect she'd be the first to admit. But she can do more than just turn a nice phrase. At its worst, her prose is still very readable and distinctively voiced; at its best, her prose absolutely sings, and angels gladly harmonize.

From 1981-1984, Ms. Noonan worked for Dan Rather, whom she describes in an op-ed column in today's Wall Street Journal as "a great boss." In this and many other respects, her column is respectful, sympathetic, sometimes even flattering, to Mr. Rather. It's almost certainly the most positive assessment of Dan Rather that's likely to be written by a prominent pundit of the right, and it's worthwhile reading.

Because in this column, as almost always in Ms. Noonan's writing, she allows her first-hand experiences to not only tint but fully color her opinions — and because, I think, Peggy Noonan is fundamentally a very kind and decent person — she therefore gives Mr. Rather the benefit of quite a few doubts. She paints Mr. Rather as a product of his times, which saw the rise and fall of TV network news as an oligopolistic shaper and maker of American public opinion. She ascribes blame to the eastern liberal elites, whose approval and recognition Mr. Rather coveted and who made political liberalism a prerequisite for his and his peers' career advancement. She analogizes Mr. Rather to Richard Nixon — well, that's one well-meant bit that bites rather than soothes, I'm sure, from Mr. Rather's perspective. And she emphasizes the need to weigh the accomplishments of his entire career on the way to, and then while he broadcast from, the network anchor's chair.

But Ms. Noonan's column also expresses ambivalence — both in the text of what she says, and in the shouting subtext of what she leaves unsaid. "Life is complicated," she begins her column, "people are complicated, and most of us are a jumble of virtues, flaws and contradictions." Of Mr. Rather's willingness, eagerness, to swallow whole the mindset his media bosses demanded as the price of his success, she acknowledges that her portrait is "not very nice but I think it is true." And she concludes with:

People are complicated, careers are complicated, motives are complicated. Dan Rather did some great work on stories that demanded physical courage. He loved the news, and often made it look like the most noble of enterprises. He had guts and fortitude. Those stories he covered that touched on politics were unfortunately and consistently marred by liberal political bias, and in this he was like too many in his profession. But this is changing. The old hegemony has given way. The old dominance is over. Good thing. Great thing. Onward.

This is very gracious and generous. It reflects well on Ms. Noonan. But it's far, far better than Dan Rather deserves.

The Rathergate forged documents scandal was not just an aberration as part of a long and otherwise distinguished career. It was simply the capstone of a long series of incredibly biased and dishonest incidents. This one was deliberately timed and intended by Mr. Rather and his co-conspirators, upstream and down, to change the outcome of a crucial presidential election. Mr. Rather and CBS News ignored — nay, brazenly flouted, and then tried to cover up their breach of — practically every fundamental written principle of journalistic ethics. Was he alone is this conspiracy? Of course not. Does that in any way excuse him? Of course it does not.

Dan Rather and his cohorts didn't just make a mistake. They didn't just have a lapse. They didn't just let their biases color their reporting. They didn't just make an error in judgment. Instead, they conspired together with should-be felons, with forgers, to pass off as genuine, as truthful "news," a set of bogus documents that defamed the record and the integrity of the President — and in so doing, they fundamentally betrayed the entire reason for their profession's existence. They actively hid the fact that their own hired experts were telling them — before the first broadcast — that the documents were fakes. Then they tried to demonize those (including me and my fellow bloggers) who'd helped expose their ploy, and to justify their lies as "fake but accurate."

If I tried to win a case, to earn a fee, to gain glory in the legal profession by poisoning the judge before whom my client and I were appearing — and if I were caught at it, red-handed in the way Mr. Rather and CBS News were caught — then my long and somewhat distinguished career as a trial lawyer would not just be tarnished. It would be forfeited, and deservedly so. For the rest of my life, the only law books I'd see would be those handed to me between the bars of my cell, with a big stamp on the spine reading "Property of the Texas Dep't of Corrections Law Lib'y."

Dan Rather didn't try to poison a judge, but he tried to poison an election. He tried to murder the truth. He got caught, and he's shown no remorse. If that's not the journalistic equivalent of a capital crime, I don't know what is.

Mr. Rather continues to insist that his departure from the CBS News anchor's chair is coincidental. CBS News' internal investigation, the results of which were ostensibly to be withheld until after the election, is still presumably pending. Justice delayed is justice denied.

