Fire Dan Rather? Screw that, fire the whole damn news department. Anyone associated with this decision needs to find a new line of work:
The Story That Didn’t Run
Here’s the piece that ‘60 Minutes’ killed for its report on the Bush Guard documents
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Updated: 5:24 p.m. ET Sept. 22, 2004
In its rush to air its now discredited story about President George W. Bush’s National Guard service, CBS bumped another sensitive piece slated for the same “60 Minutes” broadcast: a half-hour segment about how the U.S. government was snookered by forged documents purporting to show Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium from Niger.
The journalistic juggling at CBS provides an ironic counterpoint to the furor over apparently bogus documents involving Bush’s National Guard service. One unexpected consequence of the network’s decision was to wipe out a chance—at least for the moment—for greater public scrutiny of a more consequential forgery that played a role in building the Bush administration’s case to invade Iraq.
[...] But just hours before the piece was set to air on the evening of Sept. 8, the reporters and producers on the CBS team were stunned to learn the story was being scrapped to make room for a seemingly sensational story about new documents showing that Bush ignored a direct order to take a flight physical while serving in the National Guard more than 30 years ago.
Okay, set aside the complete bungling of the Bush/National Guard memo story and its questionable sources/evidence. What jackass at CBS decided that it was more important to air a basically irrelevant story about a thirty year old string-pulling for George W. Bush, instead of exposing what may be the most damaging blow to the credibility of the Administrations case for the war we are in right now, and soldiers are dying in right now, and the current election can actually effect!!?? Even if both stories were backed up by ironclad, indiputable evidence including video confessions by President Bush, they still chose the wrong story to air. What does it take for people (Terry McAuliffe I'm looking at you) to understand that the the National Guard story is a nice appetizer, but the Niger documents are the fucking main course? This is the story that matters!
“This is like living in a Kafka novel,” said Joshua Micah Marshall, a Washington Monthly contributing writer and a Web blogger who had been collaborating with “60 Minutes” producers on the uranium story. “Here we had a very important, well-reported story about forged documents that helped lead the country to war. And then it gets bumped by another story that relied on forged documents.”
Some CBS reporters, as well as one of the network’s key sources, fear that the Niger uranium story may never run, at least not any time soon, on the grounds that the network can now not credibly air a report questioning how the Bush administration could have gotten taken in by phony documents. The network would “be a laughingstock,” said one source intimately familiar with the story.
Heads up, CBS, your network is a laughingstock. Shelving another viable news story because you blew a different one is not going to help you regain credibility. If you don't have the balls to run the Niger story, give it to someone else—or padlock your news department. It's now worthless.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum sums it up perfectly:
So not only was Dan Rather (with an assist from Bill Burkett) responsible for effectively killing the National Guard story for all time, but the resulting debacle has now convinced CBS that they shouldn't air any negative stories about George Bush for the next six weeks — even if they're true. That's some courageous journalism for you.
If this is the liberal media, conservatives can have it.
One wonders if CBS will realize that two wrongs do not actually make a right. I guess they've bought into the New Journalism, in which the facts themselves are partisan, and thus shouldn't be reported.
AMERICABlog has links and contacts to let CBS know how you feel. Go to the comments (below) to read the email I sent...