Monday, January 10, 2005

Feeding frenzy

There's just something irresistible about kicking your competitors when they're down.

The latest media punching bag is CBS News, which fired one producer and forced the resignations of three employees today upon the release of an independent investigation of a flawed 60 Minutes Wednesday segment on President Bush's National Guard service, or alleged lack thereof, that aired Sept. 8. Central to the segment were four memoranda that suggested Bush's family pulled strings to get him in the Guard during the Vietnam War and that he then shirked his duties. The memos are now widely believed to be forgeries, and the investigation revealed that a comedy of internal errors led CBS to air the story before the memos could be verified.

The cable news networks are having a field day with this story. I've seen a couple of segments about it on CNN already, and I'm beginning to wonder if Fox News intends to cover anything other than the memos today. "There but for the grace of God go I" is clearly not in these people's list of words and phrases.

CBS News' journalistic failures were significant, and the network has some work to do to regain some of the credibility it lost due to the memo scandal. But what many people have unfortunately ignored in the rush to stone CBS is that the numerous questions about Bush's National Guard record are just as valid as they were before the memo story aired.

Shortly after the CBS scandal broke out, Eric Boehlert at Salon scoured Bush's military records and discovered more than 30 potential violations of military regulations. Boehlert's work is based entirely on records released -- or not released -- by the White House, and it's worth a look. (If you're not a Salon member, you can get a day pass by watching a brief ad. Or, if you're like me, by surfing elsewhere while the ad plays in the background.)

CBS deserves criticism and shame for violating basic tenets of journalism. But that doesn't mean Bush should get a pass on answering the many legitimate questions about his Guard service.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever met anyone who remembers seeing Bush in Alabama at that time? I haven't. And you'd think they'd be talking.


7:11 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

I let Google do its thing for a few minutes, and it revealed that apparently two people will vouch for Bush doing his Guard duty in Montgomery in fall 1972: an old girlfriend and a former Guardsman who said Bush mostly sat around the office reading. However, it appears that the girlfriend's knowledge of Bush's service is based entirely on what he told her. It also seems the former Guardsman remembers Bush serving far more time in Alabama than payroll and transfer records reflect.

Take those sources as you will.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Nick Beadle said...

But God loves Bush, not CBS News...

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe I could come up with more people who remember me from 3rd grade scout camp.

And what about the old "six degrees of separation" theory. You'd know someone who knew someone who remembered him.

I just keep thinking that if he'd been here, or been here more than just a short time, somebody else would be talking about it. Because you know it's not just a bunch of Democrats who are keeping mum... not in AL.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Excellent point. Has anyone consulted Kevin Bacon on this?

9:50 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Since we're on the subject:
George W. Bush was in Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) with George H.W. Bush.
George H.W. Bush was in The Last Party (1993) with Laura Dern.
Laura Dern was in Novocaine (2001) with Kevin Bacon.

That's a surprisingly strong Bacon number of 3.

11:25 AM  

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