Tuesday, December 23, 2008

RatherGate returns on NPR 

Today we went skiing on Whiteface -- the mountain near Lake Placid -- and on the way I subjected my poor family to North Country Public Radio, or, rather, to me listening to North Country Public Radio. NPR spun me into a spittle-spewing rage over an absurd and transparent attempt to rehabilitate Dan Rather, who is suing CBS News for having fired him just after the 2004 election.

For those of you who were in grade school or on Mars at the time, Rather had hosted a story on "60 Minutes Wednesday" in early September 2004 that offered palpably forged documents to support Rather's claim that George W. Bush had been essentially derelict while in the Texas Air National Guard. Then, when Power Line started asking questions (its "Sixty-First Minute" is probably history's most consequential blog post) and Little Green Footballs answered them graphically and irrefutably, Rather clung to his wholly-discredited story until the bitter end, thereby transporting the Tiffany network's reputation from the toilet bowl to the sewer. Naturally, CBS News fired him. Now, and perhaps equally naturally, NPR is reporting the story as if there were some question about what Rather did.

So, as anybody in my family would have predicted, I started yelling at the radio, and for a split-second wished that I were at my computer ramming the story down NPR's throat instead of on my way to day of fine skiing. Fortunately, that last impulse passed very quickly.

Anyway, imagine my delight to return this evening and see that Little Green Footballs is back on the case, discharging both barrels at NPR's absurd story:

There’s no polite way to put it; this is a steaming pile of unvarnished crap. The documents were indeed proven to be frauds, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and Rather and his lawyers know it. It’s disgusting to watch these people try to lie their way back into respectability.


Sadly, this is far from the first attempt to rehabilitate Rather, and it is unlikely to be the last. Shortly after CBS finished its investigation of the affair, the New York Review of Books published an essay on the subject by James Goodale, the retired general counsel of the New York Times. Goodale's essay was so unbelievably disingenuous and misleading (my line-by-line deconstruction -- "The Liberal Establishment Strikes Back" -- attracted links from all over the righty blogosphere) that virtually every paragraph contained an error or omission that no principled editor would let by. As far as I'm concerned, that one essay was so deceptive that it requires one to be skeptical about everything else published in the New York Review (although I confess I remain a subscriber).

Then, in November 2005, Vanity Fair -- another respected house organ of the fashionable left -- published a comparably misleading and unbelievably self-justifying essay by Rather's producer, Mary Mapes. If Vanity Fair's incessant campaign against Bush had not already trashed its credibility among everybody who is not an unreconstructed lefty, Mapes' essay sure would have.

Now comes NPR's Dan Folkenflik, who obviously made no attempt actually to learn about the story he was reporting. He clearly did not read either the original work at Little Green Footballs and other blogs or the Thornburg panel's report. It is impossible to do either and believe that there is any reasonable doubt that the documents featured, promoted, and defended by Rather were forgeries.

The "60 Minutes Wednesday" scandal was a black mark for journalism because it revealed that the production of news at our most storied television network was not subject to any meaningful quality control, bloggers were able to prove that CBS had been duped by its source in literally hours, and the implosion of the Bush National Guard story fed directly into Republican claims that the mainstream media advances a particular political agenda. The deplorable spinning of the scandal since by such bastions of the liberal intelligentsia as the New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, and National Public Radio have only darkened the stain.

CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 23, 10:49:00 PM:

it's depressing that America lacks a vibrant free press, especially a press overtly expressing different political views. Instead, we're left with propagandizing house organs of the DNC. The echo chamber hurts us all.

Need I even say it? Don't buy the NYT.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 24, 12:13:00 AM:

Unfortunately, the Old Media learned their lesson well from Rathergate in 2004.

In 2008, they closed ranks, utterly abandoned any pretense of objectivity, and succeeded in putting their preferred candidate, Obama, in the White House.  

By Blogger TourPro, at Wed Dec 24, 07:12:00 AM:

Duh, that's what you get for listening to anything that ends with "PR".

If these outlets were more "self-funded" I wouldn't care, but knowing that I'm paying for it just kills me.  

By Blogger Country Squire, at Wed Dec 24, 07:53:00 AM:


How can you say that "America lacks a vibrant free press" when we have Power Line, LGF and Tigerhawk? And you don't need to encourage people not to buy the NYT - just look at their financials. Now that's what I call the free market at work. The death knell of dead tree journalism can be heard across the country and increasingly citizen journalists are doing the job that the MSM refuses to do anymore.

Viva la New Media!!!  

By Blogger Unknown, at Wed Dec 24, 09:17:00 AM:

Unfortunately, NPR has dominated the radio waves in the Adirondacks in a way that Air America hoped to dominate the talk radio market.

There are repeaters on towers in many villages, so NPR is often the only radio station available in the mountains from Malone to Glens Falls. The reception is usually excellent, and even the local folks will listen to it while driving. I prefer silence to rage, so my radio remains off.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Dec 24, 11:03:00 AM:

If you stop expecting the MSM to be things like fair, impartial, honest, and thorough, then you'll stop being so disappointed.  

By Blogger Christopher Jamison, at Wed Dec 24, 11:07:00 AM:

NPR is now on Sirius and XM - so now that they can compete in the open market, can we stop the taxpayer funding? If it competes in the marketplace but receives federal funding does it become a state sponsored station? Is this legal?

Kill the funding now- let them live or die based on consumer choice like every other radio venue. Some will (and have) argued that they would not survive without taxpayer funding but is not that the way a free market works?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 24, 11:25:00 AM:

I've long believed that Rather tried to run a forgery scam because he had seen another one work.
I believe that documents in John Kerry's military record (the part that he released) were forgeries. Kerry "won" a silver star and a bronze star. Such a medal comes with a written commendation. For one of the stars (I forget which one) there are actually three diggerent written commendation, each signed by a different ranked officer and for the others there are two versions.
The only explanation is forgery. Some of Kerry's people talked to Rather or his henchperson and the concept was hatched. Kerry passed the forgers name and number to Rather just like the Upper East Side elite pass around the name of a new French catereer.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Dec 24, 11:31:00 AM:

I've long believed that Rather tried to run a forgery scam because he had seen another one work.

I don't agree. I read the Thornberg report, all 300 pages or so, back when it came out. It is a story of professional arrogance and incompetence, not conspiracy. At least not within CBS. I think CBS, including Mapes and Rather, were played, but that's another matter.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Wed Dec 24, 11:43:00 AM:

So, how was the skiing? Gotta have priorities straight here, man.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 24, 11:59:00 AM:

As a 12 year(1954-1966)veteran of the US Air Force, I LMAO when Rather reported on the president's military time.
Later he did admit that the thing was probably a forgery, but that he thought the content was basically true.
This from a guy who never got out of Marine Corps basic training, now all of a sudden is an expert on the AF?
Reporting like this and "Uncle Walter's" saying the VN war was lost during the '68 TET offensive
were the first soundings of the death rattle of the MSM.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 24, 02:33:00 PM:

Over and over, NPR uses the phrase "the report exonerates" in reference to the conclusions of the Obama Team report.

Is it just me, or isn't exoneration something that cannot be conferred upon oneself?

Can you imagine a White House report on one of the cooked-up "scandals" of the Bush administration being reported as "exonerating" the President?

Neither can I.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 28, 04:20:00 PM:

Hmmm DAN BLATHER has returned at BLATHERGATE dont you get tired of his rediculous mouth and his stupdidy  

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