CBS Polling Still As Good As Ever

CBS and the New York Times have a new poll out that looks at the Democratic primary race and at the general election. In the former, it uses a rather small sample, but in the latter the sample gets weighted — as usual — in favor of Democratic voters. Barack Obama has taken a lead in the national numbers for the primary, not exactly breaking news:

A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds Barack Obama with a 16-point lead over rival Hillary Clinton among Democratic primary voters nationwide.
Obama, coming off 11 straight primary and caucus victories, had the support of 54 percent of Democratic primary voters nationally. Clinton had 38 percent support.
In a CBS News poll taken three weeks ago, shortly before Super Tuesday, Obama and Clinton were tied at 41 percent. Clinton led by 15 points nationally in January.
The former first lady has lost her advantage among women, according to the poll: The two leading Democrats now have even levels of support among female primary voters.

How did CBS reach this conclusion? They polled 427 Democratic voters. That isn’t an exceptionally strong sample, and it produces a conclusion that is a likely outlier. Gallup, AP, and Rasmussen all show Obama leading but in a much closer race.
The problems increase when the poll includes Republicans. They show Obama beating John McCain by twelve points, 50-38. However, the sampling and weighting explains the strange notion that John McCain would only get 38% of a general election vote. The sample of 1152 respondents comprises 358 Republican voters, 420 Democrats, and 337 independents. Here’s how they weight the sample:
Democrats – 419
Republicans – 318
Independents – 325
Get the math? They deducted 40 Republicans, 12 independents, and a grand total of 1 Democrat for their weighted sample. The original configuration would have made Democrats 37.6% of the sample, and Republicans 32% – almost exactly how Rasmussen
breaks out party affiliation. Instead, the weighting makes Democrats 39.5% of the sample, and Republicans just a shade under 30%.
If your butcher did this, you’d demand that he take his thumb off the scale. These results are completely useless, and once again CBS and the New York Times report more on their own credibility than on the mood of the electorate.

Rather A Laughingstock

Dan Rather’s lawsuit has certainly brought about a change in his fortunes. He has managed to get his colleagues in the news media to shift their opinion about him almost overnight. Once regarded as a respected journalist who just got one story wrong and refused to admit it, the lawsuit has generated an outright antagonism among journalists that never existed before. Charles Lane of the Washington Post’s editorial page staff writes a hilarious and pointed attack on Rather’s vanished credibility by declaring the lawsuit a “fake”:

I have obtained new documentary evidence regarding Dan Rather’s relationship with his former bosses at CBS News.
Obviously, I cannot identify my source. But he told me during a collect call from Sofia, Bulgaria, that he has access to Rather’s “personal files” and that his typewriter was built after 1966. To authenticate the document, I showed it to some of my kids’ friends, and they said it was awesome. …
Yes, there is another document making the rounds that suggests that Dan Rather is actually bitter at his former employers. I am referring to the 32-page “lawsuit” in which Rather purportedly accuses various chieftains at CBS of “coercing” him into a false apology for the National Guard broadcast and then muzzling him and starving him of airtime to please the White House.
Clearly, this “lawsuit” is a forgery — and a pretty crude one at that.
No man in Rather’s position would admit that he could be made to apologize for a story he believed was true. A straight-shooting newsman like Dan Rather would have resigned rather than obey an order to lie to the public. …
Finally, no one in his right mind would keep insisting that those phony documents are real and that the Bush National Guard story is true.

Lane not only mocks Rather’s lawsuit, but in this case Rather himself and his mannered use of folksyisms. Lane, who Power Line reminds us had to clean up after the Stephen Glass fiasco at The New Republic, clearly has no use for a newsman of Rather’s former stature attempting to perpetuate journalistic frauds. He uses the ersatz internal Rather memo to remind readers of the occasions where CBS stood by its controversial anchor, including when he raised funds for the Democratic Party, walked off the set and left CBS with several minutes of dead air, and how they paid Rather’s $6 million annual salary for almost two years after the Memogate fiasco, even after they replaced him as anchor.
Howard Kurtz can’t find a single media commentator to say anything positive about Rather’s attempt to speak Conspiracy to Power, except for Mary Mapes, who understandably has a horse in this race. However, Mapes has to be dismayed that the three years since the debacle has not won her or Rather any friends. Indeed, Mapes might qualify as collateral damage to the fallout over Rather’s lawsuit. She has been spared the hostility Rather has received for his lawsuit, but clearly the only two people who believe the CBS story and the memos are Rather and Mapes, and now they’re not even getting the benefit of the “fake but accurate” doubt they received from previously sympathetic media colleagues in the weeks after the story aired.
Both Mapes and Rather have become laughingstocks, and even worse for them, cautionary tales.

