The CBS Report - Easy Answers
It's out now. You can find it here. The report is pretty straightforward, coming to what appear to be legal conclusions about what happened with the "Memogate" scandal.
The report heavily faults Mary Mapes, and states that she was the cornerstone of the story, and that the reporting failures came because too much reliance was placed on her. Of note, there is a discrepancy about Mary Mapes' contact with Joe Lockhart regarding the story. Executive Producer, Josh Howard says that he told her never to contact the Kerry campaign. She says he approved it. In any case, the report concludes that it was completely wrong to do it as it looked like a supposedly objective news outlet helping a campaign. Who would have thought?
With respect to political bias, the report finds evidence of it, but nothing conclusive. In other words, they laid the blame on hasty and sloppy underinvestigation, a much easier option.
But here's a few "supposes". Suppose this was evidence that John Kerry deliberately injured himself in an effort to rack up 3 purple hearts and get out of a war zone? Suppose it was evidence that John Kerry knew that his 1971 testimony before the Senate was false, based upon a recorded interview where he said he knew it was false, but had greater personal political objectives in mind? Suppose this was clear evidence that then-Lt. Kerry had actually cooperated with the North Vietnamese in Paris and may have committed acts which amounted to treason?
I suppose a few things: If this was pursued in the first place, and that's a big if, this would be the most over-documented and copiously researched story known to man. It would have been vetted by hundreds of personal interviews. It would have been verified by every means available, including the most informed experts known to man, such that all of the details would have had to have dovetailed perfectly before it saw light of day. And the story would likely never have run before November 2, 2004, and even then, not before November 2008, had Kerry won.
No, the bias was not sitting on a sheet of paper, no admissions given, but please. It could be seen woven throughout the tale by decisions made and assumptions held. Contacts with the Kerry campaign and offers from a source to help to debunk the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in exchange for dishing out documents. Ok, perhaps they just got sloppy. But in a presumed effort to avoid offending anyone, the report concluded that political bias as such could not be proven to what could only be a 100% standard. Neither can the existence of gravity because we can't "see" it. But they're still installing guardrails on cliffsides last I checked.
These are the kind of conclusions that allow a few heads to roll, but no reform, which was the whole point of the investigation in the first place.