And in the meantime, Dan Rather will continue to draw a seven-figure paycheck. As the "Sixty Minutes" second-hand ticks to the close of each hour, his treacherous face will still be on camera, and when they cut to commercial at each broadcast's end, Mr. Rather will pull a fine handkerchief from one of those expensive London-made pinstripe suits that Ms. Noonan's column tells us he learned to wear, and he'll wipe his brow and say to himself: "I got away with it."

I lack Peggy Noonan's graciousness and generosity. Grace is a gift from God that follows repentance and penance, and I'm content to let God decide in due course whether Mr. Rather has earned it. For now, I still want to see Dan Rather brought to earthly justice — political and commercial justice, at least. And I lack Peggy Noonan's eloquence to express just how deeply I despise CBS News for continuing to shelter him, and itself, from that justice.

Posted by Beldar at 09:16 PM in Mainstream Media | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar on Noonan on Rather and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Beldar Fisks Noonan on Rather from Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog

Tracked on Dec 2, 2004 11:47:50 PM

» Beldar on Noonan on Rather from Josh's Weblog

Tracked on Dec 3, 2004 10:44:51 AM

» Beldar on Noonan on Rather from Josh's Weblog

Tracked on Dec 3, 2004 10:46:48 AM

» Munilawyer On Beldar On Noonan On Rather: Sue the from Muni Lawyer

Tracked on Dec 3, 2004 3:47:24 PM

» Beldar on Noonan on Rather from Abstract Musings

Tracked on Dec 7, 2004 11:59:46 AM


(1) Robin Roberts made the following comment | Dec 2, 2004 9:49:46 PM | Permalink

Well said.

(2) The Owner's Manual made the following comment | Dec 2, 2004 9:58:21 PM | Permalink

While I admire the wellsprings of Ms Noonan's grace and generosity, I often find in her writing a diabetic treacle. Much like Art Buchwald, a very talented columnist of old, her reluctance to take a edged stance when it is called for relegates her to softpedaller's row, enablers of the vicious.

(3) Kent Budge made the following comment | Dec 2, 2004 10:17:47 PM | Permalink

Do keep in mind that Peggy Noonan worked for Dan Rather and that, according to her article, it was during this time that she realized that her own impulses were conservative rather than liberal. It would be surprising if she did not see Rather as a tragically flawed human being rather than as a murderer of the truth. She writes the way I would write of an old friend who went wrong.

(4) MeTooThen made the following comment | Dec 2, 2004 10:23:46 PM | Permalink


I too, read with great interest Ms. Noonan's essay regarding Mr. Rather.

Yes, it was quite gracious. And yes, it speaks well of Ms. Noonan.

Your rage is palpable, but in no way do I find it offensive.

Admittedly, it is shocking to read, understandable, but shocking nonetheless.

Why is it that an amateur, Internet writer has to be the only one to succinctly and accurately distill the essence of the Rathergate scandal, and not the NY Times, CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, etc.?

(5) elmer made the following comment | Dec 2, 2004 10:36:07 PM | Permalink


(6) Merle Adams made the following comment | Dec 2, 2004 11:12:14 PM | Permalink

You have to go back in the history of network news to understand why Rather et all came to occupy the positions they did vis a vis network news.

Murrow made and probably deservedly so a huge reputation as a reporter in WW II. He was not the first great name in radio news as witness Lowell Thomas, Raymond Gram Swing, Elmer Davis, Boake Carter, Heatter, etc. The end of the war spawned a galaxy of stars such as Murrow, Collingwood, Sevareid, Larry Lasseur,Hottelet, etc. Most of the foreign men who were stationed abroad sent back dispatches which were essentially "facts" or news that were untainted by personal opinion. Sevareid was a "color" man so to speak who gave a three or 4 minute spot to put the events into perspective, liberally quoting Santyana, etc. I can vividly recall the yearly roundup of all the foreign correspondents (around Xmas) when Murrow and the men would have a roundtable discussion of what the year was about, and several would call in from their post, e.g. Burdett in Rome.In retrospect, while fascinating, they were singularly inaccurate in terms of what was to transpire in the coming year. No better than the average person, their erudition notwithstanding. I don't recall when that ended, but somewhere in the 60's or 70's a new modus operandi came into being. It was perfectly enunciated by Max Frankel a former big wheel at the NYT. He set forth the doctrine that the world was far too complex for the ordinary citizen to comprehend, and that the news had to be interpreted to be meaningfull. From that time the commentators began to tell us (manage the news) what it meant. I am sure that in their misguided zealousness, they truly believed that their verson or perspective was true. However it soon became obvious by gesture or inflection, that they were liberal to a fault. How they got that way personally is another story. Was the public better informed? Hardly, because the majority of college students taking geography could not locate Saigon, Helsinki, etc. on blank maps of the world.