Dan Rather’s Colleagues Must Be Part Of The Conspiracy

Dan Rather’s lawsuit at CBS achieved its first purpose; it’s put Dan Rather back in the spotlight. After having disappeared into the black hole of HDNet, Rather once again has become noteworthy enough to get an invitation on Larry King Live and the rest of the talkshows. However, if he had hoped to resurrect his reputation with the lawsuit, his colleagues have not been impressed (via QandO):

Rather’s former colleagues at CBS have something to say.
Take, for example, Don Hewitt, the legendary producer of “60 Minutes.” “Any news organization, print or broadcast, has the right to protect its reputation by divesting itself of a reporter, irrespective of who he or she is, who it feels reported as fact something that reflected his or her biases more than the facts bear,” he said in a NEWSWEEK interview. “And if the reporter’s defense is that he or she had been ‘had,’ isn’t he or she someone a news organization worth its salt can no longer trust not to be ‘had’ again.”

This point can’t get enough emphasis, because it shows Rather’s hypocrisy in claiming himself as a victim. Josh Howard, the executive producer that had to resign in the wake of the Memogate debacle, insisted that Rather had intimate involvement in the story, arguing over “every line” in the script. Rather, in his lawsuit, insists that all he did was read what was put in front of him not once but twice, the second time for his “deeply” personal apology. In both cases, Rather claims now to have been fooled into acquiescence, despite his career-long insistence that he remained first and foremost a reporter even as news anchor.
If he’s that much of a patsy, why would CBS keep him around?

Hewitt says he had questioned whether the reporting was biased at a CBS meeting convened to discuss the controversy that began to swell after the story aired. “Let me ask one question,” he recalls addressing the gathering. “If this had been John Kerry, wouldn’t you have been more careful about the story?”

If it had been John Kerry, the story wouldn’t have ran. Mary Mapes had been pushing this story for six years, and even a modicum of research would have shown that the basis of the story was false. Mapes insisted that Bush got into the Texas Air National Guard through favoritism because the Guard had long waiting lists during the period of the draft. However, CNN had already proven that the TexANG had no such waiting lists for those committing to be pilots (which had a longer commitment), and in fact were actively recruiting to fill the empty slots.
The CBS report authored by Mapes and Rather never included that information, even though it had been public knowledge since at least 1999.

A senior CBS News insider said Rather is further damaging his reputation by suing. “I think it looks pathetic,” this executive told NEWSWEEK on condition of not being identified. “It looks like the musing of an older man who can’t let go. This will have no winners. But the biggest loser will be Dan.”
And another former colleague questioned Rather’s motives, declaring that the former anchor is seeking to raise his profile in his post-CBS career at HDNet, a cable channel controlled by billionaire Mark Cuban. “Had he been a big success in his new life” at HDNet, this person speculated, “I don’t believe this would have happened. How do I get myself back into the news? Sue CBS, of course. All of a sudden, people are now talking about Dan Rather again.”

That’s the reason why Rather has gone on this embarrassing, paranoid valedictory tour. He can’t stand not having the spotlight. He also can’t admit his own fault in his downfall, and so the only explanation that he can accept is that Les Moonves, Sumner Redstone, Josh Howard, and Don Hewitt of all people are actors in a vast, Bush-based conspiracy to discredit him.
Unfortunately, Dan does that well enough on his own, and even his colleagues have to admit it.

