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Parsing the Coverup
March 15, 2005 6:22 AM   Subscribe

If the same journalistic standards applied to CBS by the independent Rathergate panel had been applied to the Pentagon Papers, they never would have seen the light of day, says James Goodale, former vice chairman of the New York Times.
posted by digaman (22 comments total)

 
Rather got himself in trouble not so much for the initial story, but for his stubborn insistence upon its truth even in the face of troubling new evidence. The funny thing is that while the memo was probably faked, the substance of the memo has been verified as accurate by the secretary who supposedly typed it. If Rather had shifted focus onto that aspect of the story and said he would look into the memo's authenticity I am not sure it would have turned out so awfully for him.
posted by caddis at 7:04 AM on March 15, 2005


That might be true, if it wasn't for the massive effort by right-wing bloggers to divert the attention of the public and the media from the substance of the memo to its typefaces -- an attempt that succeeded fabulously.
posted by digaman at 7:09 AM on March 15, 2005


I know, but I think if Rather acknowledged that there might be a problem up front they might not have been as successful at diverting attention. He allowed them to set the agenda. It also made it harder for other journalists and liberals to support him as it was pretty clear to everybody that the right wing bloggers might be correct.
posted by caddis at 7:20 AM on March 15, 2005


I still have to conclude that the RNC actually planted those documents. Because they are forgeries they were easily dismissed, managed to take down a long-standing target of the right-wing (which had been taking potshots at Rather and CBS News for at least two decades already), and also managed to hugely reduce the importance of the allegations contained in the documents, whom most people probably think is factual in the first place (if they have an opinion at all about it).
posted by clevershark at 7:32 AM on March 15, 2005


Oh, the whole affair has Rove written all over it.
posted by digaman at 7:41 AM on March 15, 2005


What I can't wrap my head around is that in a shitstorm of scandals, somehow this is the one that stuck. Tax-payer sponsored propaganda? No WMD? Gannon? Halliburton's war profiteering? Enron? Systematic looting in Iraq? Government-sanctioned torture, rape, and murder? The list goes on and on and on, and the only person held accountable for anything happens to be Dan Rather? It's absurd.
posted by muckster at 8:05 AM on March 15, 2005


Wizbang:

I'm starting to wonder just how Rove does all this. Maybe it's like "Multiplicity," and there are actually several Karl Roves. Or maybe he's the boogeyman, and liberals frighten their children with tales that if they don't eat their vegetables and go to sleep when told, Karl Rove will come and smear them.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's just so much easier to blame some shadowy conspiracy for your own failings, rather than admit to your own shortcomings and ineptitude. After all, we're the good guys, they tell themselves. Our cause is just, our people are righteous, our goals are noble -- it just can't be a coincidence that we keep tripping up and failing. There must be a greater reason why we keep being rejected by the American people. It must be something evil, something sinister, some sort of plot...
posted by dhoyt at 8:18 AM on March 15, 2005


CBS fucked up with innaccurate info and smeared Rather for it. Bush fucked up with innaccurate info and got re-elected.

Sad to see that the right wingers hold CBS to a higher standard than the President.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:20 AM on March 15, 2005


Or maybe, just maybe, it's just so much easier to blame some shadowy conspiracy for your own failings, rather than admit to your own shortcomings and ineptitude. After all, we're the good guys, they tell themselves. Our cause is just, our people are righteous, our goals are noble -- it just can't be a coincidence that we keep tripping up and failing. There must be a greater reason why we keep being rejected by the American people. It must be something evil, something sinister, some sort of plot...

Or you could just blame activist judges.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:21 AM on March 15, 2005


Tax-payer sponsored propaganda? No WMD? Gannon? Halliburton's war profiteering? Enron? Systematic looting in Iraq? Government-sanctioned torture, rape, and murder?

These are all kooky conspiracy-laden inventions of a liberal media that's gone hellbent and out of control. How dare you smear our Fearless Leader with these baseless accusations?

The list goes on and on and on, and the only person held accountable for anything happens to be Dan Rather?

Rather was a unpatriotic, America-hating scumbag who deserved to be taken down. Suck it up, hippy, and Don't Mess With Texas.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:21 AM on March 15, 2005


I'm starting to wonder just how Rove does all this...

It's his job. That's why he has no official title (he's just a "political advisor"). Glad I could clear that up for you.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's just so much easier to blame some shadowy conspiracy for your own failings

Or maybe, just maybe, it's just so much easier to set up a straw man argument and point to how ridiculous the unspoken argument is... which appears to be what you're doing (what a coinci-dink!).

I mean, if someone were complaining about how the whole election was tipped by this one story, maybe you'd have a point. However that little fantasy scenario seems to be occurring only in your head, dhoyt.

Rather was a unpatriotic, America-hating scumbag who deserved to be taken down. Suck it up, hippy, and Don't Mess With Texas.

hehe... Isn't Rather from Texas too? (yeah, I know you're joking)
posted by clevershark at 8:43 AM on March 15, 2005


America 2005: Suck It Up, Hippy.
posted by muckster at 8:44 AM on March 15, 2005


Or maybe, just maybe, dhoyt, you're unfamiliar with Rove's tactics, and thus do not recognize a classic Rovean move when it's right under your nose.