As their power became a fait accompli, it became impossible to penetrate what was fed as gospel.

The first cracks in this came with talk radio (Limbaugh, Grant, etc.) and for the first time conservatives heard something more than liberal blather. This accelerated with the Blogsters and Fox News. The public was well served when John Cameron Swaze read the news each evening without prejudice or bias. Perhaps we are returning to that happy state . The blogsters will play an increasingly greater role in this pursuit.

(7) George made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 12:49:26 AM | Permalink

Peggy Noonan truly does write great stuff.
But, this time, you outdid her. That's quite
an accomplishment.

(8) Steel Turman made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 12:55:24 AM | Permalink

Well written Beldar and so very true. Rather
personified an almost Papal presence 'giving
us the news' ... much as an edict. The sheer
audacitiy is beyond my pale. I think the road
has forked and we are now more able to acquire
NEWS that is without slant. Pray more avail
themselves of this as time goes on.

To the poster who mentoned Swaze (sp) ...
he was my father's favorite UNTIL he 'retired'
and started hawking Timex watches ... my dad
screamed "WHORE" everytime those 'keeps on
ticking' commercials came on. That was how
I was raised. Thankfully.

(9) Maxim made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 1:13:49 AM | Permalink

Thank you, Beldar, for voicing what nobody in the MSM will.

As a second course to Beldar's comments, I'd recommend:


At this site, blogger BummerDietz has been busy laying out the Texas legal case against CBS for quite a while. I don't remember where I first got the link to it. Since I'm not a lawyer, I have no idea how valid the analysis is. But I can say that I'd really enjoy seeing CBS get pulled through the courts on this one.

(10) Boger made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 3:45:05 AM | Permalink

Nice piece, Beldar. But how do you really feel about Danny'boy?

I know this is totally naive and pollyannaish of me, but if CBS' investigation finds him as dirty as you are convinced he is (proactively conspiring to obtain an election outcome), maybe they will can him from 60 Minutes. If they arrive anywhere near your conclusion, there will be a loud and continuing cry from the masses to dump him from 60. And of course, all it will take will be a couple of sponsors to take their bidness elsewhere. Hey, it could happen.

Personally, I don't think you have to lament that justice won't be served. I think it already is, with one word, Rathergate. Its going to be forever, baby. His own name in the 40th Edition of Websters, later the OED. His professional gravestone will always carry it, and I think his personal and journalistic ego is such, that nothing will be more painful. I love the irony. I can just hear Tricky saying, How do you like it, m.....f....r ?

(11) F. Rottles made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 7:36:57 AM | Permalink

Beldar, I think that Noonan's words establish the context and the character for Rathergate. The stage is set for what is to follow. Including the follow-through of the very arugment you have just made in your own remarks.

Noonan's review of Rather's career constitutes a devestating obituary. And not just of Dan Rather, TV newsman.

Probably the worst moment in his career, because it was arguably the one most obvious in showing bias and a political agenda, was the time Dan tried to beat up George H.W. Bush live, on the "CBS Evening News," over Iran-contra. Mr. Bush decked him instead, and with a question that reverberates: How would you like your whole career to be judged by one mistake? I do not doubt that CBS News that night thought it was going to take down a vice president, and wanted to. And was embittered by its failure. Which may have contributed to the years long, Ahab-like quest of producer Mary Mapes to bring down George W. Bush with documents it took bloggers less than 24 hours to reveal as fabrications.

She made apt comparisons both directly and implicitly. Watergate and Rathergate. Rather the Texan with a strong Texas accent who was groomed by the establishment vs GWB the Texan who has been mocked for his manner of speaking and who has been misunderestimated by the eastern establishment of which Rather had become a leading symbol. Rather the cheap shot artist on prime time vs VP Bush who threw a clean hard-hitting counterpunch. And that bigtime smackdown was followed a decade later by Rather's self-inflicted knock-out punch in the form of the career-ending headline, "Rather Retires Under Cloud After Forged Documents Story."