The Bully Boys Of The Internet

The Dan Rather lawsuit has given more of the TANG story figures a new lease on life, even if animated by the former CBS anchor’s strange brand of conspiracy thinking. The woman who had the most responsibility for the airing of the 60 Minutes II segment, Mary Mapes, hit the Huffington Post last night to deliver a tirade against the “bully boys” who had the temerity to question authority:

It has been three years since we aired our much-maligned story on President Bush’s National Guard service and reaped a whirlwind of right-wing outrage and talk radio retaliation. That part of the assault on our story was not unexpected. In September 2004, anyone who had the audacity to even ask impertinent questions about the president was certain to be figuratively kicked in the head by the usual suspects.
What was different in our case was the brand new and bruising power of the conservative blogosphere, particularly the extremists among them. They formed a tightly knit community of keyboard assault artists who saw themselves as avenging angels of the right, determined to root out and decimate anything they believed to be disruptive to their worldview.
To them, the fact that the president wimped out on his National Guard duty during the Vietnam War — and then covered it up — was no big deal. Our having the temerity to say it on national TV was unforgivable and we had to be destroyed. They organized, with the help of longtime well-connected Republican activists, and began their assault.

In fact, Mapes had been saying it for years, even though the evidence showed that it just wasn’t so. Despite her assertions to the contrary, Mapes had discovered what came out in the aftermath of her TANG story collapse — which was that there was no waiting list for TANG pilots. There was a long waiting list for other Texas National Guard slots, but the TANG had a shortage of pilots, which required a longer commitment. CNN had reported it five years previous to the Mapes/Rather debacle.
But Mapes, who had tried to nail George Bush on his Guard service as far back as 1998, couldn’t take the truth as a final answer. Instead of acknowledging this truth, Mapes decided to press forward with a story that CNN had already debunked. Mapes calls this a “straightforward, well-substantiated story.”
And that’s where the “bully boys” — I assume this includes me in a secondary way — joined the conspiracy to destroy investigative journalism by, well, investigating:

We reported that since these documents were copies, not originals, they could not be fully authenticated, at least not in the legal sense. They could not be subjected to tests to determine the age of the paper or the ink. We did get corroboration on the content and support from a couple of longtime document analysts saying they saw nothing indicating that the memos were not real.
Instantly, the far right blogosphere bully boys pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos. They screamed objections that ultimately proved to have no basis in fact. But they captured the argument. They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the “a,” the dip on the top of the “t,” the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972.
It was a deceptive approach, and it worked.
These critics blathered on about everything but the content.

Mapes doesn’t tell the entire truth here, either. Plenty of effort went into typeface analysis, but only because CBS insisted that these were photocopies of the original memos. Only later did their source, the same Bill Burkett that had spent years fighting his own personal war against the National Guard and George Bush, tell the nation in a CBS interview that he lied about the documents being photocopies. Mapes oddly forgets to include this in her essay, but Burkett claimed in an interview with Dan Rather that the memos were photocopied and his originals destroyed (see update below) specifically to prevent any independent authentication of the memos — and that he lied about knowing they came from the files of Bush’s commander. Instead, he told a strange tale about a “Lucy Ramirez” that neither CBS nor anyone else could find.
And typography was the least of the issues with the memos. The signatures of Jerry Killian turned out to be forged, for one thing, not unexpected when Burkett created them out of thin air. The format of the memos didn’t match the Air Force standards in place at the time. They referenced military standards that didn’t exist. They demanded that Bush take a physical exam well before his requirement date. The story they reported was that a general pressured Bush’s commander to deep-six his concerns, when the general with supposed Bush connections had retired eighteen months before these memos were written. And so on, and so on.
Of course, all of this and more came out in the internal CBS investigation. It revealed Mapes as an out-of-control partisan who willfully ignored warnings about the memos in her rush to air already-discredited allegations against a presidential candidate eight weeks before an election. These are all of the facts that Mapes ignored in her Huffington Post essay, just as she ignored and hid facts before the broadcast that ended her career at CBS.
Bully boys of the Internet? We asked tough questions and did our own fact-checking. In times past, that’s what investigative journalists used to do, before some of them decided to use their power in the media to become hacks and smear artists. Mapes, Rather, and their ilk (fortunately a minority in the profession) cannot abide having Truth spoken to their Power, having to account for their corruption. Three years later, Mapes still thinks she’s above accountability.
UPDATE: I made a correction to the post where I said that Burkett had admitted to retyping the memos in his on-air CBS interview. He admitted to destroying the originals supposedly supplied to him by “Lucy Ramirez” and providing CBS with photocopies. The retyping of the memos — along with forgeries of Killian’s signature — was a different matter.

