One of the more amusing notions in the report on CBS’ faked documents fiasco is attributing the mess to a “myopic zeal” to get the story on the air. Journalists are in a hurry to get sensitive stories on the air every day of their lives, and most of them don’t bomb that badly.
And, besides, as Charles Krauthammer notes:
“CBS had been pursuing the story for five years. Five years! The Manhattan Project took three. Five years for a minor episode in a 30-year-old byway in the life of the president? This story had been vetted not only in two Texas gubernatorial races but twice more by the national media, once in 2000 and then yet again earlier in 2004 when Michael Moore’s ’deserter’ charge and Terry McAuliffe’s ’AWOL’ charge touched off a media frenzy that culminated in a Newsweek cover.”
But it has taken myopia on the part of the panel to clear Maples and Rather of the charge of political bias (a polite way of saying that they wanted to derail George Bush’s reelection candidacy at all costs:
“To what, then, does the report attribute Mapes’s great-white-whale obsession with the story?” asks Krauthammer. “Her Texas roots. I kid you not. She comes from Texas and likes Texas stories. You believe that and you will believe that a 1972 typewriter can tuck the letter “i” right up against the umbrella of the letter “f” (as can Microsoft Word).”
Were there better things Mapes and Rather could have done with their time?
“Did Mapes and Rather devote a fraction of the resources they gave this story to a real scandal, such as the oil-for-food scandal at the United Nations, or contrary partisan political charges, such as those brought by the Swift boat vets against John Kerry? On the United Nations, no interest. On Kerry, what CBS did do was ad hominem investigative stories on the Swift boat veterans themselves, rather than an examination of the charges. Do you perceive a direction to these inclinations?”
Who was myopic? Well, it looks like it was the panel chosen to investigate CBS. If you missed Tony Blankley’s assessment earlier this week, here is a link and a snippet:
“Let’s start with the title of the CBS Panel: ’Report of the Independent Review Panel Dick Thornburgh and Lewis D. Boccardi; Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP, Counsel to the Independent Review Panel.’ My first question is from whom is the review panel and its hired lawyers independent? Who paid the law firm for its hundreds, probably thousands of hours of research? I assume CBS paid them…”