I have a friend who once said in the middle of a conversation, "Don't understand me too quickly." Don't categorize me; don't decide you broke the code. Sit back and watch; it's more interesting than you may know. Which gets me to Dan Rather ....

Devestatatingly, Noonan concluded by closing the door on the liberal establishment's claim to superior virtue in the form of plentiful nuance mixed with dollops of hubris (a la the self-styled gutsy closer, John f. Kerry):

People are complicated, careers are complicated, motives are complicated. Dan Rather did some great work on stories that demanded physical courage. He loved the news, and often made it look like the most noble of enterprises. He had guts and fortitude. Those stories he covered that touched on politics were unfortunately and consistently marred by liberal political bias, and in this he was like too many in his profession. But this is changing. The old hegemony has given way. The old dominance is over. Good thing. Great thing. Onward.

Upon reading this seemingly charitable essay written by a former colleague, I doubt Rather and his buddies will fail to recognize the very faint praise and perfunctory dismissal.

Noon has cut precisely and deeply, I think.

(12) F. Rottles made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 7:42:07 AM | Permalink

Noonan has cut precisely and deeply, I think.

PS: Loved the way she described the liberal funk at CBS when Reagan was elected. It evoked the mood that we've all witnessed among the same crowd this election year. Noonan is a crafty writer.

(13) Carlos V made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 9:39:47 AM | Permalink

Noonan and Beldar get to the same spot. Noonan the artist, Beldar the painter. Noonan the takes Rather down, and Rather doesn't know it until he is down. Beldar takes him down with a right cross, lest there be any doubt.

What ever happened to the CBS independent investigation?

(14) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 9:49:14 AM | Permalink

if CBS' investigation finds him as dirty as you are convinced he is . . . maybe they will can him from 60 Minutes.

That's a huge "if." I fully expect the report to be a greater fraud than Rathergate itself. Full of bland euphenisms about how "the process" innocently broke down, or how "safeguards" were accidentally bypassed in a good-faith effort to keep the public informed. As it is, the scope of the report is limited to Rather's conduct before the broadcast, so there will be no talk about how he accused bloggers of being partisan operatives, broadcast interviews with phony experts, never bothered to report the findings of real experts, accused Laura Bush of calling the documents forgeries "without proof", never put interviews with the Killian family or Col. Staudt on the air, etc. etc.

(15) Kent Budge made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 9:57:26 AM | Permalink

liberally quoting Santyana


I doubt many liberals would care to quote Santayana today.

(16) Tim Smith made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 11:16:36 AM | Permalink

Great post!! Reminds me of the joke about the construction crew that was working next door to the convent. One day the head Sister came to the foreman and asked whether or not he could do something about the coarse language of the work crew. At a loss for what to tell her, he finally said, as tactfully as he could. "Sister, these are hard working men, and they call a spade a spade" She responded surprisingly. "They do NOT!! They call it a F***ing shovel!!! What CBS et.al. did, was criminal, and they need to be prosecuted for it.

(17) Boger made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 12:42:59 PM | Permalink


Well this is going to be a little test to see if CBS has learned anything. If they put junk out there, the blogosphere is going to eat 'em alive, and their integrity nightmare will continue. If they want to get well as quickly as possible, they need to publish Thornburg's full report, every last syllable, comma, indentation, etc., on their website. Then they can say: Everything we know about the facts of Rathergate are in Thornburg's report to us; if you have problems with the findings, your beef is with Thornburg. As I say, that would be the most transparent way to handle this and get the house of Murrow and Cronkite back on the path of righteousness. Hey, it could happen. (But it won't. Their dodge is going to be that to publish all the facts about the actors in this debacle, will leave them open to slander and libel suits.)

I guess we are looking at Dec 10 for the next, but not last, chapter in Rathergate. Again, don't you see how Dan is going to just love being the eternal journalism Case Study in How not to do it? Nice legacy, pardner.

(18) Neo made the following comment | Dec 3, 2004 8:41:11 PM | Permalink

I find the idea of the "Nixon analogy" to be spot on.
Most of the RatherGate damage wasn't done with the initial story shown on CBS, but rather with Rather et al's refusal to admit that they had botched the story; much like the aftermath of Watergate was more damaging to Nixon than the actual breakin.