Rather On King: Incoherent

Dan Rather appeared on Larry King Live tonight, and the most charitable description one can give Rather is incoherent. He could barely complete a sentence, and when he could, he sputtered about grand conspiracies among “Big Corporations” to undermine independent journalism. Declaring that “this is the right fight at the right time,” he couldn’t explain why he told Larry King that he and CBS made a mistake in running the story, only eight months after the collapse of the CBS story.
It’s almost breathtaking in its excruciating wonder. He says that he’s the only man who bring out the truth about what happened at CBS, when he could stammer out a coherent thought at all. Bear in mind that the truth-seeking Rather still thinks that his source (Bill Burkett) has never been impeached, that the type-set memos still haven’t been proven impossible to produce on the Texas Air National Guard’s typewriters of the day, that Rather ignores that Burkett now no longer claims that he delivered the originals to CBS but retyped copies from a mysterious Lucy Ramirez, and that the memos themselves had numerous context and formatting errors. If the truth bit Dan Rather on any of his extremities, he still wouldn’t recognize it.
Of course, Rather tried to steer the conversation away from the documents whenever he could. He now claims that the documents are little more than red herrings, even though CBS proclaimed them as the proof of their story at the time. Instead of acknowledging the fraud of the memos, he accused Dick Thornburgh of participating in a fraud in the internal CBS investigation. He insists that the network forced him to deliver a fraudulent apology — well, more or less forced, as he continually backed away from it. When that didn’t work, he kept bringing up Abu Ghraib, as if that story — which CBS reported months earlier — had anything to do with the TANG story.
The one word that describes Rather outside of incoherent is paranoid. He keeps blaming Big Corporations and Big Government for his downfall, and thinks people like Sumner Redstone and Les Moonves are in on the conspiracy, along with the Bush administration. He held himself up as the epitome of the objective, idealistic journalist, the only one willing to tell Truth to Power. However, when King played a clip from Mike Wallace in 2006 saying that Rather should have resigned when CBS fired the team that produced the TANG story, Rather got rather defensive about having all of his previously-declared integrity challenged.
King, by the way, barely kept his skepticism hidden. He wasn’t buying it, and neither would anyone who watched this pathetic collapse of Rather.
UPDATE: Our friend Bernie Goldberg also called Rather “paranoid” — and that was before Rather’s appearance on Larry King. Goldberg says CBS shouldn’t and won’t settle. The most delicious part of this lawsuit will be CBS arguing that the memos were fraudulent, because that’s the only way they can defend against Rather’s suit.
UPDATE II: A couple of minor grammatical corrections, as well as mistakenly putting Abu Ghraib after the TANG story instead of before it. That begs the question — if CBS wanted to curry favor with the Bush administration, why would Les Moonves have allowed the Abu Ghraib story to remain at the top of the CBS play list for so long?

Former CBS Producer Rips Rather

Forget the O.J. Simpson trial. The court case with the highest bitchiness quota in years will be the lawsuit that Dan Rather filed against CBS yesterday. Howard Kurtz tracked down Josh Howard, the executive producer of 60 Minutes II that resigned after the airing of the infamous National Guard segment, and Howard thinks Rather has lost his mind:

CBS management “coerced” the veteran news anchor “into publicly apologizing and taking personal blame for alleged journalistic errors in the broadcast,” says the $70 million suit, which also names Sumner Redstone, chief executive of the network’s then-parent company, Viacom; CBS Chairman Les Moonves; and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward.
Several former colleagues said they were baffled by the move. “I think he’s gone off the deep end,” said Josh Howard, who was forced to resign as executive producer of “60 Minutes II” after CBS retracted the story. “He seems to be saying he was just the narrator.
“He did every interview. He worked the sources over the phone. He was there in the room with the so-called document experts. He argued over every line in the script. It’s laughable.”
Rome Hartman, a former executive producer of “CBS Evening News” who now works for the BBC, said: “It’s got to be about this lasting sense of hurt and pride. I was flabbergasted. I just don’t get it.”

