September 20, 2004

CBS and Dan Rather admit forged memos, blogs, and The Pajama Game

Statements From CBS News and Dan Rather

CBS News Acknowledges That, Based on Subsequent Reporting on Questions About Documents, It Cannot Prove They are Authentic and, Therefore, They Should Not Have Been Used in the '60 Minutes Wednesday' Report

Now, compare (via iblog):

VIDEO OF JONATHAN KLEIN [FORMER CBS NEWS EXECUTIVE]: It's an important moment, you couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances, and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas, writing what he thinks.

With Washington Post: In Rush to Air, CBS Quashed Memo Worries:

But in separate phone calls to [60 Minutes producer Mary] Mapes that day, two of the network's outside experts tried to stop the journalistic train, or at least slow it down.

Linda James said she "cautioned" CBS "if they ran it, that the problems I saw, that other document examiners would see. It just wasn't ready. The package wasn't ready. It didn't meet authenticating [standards]. To go at that stage, I just couldn't imagine."

Emily Will said she called the network that Tuesday and repeated her objections as strongly as possible. "If you air the program on Wednesday," she recalled saying, "on Thursday you're going to have hundreds of document examiners raising the same questions."

There's now an outpouring of blather, because this all makes for a good story and talk-fodder: David vs. Goliath, Revolution vs. Dinosaur, New vs. Old Grassroots vs Established, CYBERSPACE!

But there's no popularity and links and echoing to be had in pointing out the simple fact that the problem is not that CBS didn't have the relevant information, but rather they just didn't want to hear it.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in journo | on September 20, 2004 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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"the problem is not that CBS didn't have the relevant information, but rather they just didn't want to hear it"

(Was that pun intentional? :-)

There seems to be a lot of this disease going around. Think of uranium from Africa, trailers in the desert, unemployment reports, etc. Most news organizations don't do enough sanity checking on "news" items to separate the truth from the spin, nor do they report in enough depth and with enough analysis to allow people to understand the issues.

One thing that some of those pajama-clad bloggers do is provide a deeper analysis of events. That's why I read this one.


Posted by: Fred at September 21, 2004 07:02 AM