(19) bill j made the following comment | Dec 4, 2004 7:46:18 AM | Permalink

Beldar--Good Post!
I, too, have long admired Ms. Noonan's efforts--would that I could turn a phrase as she does. Her article has bothered me since I read it. It was kind, well balanced, and I was leaning toward a bit of forgiving until the last two paragraphs. Then, her house came tumbling down. She laid the blame for Dan's transgressions on his environment--the one to which he had to adapt. It wasn't His fault! Totally turned me off--Her paper went from a solid B+ to a D and I would add the note--Baldardash!

(20) jb made the following comment | Dec 4, 2004 9:43:09 AM | Permalink

This is slightly OT, but something that makes me happy to think about. Most of us are are proud card-carrying members of the VRWC, and we include Ms. Noonan as one of us. Yet, she found it in her heart to try to write of Rather's disgrace in the best possible light, and the process clarifying his essential evilness for all to see. And we VRWCers have a discussion of it, here and elsewhere, that is civil and respectful; the most negative word used is "balderdash."

I can't imagine a similar discussion occurring at any of the lefty websites. I can't imagine one of Kerry's speechwriters writing in a sypathetic vein about, for example, Rush's drug problem or Bill Bennett's gambling problem, with a reasonable discussion following.

Yet another reason I'm grateful to be on this side.

(21) profwalker made the following comment | Dec 4, 2004 10:03:08 AM | Permalink

You do NOT lack eloquence.

(22) Morgan made the following comment | Dec 4, 2004 2:06:19 PM | Permalink

Great post!
A legal question: Given that the Sullivan case made it very difficult to prove libel against a "public figure" (and courts have taken "public figure" to rather ridiculous extremes) in your professional judgment, does GWB have a potential libel case against Rather and CBS? (For that matter, does broadcast material constitute libel or slander?)
It seems to me that there could be a rather easy showing of malice on the part of the CBS staff. Moreover, Rather himself got Andy Heyward on the hook just prior to broadcast so it would go to the top of the News Division at any rate, if not to Les Moonves himself.
I would appreciate your professional judgment.
Finally, do you think CBS News would survive discovery action in such a case? Or is there discovery in cases of libel/slander?

(23) Donna made the following comment | Dec 4, 2004 9:04:19 PM | Permalink

Seems to me, the proper term for the documents would be fake, rather than forged. Or is there really no difference?

(24) Terry Gain made the following comment | Dec 4, 2004 10:20:45 PM | Permalink

Why is it that an amateur, Internet writer has to be the only one to succinctly and accurately distill the essence of the Rathergate scandal, and not the NY Times, CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, etc.?
Posted by: MeTooThen on December 2, 2004 10:23 PM |

Dear MeTooThen

The "Amateur" to whom you refer is a trial lawyer,which means he's better educated than most of those who toil at the above-noted business establishments and he does more difficult work with fewer resources. A trial lawyer must be producer, director, writer, actor, acting coach, researcher, debater, psychologist, philosopher, field general and the reasonable voice of his or her client's cause all rolled into one.

I agree that Beldar has succintly and thoroughly summarized the case against Rather. His post should be saved by anyone who wants a pithy summary of Rather's attempted fraud on the American electorate.

Terry Gain (a trial lawyer)

(25) Machias Privateer made the following comment | Dec 5, 2004 6:10:08 AM | Permalink

You've fallen for the cult of personality surrounding the correspondents of CBS, especially Edward R. Murrow? The conventional wisdom is that he brought down Joe McCarthy. Have we forgotten Joseph Welch who asked "have you lost all sense of decency..." another clean, quick verbal KO. And how the media howls over paying for sources, yet Murrow paid for a transcript of McCarthy's statement before he made his signature broadcast. Murrow paid sources! Wait 'til the National Enquirer finds that out! CBS has much to learn from the National Enquirer as Bummer Dietz so clearly explains on his scyllacharibdis website.

(26) Thucydides made the following comment | Dec 5, 2004 8:22:11 AM | Permalink

Peggy Noonan lives in NYC and knows the legacy media people and other liberals well. While this piece might seem to many of us to be too soft on Dan Rather, it will penetrate the blue circles in a way that something more forthright would not. It goes right to the heart of the matter: the adoption of wacky liberal values as a matter of fashionability, conformity, and careerism by naive wannabes come to the big city. This pretty much describes all of them. This piece should not be understood as aimed at Dan Rather, but at the whole audience of chattering class liberals, and as such, it is devastating and will have effect.

