Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, September 15, 2004  

And the Beating Goes On

I can't recall which blogger I was reading, but one point he made about RatherGate was that like the Stephen Glass hoaxes at The New Republic, this may prompt people going back to see what other stories Rather and CBS cooked.

Well, yesterdy I read an account of how CBS did some story on a Viet Nam Vet in prison for armed robbery who told lurid tales of his traumas from war. The publicity got him pardoned (or paroled). Except, of course, the guy never was in Viet Nam.

Now we have a great story from NRO how Rather and his crew cooked another story on criminal, addicted, suicidal Viet Nam vets, except none of it was really true.

They got away with all of this even when confronted with the facts by actual Viet Nam vets and others. They stonewalled and insisted they were accurate. There was no internet then, and few organs that had enough strength to break through the MSM barricades.

As Burkett notes, the records of all of these vets were easily checkable through Freedom of Information Act requests of their military records — something Rather and his producers simply didn't bother to do. They accepted at face value the lurid tales of atrocities committed in Vietnam and the stories of criminal behavior, drug addiction, and despair at home.

Burkett, who did check the records of the vets Rather interviewed, shared his discoveries with CBS. So did Thomas Turnage, then administrator of the Veterans Administration, who was appalled by Rather's use of bogus statistics on the rates of suicide, homelessness, and mental illness among Vietnam veterans — statistics that can also be easily checked. Rather initially refused to comment, and CBS spokeswoman Kim Akhtar said, "The producers stand behind their story. They had enough proof of who they are." For his part, CBS president Howard Stringer defended the network with irrelevancies. "Your criticisms were not shared by a vast majority of our viewers," he sniffed, adding that "CBS News and its affiliates received acclaim from most quarters . . . In sum, this was a broadcast of which we at CBS News and I personally am proud. There are no apologies to make."

The strategy worked before, but it can't now, and they don't know what to do. Bernie Goldberg needs to wite a new book - Cooking up Frauds at CBS.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:51 AM |