It didn’t take long for this to get hot — and these people should be sympathetic to Rather’s cause. After all, if Rather can substantiate the obviously faked memos and the already-discredited notion that Bush got preferential treatment in going into the National Guard, then that vindicates John Howard, and perhaps indirectly Rome Hartman. Howard got pushed out of CBS rather than voluntarily jumping, after all.
Rather’s attorney tried to fill the zone with inanities yesterday. He insisted that Rather didn’t really want the money, and that any cash taken from CBS would get donated to “journalistic causes”. That would, of course, come after Martin Gold’s cut. Gold also insisted that the memos had not been proven as forgeries, despite the source’s inability to authenticate the memos and an avalanche of evidence that shows clearly that the memos got typed on a computer, using typeset-style word processing software. Maybe Gold spent September and October 2004 in a coma, and Rather hopes to help Gold pay off his medical bills.
Bernard Goldberg, whose book Bias exposed Rather as a brooding martinet, scoffed at Rather’s lawsuit. He noted that Rather has never taken responsibility for his failures. “This is the man who signed off his newscast with ‘courage,’ and now he’s alleging ‘they made me do it, they just put the words in front of me.’ This is ridiculous on so many levels.” Even after he did take responsibility, in his apology in which he claimed that “I want to say personally and directly, I’m sorry,” Rather now says he lied on the air and only said that because CBS forced him to do it.
Rather finished his career at CBS as a warning to others about hubris and bias. Now he seems determined to rewrite even that denouement to turn himself into a joke. Don’t expect CBS to cave on this lawsuit, and don’t turn that dial.
UPDATE: Josh Howard, not John Howard. John Howard is the indefatigable Australian Prime Minister. To quote Dan Rather, “I want to say personally and directly, I’m sorry.” Three years from now, I’ll sue reader Turner H for pointing out my error.


Dan Rather has had three years to mull over his options after his disastrous participation in Memogate, and he has reached the conclusion that the most wronged person in the debacle was … Dan Rather. After spending the last three years insisting that the obviously fraudulent memos he broadcast as senior editor of CBS Nightly News have not been proven fakes, he now will sue CBS for $70 million for not participating in his fantasies:

Dan Rather, whose career at CBS News ground to an inglorious end 15 months ago over his role in an unsubstantiated report questioning President Bush’s Vietnam-era National Guard service, filed a lawsuit this afternoon against the network, its corporate parent and three of his former superiors.
Mr. Rather, 75, asserts that the network violated his contract by giving him insufficient airtime on “60 Minutes” after forcing him to step down as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in March 2005. He also contends that the network committed fraud by commissioning a “biased” and incomplete investigation of the flawed Guard broadcast and, in the process, “seriously damaged his reputation.”
The suit, which seeks $70 million in damages, names as defendants CBS and its chief executive, Leslie Moonves; Viacom and its executive chairman, Sumner Redstone; and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News.
In the suit, filed this afternoon in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Rather charges that CBS and its executives made him “a scapegoat” in an attempt “to pacify the White House,” though the formal complaint presents virtually no direct evidence to that effect. To buttress this claim, Mr. Rather quotes the executive who oversaw his regular segment on CBS Radio, telling Mr. Rather in November 2004 that he was losing that slot, effective immediately, because of “pressure from ‘the right wing.’ ”

The filing itself approached the status of art in its hilarity. Rather insists that he did nothing more than read scripts in his role as senior editor, especially in this particular instance. The man who insisted that he remained a journalist in his role as CBS anchor suddenly became a modern version of Ted Baxter. How likely would that be for a story as explosive as the National Guard story two months before the presidential election? Are we to believe that on the biggest story CBS News would air that year, Dan Rather voluntarily gave up all of his journalistic cred to just read the TelePrompter?
That’s not the only concession Rather makes about his integrity. Not only did he purportedly allow CBS to use his outsize reputation on a badly-sourced hit piece, but Rather also argues that he didn’t want to apologize for the Guard story after it collapsed. Rather specifically and personally apologized in a written statement released on 9/20/04, and later emphasized his personal regrets on that night’s broadcast. If he didn’t mean it, why did he say it? Has he always been in the habit of reading text on air in which he doesn’t believe, and then emphasizing his personal endorsement of it?
Now, just as the statute of limitations is running out for a lawsuit, Rather now argues that CBS damaged his reputation. He wants $20 million in real damages and $50 million in punitive damages. In reading Rather’s submission to the court, his own admissions paint him as a hack of the first order who had little reputation left to damage.
Can you imagine what discovery will uncover in this case? One might expect that neither party really wants this dispute get to the point where discovery will take place. The internal memos that CBS never released, the efforts to find Mary Mapes’ sourcing, and Dan Rather’s role in all of the pre- and post-broadcast machinations that put this on the air and later defended it will finally all see the light of day. I can’t wait to start reading through all of that data.
Don’t expect to see CBS settle this case, although one might expect them to avoid the embarrassment. Many people in and out of the network have hard feelings about their dealings with Dan Rather — read Bernard Goldberg’s Bias to understand why — and this is their chance to stomp on what little is left of Rather’s reputation.