(27) MachiasPrivateer made the following comment | Dec 5, 2004 8:48:51 AM | Permalink

Can we predict what Thornburg will say on December 10? He is in quite a pickle and what is his best way out? Let us assume arguendo he has proof that at least two of the National Guard documents are fraudulent fakes (AKA forgeries). My first question is do corporations have Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination? My guess is no, only individuals have such protection. So if he admits the fraud and Bummer Dietz is correct that two fakes equals a felony, he is admitting someone has committed a felony. He also should be able to discern the guilty party. He now has inside knowledge of the commission of a crime. My non-lawyer advice would be to hurry off to the U S Attorney’s office. To do otherwise would seem to be entering the world of misprision of a felony. So his best action would be to come forward and say to the assembled press, “We have turned over the information discovered to the Justice Department and will have no further comment.” Certainly, the rules of legal ethics are much more formalized and subject to enforcement than journalistic ethics are. The MSM media think they have a beef over immunity with the likes of Judith Miller of the NYT. Wait to they see what’s in store for them now! The Insurgency of the Pajamahadeen.

(28) Allen Lewis made the following comment | Dec 5, 2004 6:24:51 PM | Permalink

Thanks for linking the Noonan column and your thoughts about it. Both pieces were masterpieces in their own ways: Noonan's for being a personal summation of a man she worked with, obviously liked, and yet disagreed with philosophically and ethically; yours for being an expression of professional disgust at the blatant bias and hubris of Dan Rather and CBS "News."

A wonderful experience. Thank you!

(29) heather made the following comment | Dec 5, 2004 7:09:38 PM | Permalink

OT, but not really: CSpan ran one of those naval gazers today, featuring 'reporters' from the Washington Post and USA Today, talking about The Media.

What struck me was the universal opinion of EVERYONE on that panel that the Swift Boat attacks had no basis in fact. When someone suggested that perhaps maybe the MSM could have actually investigated the allegations, this woman from the Washington Post (? her name was Dottie Lynch)said that the problem would be that most readers only read the first couple of sentences of a 'complex' article, and therefore may not understand the whole knotty issue. Therefore, the MSM did not go after the story, aside from checking with the Kerry campaign of course, which had shown these star reporters that there was nothing to the Swift Boat story.

Then, another of these star reporters noted that it is really difficult for all of them, now that their reporting receives such close fact checking and negative feedback from 'out there in blogger land.' Like, it is realllly haarrrd for them.

(30) SemiPundit made the following comment | Dec 6, 2004 12:25:43 PM | Permalink

My impression of Ms. Noonan's writing has mostly been one of self-importance, pompousness, and drama, as if those who will read it won't be born for a couple of hundred years. But then, to each his own.

Someone dropping in from another planet would think that all of you already have evidence you can lay on the table that Mr. Rather and his organization purposely entered into a conspiracy to defraud the American people and to conceal that act as well. You are really good at wishful thinking, though.

How would you characterize the Fox News organization as to agenda and bias?

Finally, face it--Limbaugh is desperately trying to save a career in entertainment.

(31) Dr. Fager made the following comment | Dec 6, 2004 1:55:34 PM | Permalink

I would characterize Fox as no worse than CBS. Obviously, you wouldn't ask the question if you could see that.

Rather and CBS are indefensible and time will bear that out.

To paraphrase the old sheriff in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, "Their times is over".

(32) SemiPundit made the following comment | Dec 6, 2004 2:45:39 PM | Permalink

Beldar mentions the "eastern liberal elite".

Are there other elites? Southern conservative elites perhaps? Western neoconservative elites? I have puzzled for some time over just who the term refers to.

Somehow I can't see William Kristol sitting on the porch of a country store in Alabama, spitting tobacco and spinning yarns with the boys.

Somehow I have trouble picturing Laura Ingraham, a Dartmouth graduate, giving a commencement address at Bob Jones University.

Somebody help me out here. Are there a bunch of "elites" on one end of the rope and the rest of the "just regular folks" on the other end?

(33) Where's The Beef? made the following comment | Dec 6, 2004 3:21:08 PM | Permalink

Diversions, Semi-Pundit.

Address the topic of the thread more directly:
"Rather Retires Under Cloud After Forged Documents Story."

