“When CBS News anchor Dan Rather defended himself on camera and in interviews last Friday against questions being raised about documents he had used to bolster a report on President Bush’s National Guard service, he and network executives considered the case closed,” the New York Times reports today.

Ah, but that’s so yesterday–so old media, when the networks and a handful of papers had the power to determine who’s respectable and who’s not and what constitutes a story. Here are a few of the latest comments on CBS and the saga of the possibly faked documents used in a story impugning George Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service:

John Podhoretz thinks the documents are obvious fakes and wishful thinking played a key role in CBS’s decision to run with them:

“The documents don’t assemble into a smoking gun, but they would have been useful. They might have worked as a delayed-detonation device that Kerry or the media could have triggered during the debates. And we know the Democratic National Committee was going to center a new ad campaign around them.
“Add to this the fact that many people at CBS want Bush out of office and want John Kerry elected, and you get a perfect storm of wishful thinking. What could be more alluring, more tempting than a bona fide scoop that serves a desired political purpose? That’s the sort of scoop you don’t want to discredit in your reporting because your heart and your gut suggest it’s true.”

James Pinkerton sees a paradigm shift in how the media works because the bloggers–“the motley and unorganized crew of Internet publishers and activists, numbering in the millions”–may have taken down CBS.

And, finally, I mentioned yesterday a brilliant blog comparing CBS in the memo matter to suicide bombers. I had lost the link and asked the folks out there to help me find it. I am delighted that somebody took time to send me the link. Many thanks. Here’s a snippet from the essay which can be read in full on Powerlineblog:

“Before September 11, important aspects of our security arrangements were based on the assumption that people, even terrorists, want to live. For example, airlines followed the rule that if a passenger’s bags were checked but the person failed to appear for the flight, his bags would be removed from the airplane. The idea was that a bomb could have been planted in the luggage. But as long as the passenger was on the airplane, it was assumed that his bags were safe, since no one–it was thought–would blow up an airplane with himself on it. After September 11, security arrangements were changed to take into account the new reality (or newly recognized reality) of the suicide bomber.
“When he defended CBS’s publication of forged documents, Dan Rather spoke of the ‘checks and balances’ that ensure the reliability of news coming from CBS, as opposed to news and commentary from the blogosphere. What are those checks and balances? Ultimately, the main check on the danger that a powerful media giant like CBS might abuse its position of trust by deliberately propagating falsehoods is the assumption that the network values its reputation for accuracy and trustworthiness. In the past, most people have assumed that while broadcast networks, wire services like the Associated Press, and newspapers will occasionally make mistakes, and will certainly spin the news consistent with their political biases, concern for their reputation in the marketplace, and even more among their peers, would prevent them from spreading outright falsehoods.
“In the wake of the CBS scandal, that assumption must be reevaluated.”