Ask No Questions Of Your Superstar Journalists

Jim Walsh of the Courier Post learned an important lesson last week, one he relates to his readers in his column today. After listening to former CBS anchorman Dan Rather speak to a Cherry Hill audience about the need for improvement in reporting, Walsh took an opportunity to ask Rather to talk about a specific instance where media failed — and wound up censored for his efforts:

Here’s the scene: Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather is in Cherry Hill, giving a speech about the need for journalists to do better.
“What’s gone out of fashion is the tough question and the follow-up,” he tells an admiring audience of about 600 people at Cherry Hill’s Star Forum.
So how can I, the guy covering Rather’s remarks, just sit there?
When he finishes, I hurry to a floor mike to ask Rather about an issue that will be part of my story.
“Mr. Rather,” I say. “Great suggestions. But you left the anchor desk last year after your report questioning President Bush’s military service was discredited. Key memos could not be authenticated. Do you think the failure to ask questions then affects your credibility now?”
Rather responds with civility — if not clarity. He notes, in part, that an independent review “couldn’t determine whether the documents were authentic or not.”
Eager to please, I follow up: “The Courier-Post won’t run something if we’re not sure it’s authentic. Are you saying it’s OK . . .”
But my microphone goes dead — and the audience stirs to life.
Some people jeer. Others glare and scowl (I can now distinguish between the two). This continues outside as I call in my story.

So let’s get this straight. Dan Rather spent his time in Cherry Hill lamenting the dearth of the tough question and the follow-up. When Walsh got an opportunity, he attempted to provide Rather with exactly what he demanded from the media — a tough question and a follow-up when the first answer evaded the issue. How did Rather and his handlers reward him? They cut off his microphone and made sure he couldn’t finish his follow-up.
And after listening to Rather talk about the supposed spinelessness of the media, how did the audience react to this obvious and hypocritical effort at stifling Walsh’s inquiry? They booed him. Quite obviously, both Rather and his audience engaged in mere posturing instead of truly supporting aggressive reporting.
Has there ever been a major journalist as egotistical and hypocritical as Dan Rather?

Still Rather Clueless

Dan Rather appeared on Larry King Live last night to discuss the outing of Mark Felt as Deep Throat. King couldn’t resist the urge to compare the Watergate story to that of the disgraced 60 Minutes II report on George Bush’s TexANG service, and Rather couldn’t resist the urge to once again claim that no one had proven the Killian memos as fraudulent:

KING: Well, I don’t know another word. You might still believe the story, by the way.
RATHER: Well, without getting into that because the panel, this panel that was chosen by CBS to look into it, they issued their report. CBS adopted the report. I said at the time and I say now, I read the report. I absorbed it. I carried forward in my work. Anybody wants to know the panel’s version of what happened should read the report.
The situation that we had and still have is the last line of this has not been written. I will be very interested to see the last line of this story (INAUDIBLE) written. But, you know, I’ve acknowledged that we didn’t do it perfectly. I wish we had. Others may say, well, you didn’t do it well. They’re entitled to that judgment. …
Now, the documents were a support for those and an important support, and when questions were raised, well, how do we know that documents are true? We had some problems. However, I do want to point out, and I — listen, anybody who wants to castigate this or fuss with this, have at it. I will point out that the panel, which was headed by a President Nixon, Reagan, Bush family supporter and a journalist who said that George Bush one was one of the greatest people he ever met — this panel came forward and what they concluded, among the things they concluded after months of investigation and spending millions of dollars, they could not determine that the documents were fraudulent. Important point, that we don’t know whether the documents were fraudulent or not.
KING: Are you saying the story might be correct?
RATHER: Well, I’m saying a prudent person might take that view.