(34) Ex-Chief made the following comment | Dec 6, 2004 8:04:54 PM | Permalink

Let us not forget Dan Rather on the eve of Gulf War I sneaking around on the front lines, Broadcasting live, and revealing that the attack was going to start. He should still be rotting in a Saudi jail for that.

(35) Boger made the following comment | Dec 7, 2004 12:37:08 AM | Permalink

"What struck me was the universal opinion of EVERYONE on that panel that the Swift Boat attacks had no basis in fact...." - heather

The Washington Post. They can investigate the hell out of a friendly fire accident that killed a celebrity football player, but when it comes to digging into the military record of a presidential candidate who their own reporting showed had fraudulently, and therefore dishonorably, bolted a war zone, No Can Do.

On August 23, 2004, The Washington Post ran an article by Michael Dobbs about Kerry's military record, specifically the Bay Hap River operation of March 13, 1969. It was on this operation that JFK received his third Purple Heart--the one that got him out of Vietnam. The online version of Dobbs' article had a link to the After Action Report for March 13 on Kerry's website. The WIA section of the report read as follows: "LTJG JOHN F. KERRY, USNR, HSHRAPNEL WOUND LEFT BUTTOCK AND CONTUSION RT FOREARM (MINOR). About the buttock shrapnel wound, Dobbs wrote this: "As they were heading back to the boat, Kerry and Rassmann decided to blow up a five-ton rice bin to deny food to the Vietcong. In an interview last week, Rassmann recalled that they climbed on top of the huge pile and dug a hole in the rice. On the count of three, they tossed their grenades into the hole and ran. Evidently, Kerry did not run fast enough. 'He got some frags and pieces of rice in his rear end,' Rassmann said with a laugh. 'It was more embarrassing than painful.' At the time, the incident did not seem significant, and Kerry did not mention it to anyone when he got back on the boat."

Well, Mr. Dobbs, you can't get a Purple Heart for a self-inflicted wound (regulations say the cause has to be enemy fire). What about the contusion? The definition of a contusion is, "injury to tissue usually without laceration; a bruise." Thus Kerry sustained a minor bruise. Sorry Mr. Dobbs, by definition, you can't get a Purple Heart for a minor burise. You have to bleed a tad, that's where the purple comes in. Many of the other Bay Hap injured were MEDEVACed. Not Kerry. To qualify for a PH you have to be treated by a medical officer. There is no available record of Kerry being treated by medical personnel for his injuries sustained on the Bay Hap. Who put Kerry in for the Purple Heart? He did. Who wrote the After Action Report? The SwiftBoatVets offered credible evidence that Kerry did (their analysis is still on their website).

The point is, The Washington Post had plenty of "basis in fact" for Mr. Dobbs to do due diligence journalism about Kerry's military service. In addition to the lack of integrity, honesty and leadership exemplified by his 3, 3, and Out (3 months-3 Purple Hearts-and out, with nary a stitch) they might have smoked out a concealed, other than honorable discharge--the anomalies in his discharge were there for all to see and question. Why weren't the multiple and manifest red flags in Kerry's military backgrdound investigated with the same vigor as the Tillman accident?

The Washington Post. Total abdication of professional and public responsibility. Like the rest of the MSM, they don't report politics, they play politics. In self-exoneration, they will explain it away as "balance." Nonsense. It is chickenguano journalism.

(36) SemiPundit made the following comment | Dec 7, 2004 8:03:24 AM | Permalink

Why is it good to have less freedom of the press as opposed to more of it?

(37) Clayton made the following comment | Dec 8, 2004 7:46:20 AM | Permalink

I haven't seen/read anyone here actively proposing less freedom of the press. Interpreting the desire for more balanced, objective reporting as restricting free press is a mis-statement of the 'facts' as it were.
This issue remains that the MSM, during this election cycle, had/have a rather blatant agenda - white wash Kerry/Dems, and castigate anyone/anything GOP/conservative/to the right.
The loss of the election has not (yet) caused a significant change in this agenda. Any time there is a 'choice' in how to present a story, it is clearly being shown to the worst aspect. The current war in Iraq is a case in point. Contrary to the presentation of the media, there are good things happening. Heck, Afganistan has just put in place its first elective government. That should be front page news, instead it barely gets covered.
There are heroes in Iraq, American and coalition heroes. You just wouldn't know it from MSM, and won't given their current agenda.
Is there a fix or cure? I think maybe places like this and loss of market share (free markets at work) will eventually mandate a shift in msm. As far as the 60's bred US is alwasy wrong attitude, that I can't say.
What I do know is if we won't stand for ourselves, no one will do it for us; that is the bottom line.

