This newsday piece (found at A Small Victory ) is just breathtaking. It seems we really do have a reality distortion field and its not the usual bottle of vodka variety. I'm supposed to be working but I have to take a few minutes and fisk it so here goes:
EYE ON THE MEDIA
BY DANNY SCHECHTER CBS's most popular program "CSI" can now investigate a crime scene close to home.
The reputation of veteran news anchor Dan Rather is lying on the floor, bloodied by a mistake he has now admitted, flanked on the political right by "we told you so" finger-pointers led by GOP operatives demanding his head.
As usual its nice to see how far we can go before we get to a disagreement. This is about it. "bloodied by a mistake he has now admitted" seems to be missing a few words like "grudgingly" or "after stonewalling like Nixon for a week or more"
A news outlet once headed by "the most trusted man in America" is accused of being the least trustworthy. With Rather apologizing for airing a story based in part on memos that CBS cannot verify, it looks bad for network news in general and critics of President George W. Bush in particular. And that fits the M.O. of the people behind the hit.
"memos that CBS cannot verify". That's rich You know even the NY Times is calling those memos fake. I'm tempted to break in to a parody of John Cleese and the Parrot Sketch "They aren't unverifiable, they're fakes, they are forgeries, these memos are counterfeits, they're copies.They are not the genuine article.They wouldn't be real if you passed them through a photocopier 5 million times..."
"And that fits the M.O of the people behind the Hit."? Hit by whom? if there was an attempted hit it was by CBS and Rather trying to exhume Bush's national guard record looking for holes, coincidentally in conjunction with the Kerry campaign and the DNC sayig the same thing. If it was a hit then it was Rather who helped set it up.
The story that "60 Minutes" ran charging that Bush had not completed his Texas National Guard duty has now been pronounced a "mistake." CBS News added that "a source had misled the network on the documents' origins." The network promised "an independent review of how the report was prepared to help determine what actions need to be taken."
Why the "quotes"? are you suggesting that we not believe CBS when they try to blame it all on a source? are you possibly suggesting that the "independent review" will be issued with ten gallon pots of whitewash?
Over at Fox News, they were breaking out the champagne when the admission of error came down from Black Rock. Fox, of course, has its own (wink, wink) "standards" and never makes mistakes worth acknowledging. Their playbook in this regard feeds and follows a well-established White House approach: When confronted by unwelcome truths, avoid them, deny them or tarnish the critic.
Fox News branded this dust-up a scandal, a "Rathergate," using a familiar "change-the-subject" tactic to deflect attention away from persuasive charges that President Bush has not told the truth about his military "service." Allegations about a media misdemeanor were quickly blown up into a felony demanding Rather's career termination with prejudice.
This is a classic. Two paragraphs using a familiar "change-the-subject" tactic to deflect attention away from persuasive charges that CBS was caught with its pants down trying to smear the president..
The right-wing attack machine works by personalizing issues and demonizing "enemies" with overheated language and cartoon-like characterizations. Osama "the evil doer" bin Laden gave way to Saddam "the butcher of Baghdad" Hussein, and now John "the phony war hero" Kerry has been displaced with a "lather over Rather." It's a textbook example of how attacks against journalists are used to denigrate news not to the right wing's liking by planting items in the media food chain and cranking up an echo chamber of feigned indignation.
Again the phraseology seems somewhat ironic. Obviously the leftwing would never personalize issues or demonize enemies. See paragraphs above and below for counter-examples of the left personalizing issues and demonizing their enemies.
The Republican National Committee operates its own 24/7 anti-news network to monitor coverage and orchestrate a rapid response. Salon reports that the story casting doubt on the documents was first pushed into the news stream by Creative Response Concepts, a Republican public relations firm. Then, selected bloggers went to work led by an Atlanta lawyer who helped get President Bill Clinton disbarred and was the first who called the memos fakes. His charges spread like a prairie fire through the rabid conservative grapevine and amen corner. The goal: Focus the media on Rather, not Bush. CBS initially stood by the documents, then hedged, saying that even if they were flawed, the story that Bush had disobeyed his commander's order to have a physical was accurate in essence. But it finally had to concede it was a mistake to run the story.
Well now let's see, CRC issued a fairly stupid PR claim which they then clarified with embarassing haste once they had about 5 gazillion bloggers question what they said. Oddly enough (and rather like the original problem at CBS) that doesn't get any mention in the story. Oh and the Atlanta lawyer, remind me what was that about the right "personalizing attacks"? and "rabid conservative grapevine" - demonizing? The goal: honesty in journalism, something that Mr Schechter seems unclear about.
It's possible that CBS was flim-flammed, but TV's need for visuals did them in. By trying to gussy up the story with what producers call "video enhancement elements," "60 Minutes" fell on its own sword, opening itself up to attack. Other leading news outlets including the BBC ran the same story about Bush's troubles in the Guard without being discredited.
Possible CBS was flim-flammed? See comment above about "unverifiable". CBS was "flim-flammed" without a single doubt. What this paragraph is trying to say is that if the sleazy Ben Barnes had been the only witness CBS would not have had a story because of him being a sleazy democratic politician. The BBC wasn't discredited because all they did was parrot the CBS story and throw in a weasel word or two when it got a bit iffy. If I say "Danny Schechter is a dunken heroin addicted paedophile" and its taken up by 500 other blogs do you bother atacking the 500 others or do you go for the source?
Dan Rather has been a punching bag of the right ever since he was targeted for being rude to President Richard Nixon 30 years ago. Conservative journalists accused him of fudging footage from Afghanistan in the 1980s when he took over the anchor chair as the high salaried "Six Million Dollar Man." Some conservatives tried to buy CBS with the promise they would fire Dan Rather the day the "Tiffany Network" became theirs. His critics pictured him as the poster boy of their hated "liberal media."
Oh really? Poor Dannyboy was a victim. There he was forced on pain of torture to take those memos and air that segment and in further mitigation he's never ever put a foot wong before and he was out of the country at the time. Can we have some more excuses here? No doubt he was pining for fjords, tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
The irony is that he doesn't fit the stereotype. Rather has a superpatriotic persona. A day after 9/11 he went on the David Letterman show to proclaim his willingness to do whatever his president ordered. On Sept. 22, 2001, he said he would give the administration the benefit of every doubt. When a pre-war interview with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad raised eyebrows, he tacked hard right in his war reporting, for which he later won the conservative Media Research Center's top prize for best network coverage.
Don't write Rather off. He has had more media lives than the Republican Guard that wants to bury him. He is just this week's poster boy for the sins and screw-ups of an imagined liberal media.
I just love the close. Really there is no liberal media bias. Honest. Trust me. I'm a journalist I would know. Its all the fault of those evil evil republicans.