Sunday, September 12, 2004

"They're Forged As Hell"

Yeah, that about sums it up. Yet another military man associated with the Texas Air National Guard has come forward to say that the memos Dan Rather is staking his career on are a fraud. This time it is Earl W. Lively who, during the era in question, was director of Texas Air National Guard operations in Austin. He is quoted by the Washington Times in their column form today entitled,"Bush Guard papers 'forged'".

For a very detailed account of why they are forged check this site, which has a breakdown of all of the technical reasons the memos could not have been created in the early 1970's.

Okay so now we know the documents are a fraud and we know that CBS and Dan Rather are not willing to admit they are fraudulent. The question is why is Dan Rather willing to end his not so glorious career risking absolute disgrace? There are a number of different possibilities.

1) Dan Rather is willing to have his reputation ruined to ensure (in his mind) the defeat of George W. Bush. That is why he ran the report in the beginning, so it would only follow that he would stand by the story if he was sure it could damage the President. If this is the case, Dan Rather is more disconnected from reality than we all know him to be. For this to be the reason, Mr. Rather would have to still be underestimating the power on the new "open-source media" (bloggers and other internet based media sites) and over estimating the power of the old media (him). After the events of the last few days it seems impossible that this could be the case.

2) Dan Rather is desperately trying to protect the source of the documents. He realizes that if he admits that the documents are fake the pressure to reveal the source will be immense. There are a couple of good candidates for the source. The American Spectator reported when the story broke that the Kerry Campaign had given the documents to CBS. If the Kerry Campaign is the source of the documents and Dan rather is forced to reveal it, the campaign is effectively over. Dan Rather knows this and he may be willing to burn to save Kerry. The second possible source of the documents is a man named Bill Burkett. Newsweek also suggests he may be the source. Ace of Spades has a round up of the history of Mr. Burkett and his long time grudge against the President. It is interesting to note that Mr. Burkett has a direct link to Jim Moore, the man Dan Rather used in his Friday night defense. Mr. Moore, who has written two anti-Bush books, used Mr. Burkett as a source for one of them. It is possible that Dan Rather does not want to reveal that the source of the documents is Mr. Burkett because he has a history of rather looney claims about himself and the President. In other words he is not a credible witness.

3) A third a less likely reason Dan Rather does not want to admit the mistake is that it would accelerate the downfall of old media, and CBS in particular. The less power Dan Rather has, the less he is able to shape events to produce the outcome he wants, the election of John Kerry, for example. Dan Rather probably knew the documents were likely a fraud before he went on air. As Instapundit pointed out earlier, this is not the first time CBS or 60 Minutes has based a story on fake documents. What Dan Rather did not count on was the power of the new media, the blogosphere. Powerline led the way in discrediting CBS. The swiftness of the demise of the story was undoubtedly a shock to Dan Rather. He broadcast the story and within 12 hours of the next business day 60 Minutes was a laughing stock. Dan Rather knows that if he has to admit that he was duped and the bloggers were right, his power will diminish even faster than it is already. The blogosphere is a phenomenon and the old media must be shaking in their boots. The younger generation is already more likely to get their news form cable tv and the internet, if Dan Rather is duped and called out by the burgeoning new media, it is curtains for the old media.

It will be interesting to observe what happens over the next few days. Dan Rather is discredited, the story is known to be a fraud by most people who even casually observe the news and at least one editorial has called for Dan Rather's resignation. Will the Kerry Campaign and the DNC still demand that the President answer questions based on the documents? Will Dan Rather come clean and reveal his source? Will he resign? Only time will tell but it sure that the pressure will continue to mount.

Update:

Hugh Hewitt's latest post contains even more bad news for CBS and Dan Rather.

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.