Out comes the victim card again. Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics condescends to tackle two articles filled with inane logic, here
, defending Mary Mapes, Rather and CBS. But the greater point to these seemingly drivelous articles is that there appears to be a deep and wide support among the MSM types for Mapes and Rather, excusing their conduct and blaming, of course, the Bush Administration for getting them fired.
This particular quote from a group called FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), basically a group of old MSMers enabling the current ones, seems to sum up most of what I have been reading of late:
The lesson of the CBS investigation, then, could very well be this: Journalists can be punished for bad reporting if they have offended the wrong people. If they have merely helped steer the country into war under false pretenses, their careers can continue unimpeded.
That last sentence referred to a NYT reporter, Judith Miller, who reported what the Administration's prewar intelligence was on Iraq's WMDs. The problem with that little bit of twaddle is that it presumes that the reporter had or could get better intelligence than the U.S. government and those of Britain, France, Russia, Egypt and Jordan, which all used different sources and methods but came to the same conclusion as we did. And the "false pretenses" comment lets you know where this writer is going.
But the allegation that Rather and Mapes were sacked because they "offended the wrong people" i.e. the Bush Administration, reveals that these journalists just don't get it
. To reach that conclusion they glossed over a few facts that bear recall.
- First, Mary Mapes' five years of pursuing this story evaporated over 24 hours when amateurs using commonly available word processing and internet software revealed that the documents were likely created on Microsoft Word, not a 1970s IBM typewriter.
- Second, Mapes and Rather ran several deceptive cover stories, and claimed that the documents were thoroughly examined and their authenticity vouched for, which never happened, that Bill Burkett was an "unimpeachable" source, which as a partisan, he was not, and document experts who were contacted by CBS who didn't support the story were swept aside in the hope that someone would give them something to defend. An effort to support a lie, not to get to the facts.
- Third, obviously, caution was thrown to the wind on this story, as almost all journalistic safeguards and checks were abandoned. CBS News was exposed with no defense.
- Fourth, Mapes contacted the Kerry Campaign before the story was released, leaving the impression, if not proving, that she was using her position as a journalist to collude with a political campaign whose candidate she favored. It only increased the sulfur stench when just a few days after the broadcast (not enough time to make a commercial after the September 8 story aired), Kerry released the "Favorite Son" ads based on the same information in the 60 Minutes segment.
- Fifth, and probably most alarmingly, both Rather and Mapes, despite the continued assault on their documents, continued to maintain confidence in them, that they were "right on the money" and that even if they were frauds, that they continued to believe the story they reported. Meaning that even though the basis for the story was false, they still believed the story itself because they they wanted it to be true.
- Sixth, all of these behaviors seemed to ratify the belief held by many that CBS is not about reporting, but rather about advancing a particular political point of view.
To read the words of FAIR, these issues are mere details. So to take their statements to their logical conclusion, journalists willingly using phony documents (willing because they refused to vet them like they would any other piece of paper) to tell a false story about a sitting president in order to tilt an election, all the while destroying their credibility and wrecking the name of the network for which they worked is fine. But the real wrong here is that these people were punished because they offended George W. Bush, the "wrong person", who arranged their firings with CBS executives. Of course, this presumes that CBS cares an iota about Bush, let alone whether is offended or not, and that Bush was actually offended. I somehow believe that watching one of his most obnoxious detractors have a political hit piece backfire in his face bringing his credibility and his career down in flames was just a bit satisfying to the President.
But funny stuff aside, this mindset is chilling. To these journalists, fake, politically motivated hit stories are not as much a concern as excusing the reporters purveying them. I think this fills in numerous blanks about the state of the profession and how seriously we can take their political reporting.