A prudent person might take that view? A prudent journalist would have taken into account the recommendations of the document examiners who looked at these memos before publication. Every one of them warned CBS of serious questions about their authenticity, except for the one that only looked at the signatures on the memos.
Furthermore, Rather flat-out lied about the findings of the Thornburgh-Boccardi report. Peter Tytell, the man hired by the panel, reported unequivocally to Thornburgh and Boccardi that the Killian memos had been created by a computer. This excerpt comes from Page 1 of Appendix 4 of their final report:

Tytell concluded, for the reasons described below, that (i) the relevant portion of the Superscript Exemplar was produced on an Olympia manual typewriter, (ii) the Killian documents were not produced on an Olympia manual typewriter, and (iii) the Killian documents were produced on a computer in Times New Roman typestyle . Tytell acknowledged that deterioration in the Killian documents from the copying and downloading process made the comparison of typestyles “to some extent a subjective call.” However, he believed the differences were sufficiently significant to conclude that the Killian documents were not produced on a typewriter in the early 1970s and therefore were not authentic.

The report lists in detail all of the discrepancies found by Tytell between known examplars of true TexANG documents and the Killian memos produced by CBS and their rabidly partisan source, Bill Burkett. That information has been in the public record for over four months. To go on national TV and claim that the CBS report does not render a judgment on the authenticity of the Killian memos is false — and given Rather’s proximity and interest in the issue, one must presume that the falsehood is deliberate.
Does anyone at CBS have an issue with one of their featured journalists appearing on national television and lying to the American public? So far, the answer appears to be no.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Ian at the Political Teen has the video in question. And Brainster cuts to the heart of the entire issue with this observation:

You see the problem? When he says nobody’s proven the documents false or not, he’s demanding extraordinary proof of their falsity. But of course, a real newsman should be in the business of demanding extraordinary proof of their validity. That’s supposed to be the difference between CBS News and the National Enquirer.

Boy Howdy, Dan’s Happier Than A Dog With Two Bones

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Gail Shister catches up with Dan Rather, who keeps himself busy nowadays trying to rescue 60 Minutes Wednesday and what’s left of his career. Shister finds Rather in an exceptionally good mood — so good, in fact, that The Dan can’t resist trotting out that Texas homeboy facade that he uses to disarm critics:

Rather, 73, who had an unprecedented 24-year run as anchor, was also surprised at how easy it was to relocate from the CBS Broadcast Center across 57th Street to 60 Wednesday and mother ship 60 Minutes.
“I moved from the ‘hard-news’ side of the street to what we called the ‘carpet-making, basket-weaving’ side of the street. It turns out it’s not basket-weaving at all. That was vastly overstated.”
Though he’s juggling several pieces with his usual intensity, Rather sounds almost, well, laid-back on his new voice-mail message. It begins, “Howdy, this is Dan Rather,” and ends, “For now, adios.”
“I always dreamed of having that voice mail. That’s who and what I am, the way I grew up. Now I’m able to let that side out a little more than before.”

That’s laying on the happiness just a bit too thick, methinks. Rather has to make the case for keeping his new home on the air, or else he’ll be sent to his old home on the range, and he knows it. The Shister article overflows with his glee at having this new quest, delighting in the challenge of trying to convince Les Moonves that a dying quail like 60MW and his already-dead credibility has any reason to occupy an hour of prime-time programming. In fact, his first assignment to this new, hard-edged part of his career was an interview with Jack Welch and his new wife Suzy! That promises to be relevant — to rich retirees that have recently remarried.
Rather’s new producer, Jeff Fager, has a more realistic take on why Rather has joined the crew and the motive for his too-earnest enthusiasm:

Four CBS News staffers lost their jobs because of Memogate, in which discredited documents were used in Rather’s report on 60 Wednesday about President Bush’s National Guard service.
Rather was forced to leave the anchor chair a year before he had planned.
“Having Dan here is a way for us to move on,” says Fager, also e.p. of 60 Minutes. “It’s over. It happened. It was a bad mistake, and a lot of people have paid a very high price for it.”

Give Fager some serious credit here. He at least admits that CBS blew it with their fraudulent TexANG memos. Rather hasn’t even admitted the memos were anything less than genuine. As long as he continues to push fables like that onto his shrinking audience, CBS can expect to have zero credibility, even when The Dan spends his time tossing softballs at Jack Welch. We won’t trust either Rather of CBS any more than we’d trust a desert coyote near an open-grilled side of Texas beef …. y’all.