"Wait -- he acts like a mute, wears a fuzzy wig, chases women around honking a horn, and plays the harp? Certainly the intellectually bankrupt Marxists are to blame for spreading this 'Harpo' thing."
posted by digaman at 8:57 AM on March 15, 2005


A major weakness of the report is that neither Mapes nor Rather was offered a chance to cross-examine the people the panel interviewed. In fact, the panel never even told them whom it was talking to. The panel did not tell Mapes or Rather, for example, that it was talking to the three officers I have mentioned; nor did it give them an opportunity to show that the officers were Bush supporters or even friends of Bush—which Mapes believes to be the case
-- The Flawed Report on Dan Rather
By James C. Goodale
New York Review of Books

_____

why we keep being rejected by the American people.

yeah, five judges in 2000. and 51% (vote count courtesy of the GOP) in 2004. keep patting yourself on the back for the landslides. oh, and all's good in Iraq -- thank llah the GOp was in charge and not the "inept" Democrats, huh dhoyt?


our people are righteous, our goals are noble

well, one side says that torture is bad and Muslims do have human rights. the other side, your side, says that torture's cool and Muslims don't have rights.
enjoy life on the side of the torturers.
posted by matteo at 9:22 AM on March 15, 2005


It's going to be like that for the next almost-four years though -- every time something interesting gets discussed we'll be sure to have to deal with some dittohead popping in to contribute a "we won, you are teh suck" to an otherwise good discussion.
posted by clevershark at 9:25 AM on March 15, 2005


Or maybe, just maybe, dhoyt, you're unfamiliar with Rove's tactics,

Nah. I'm completely familiar. As is everyone at Metafilter, I'd gamble. The difference is, I see Rove as an oily political mastermind with potential for harm, certainly. I just don't leap forward with unsupported "Rove did it!" clichés for every scandal coming the pike, nor do I think it's intellectually honest to attribute every GOP 'victory' to Rove's hiding in the bushes, faking every memo, leaking the Bush 'pot-smoking' tapes, shooting down Wellstone's plane, outfitting Bush's blazer with a magical wire, and so forth. Opinions differ, which is why I linked to the WizBang blurb.

Enjoy the lazy, foamy "He's a torture-loving dittohead!" barbs, though, if they make you feel better.
posted by dhoyt at 9:41 AM on March 15, 2005


Enjoy the lazy, foamy "He's a torture-loving dittohead!" barbs, though, if they make you feel better.

Hi pot, kettle here, so what's that about my color? Sure I generalize sometimes and recognize that I do, but don't fool yourself into thinking that you don't. Again in your latest comment you reiterate the same unmade arguments I was criticizing earlier.

You need to pay more attention to the points actually made in the discussion, and not the points you think are going to be made in some alternate universe.
posted by clevershark at 9:50 AM on March 15, 2005


You need to pay more attention to the points actually made in the discussion

Point made:
Oh, the whole affair has Rove written all over it.

Point argued:
I disagree there is enough evidence for any of us to say Rove was involved. And it could be argued that kneejerk assumptions about the Rove boogeyman (and the numerous comparable conspiracy theories) have actually undermined any progress 'progressives' might have made, rather than helped them gain respect.

--
clevershark: do you discourage a diversity of opinion?
posted by dhoyt at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2005


dhoyt, (as usual) you don't have anything relevant to say about this thread's topic, ie the Rather Panel. not a word. I humbly suggest you either look up the John Birch Society's website and find something on topic to cut and paste here re the Rather panel, or you could simply open a "we won, suck on this" thread on the Front Page.
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on March 15, 2005


There are innumerable conspiracies going on in the world right now. There's no need to try and tie them all together into a Grand Unified Field Theory. The Rather fiasco could just as easily be the work of some dittohead bloggers as Rove.

But it was obviously a scam.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:29 AM on March 15, 2005


dhoyt makes a good point, where is the proof that Rove had anything to do with this? Dan Rather hung himself in this one. When evidence appeared that called into question the memo's authenticity he stonewalled. By stonewalling he gave the appearance that he was more interested in getting the goods on Bush than in accurate journalism. I do not profess to know his actual motivations, but even a lot of Kerry supporters felt difficulty in supporting Rather at that point. His hubris and failure to admit he might be wrong hurt him more than the initial story.
posted by caddis at 10:46 AM on March 15, 2005


it could be argued that kneejerk assumptions about the Rove boogeyman (and the numerous comparable conspiracy theories) have actually undermined any progress 'progressives' might have made, rather than helped them gain respect.

I'll agree with you, dhoyt, with the caveat that I include in the category of patently absurd conspiracy theories the following:
  • The notion that marriage needs to be "defended" from gay people who want to get married by the passage of a new Constitutional amendment.
  • The belief that a small group of men being able to smuggle boxcutters onto planes requires a full-scale war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and a gutting of Constitutionally protected civil liberties at home.
  • The conviction that the traditional role of journalists in questioning the motives and actions of those in power amounts to a Fifth Column or a consistent "liberal bias."
...and so on.
posted by digaman at 10:47 AM on March 15, 2005


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