(38) SemiPundit made the following comment | Dec 8, 2004 11:26:02 AM | Permalink

I don't see a problem. I watch Fox as much as any of the other TV news networks, and I read from different sources. I get a broader perspective that way.

Why do you want everybody to look and sound like Fox, for example, where they show pictures of battle-dressed soldiers painting schools while unemployed Iraqis stand by and watch? And do you think it is off base for Wolf Blitzer to ask why we are paying American truck drivers $100,000 a year to drive past unemployed Iraqis?

A few people make me almost physically ill to watch, like William Kristol, who cannot contain his silly grin while he is talking about the need for sacrifice and that deaths are inevitable in war. I lay a large portion of this debacle at his feet.

Regarding Karzai, who is providing his security?

(39) SemiPundit made the following comment | Dec 9, 2004 1:13:43 AM | Permalink

Why are Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time going to jail, while Robert Novak is lounging by the pool?

(40) Stephen M. St. Onge made the following comment | Dec 9, 2004 7:17:10 AM | Permalink

      Bravo, Beldar, for pointing out something that almost everyone ignores: CBS News knowingly lied about the memos.

      Regardless of whatever they thought Bush had done, they lied about what their sources told them.  I documented this at length in September, using stories entirely in the main stream media.  But no one there ever said, explicitly, "CBS has been lying."

      I get the impression the MSM have forgotten what the word "truth" means.


(41) Boger made the following comment | Dec 9, 2004 12:15:36 PM | Permalink

I must say that I have wondered along with 'Semi' why Novak isn't part of this legal fracas. Presumably, we will find out in due course. The V. Plume affair is bound to be interesting. Maybe Beldar at some point can bundle the matter up for us.

(42) SemiPundit made the following comment | Dec 10, 2004 1:04:19 AM | Permalink

Hell's bells! Somebody told Novak. Novak published it. Am I missing some kind of complexity here?

But then, we live in a time when the logical thing to do when attacked is to invade somebody else.

(43) MeTooThen made the following comment | Dec 13, 2004 7:12:30 PM | Permalink

Terry Gain,

Thank you for your thoughtful and cogent remarks.

Apparently, I struck a nerve (I am a neurologist, afterall.)

Your points are well taken, but they come perhaps, from a misunderstanding.

Yes, trial lawyers, like many physicians, bring with them to their professional duties, many divergent arts and sciences.

In my above comments, I merely meant to suggest that Our Hero is not a paid essayist, news analyst, journalist, TV talking head, or similar-such type whose daily job is to opine and profess profundities regarding the world and its events. And those that do fall under these descriptions, have failed in their duties by not making an appropriate judgement regarding Mr. Rather's behavior.

And no, I do not think, that Beldar took offense (he didn't write to me to say so).

It appears that you, however, were offended. For this, I apologize.

(44) elf made the following comment | Dec 21, 2004 8:08:45 AM | Permalink

Interesting how Rather is scoffed at and implicated as a criminal but people like Karl Rove and his tactics are implicitly congratulated and emulated by our God fearing citizens of the elitist right.

(45) alley rat made the following comment | Dec 23, 2004 9:02:23 PM | Permalink

I've just read your response to 'Noonan and Rather'. I could not agree with you more. There is only a fleeting justice in this world. Rather is captive to his actions, he is what he is, a liar and a fraud, but the truth is out. He does not deserve forgiveness, and should be properly grateful to Peggy's interpretation, (but is probably not!) Regardless, cheats, once identified, are not embraced, and likely scorned.

(46) bsp made the following comment | Jan 7, 2005 9:47:34 AM | Permalink

An old detective friend of mine told me once that he learned from the liars and cheats he constantly dealt with that there was only one way to lie. For example, if you were caught cheating on your girlfriend or wife you were simply to deny everything and just say it never happened. No explanations or anything like that. That just invites more questions. Just simply say it didn’t happen. And keep on saying that everytime you are asked. After a while she begins to doubt her own sanity and beings to wonder if it really did happen. CBS’s modus operandi……and MSM’s in general once the bloggers caught them with their pants down

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