Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Monday was a bad day for the Kerry campaign. CBS admitted that the documents were bad and that they could not verify their story. Kerry's new Iraq policy was instantly countered with a quote from the candidate himself saying that anyone who thought that we were safer with Saddam in power is not fit to be President. Nightline speculated that Kerry cannot stay with an attack long enough for it to work. The polls show that Bush is way ahead in the electoral vote. States that were supposed to be a given for Kerry are now swing states forcing him to spread his campaign appearances across more of the country and spend money in markets that he thought he could ignore.

Then there was Leno. In his opening monologue he joked that no one has heard from Edwards. "You're supposed to wait until you are elected vice-president before you go into hiding at an undisclosed location." Leno's headline lead with "Geraldo says that Rather makes newsmen look bad."

Then on Tuesday, CBS admitted direct links between the source of their story and the Kerry campaign.

This makes future Democrat dirty tricks tougher. News organizations approached by people with new information will be scrutanized a little more. After all, who wants to be the next one caught?

It might also blunt the impact of Kitty Kelly's new book on the Bush family.

It's interesting how the Left is taking the who CBS scandal. Their response is"Rather isn't biased, he's just crazy."

The big problem here is that it wasn't Rather's story. Yes, he pushed to get it on the air and, yes, he defended it, but he didn't produce it. That was done by Mary Mapes who has been working on the story for five years. CBS even used this figure to defend the story.

What does this say about Mapes? She has been trying to dig up some dirt on Bush for a long time. The basic story - Bush enlisted in the Texas National Guard to avoid the draft; someone might have pulled strings to get him in; and he slacked off quite a bit in 1972 - has been known since 2000. Bush was elected anyway and re-surfacing the story does not seem to be hurting him.

That's why Mapes needed a new twist. In the new version, the Bush family pulled the strings, Bush disobeyed a direct order, and there was presure from above to "sugar-coat" Bush's record. This is what Mapes had been looking for. It was perfect. It was almost too good to be true.

In fact, it wasn't true and she must have suspected it on some level. She should have gotten the originals to a document expert and had him check all aspects of the documents. Instead she had experts check specific aspects of copies. She was doing just enough checking to cover herself if someone asked any questions but not enough to prove anything.

Maybe she knew that the documents were fake. Maybe she thought they were genuine. Either way, she needed them so she didn't do any real checking. If she had, she might have lost the story.

The higher ups at CBS might have been on the level. After all, she had a typewriter repair man who said that the documents might possibly be genuine and a handwriting expert had said that the copies he received might not be fake. Slate points out that:

Investigative reporters also expect their scoops to be attacked, especially if
the story's subject is powerful or shady, so they're emboldened rather than
discouraged by the first round of criticism. We must be getting close to the
marrow if they're screaming this loud
! they think. If the criticism comes from
the competition, they're particularly nasty, as Dan Rather was, when he fended
off questions about the documents' authenticity by saying that the rest of the
media should go after Bush's military record instead of ripping CBS News.

Still, they let this woman chase Bush for five years. This goes way beyond objective journalism and into vendetta. At some point you have to recognize this. If yu allow it to continue then you have an institutional bias.

Kerry (or some of his Clinton people) finally tried to pull all of his conflicting stances in Iraq together. Slate summarizes them.

Will it work? No. This is too long and nuanced to ever make it on the news. What made the news is that Kerry is now running against the war.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in
hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The
satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a
dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

As I said above, Kerry attacked Dean for saying exactly this and Bush is using the quote against him.

Back during the early primaries, voters expected Iraq to have settled down by now so they rejected Dean, the anti-war candidate, in favor of Kerry, the war hero. Kerry has danced all over the issue taking every side at some point. This is where the reputation as a flip-floper came from in the first place. It means that Iraq is the one issue he cannot attack Bush on.

So why did he do it? Did his staff think that Bush would forget Kerry's earlier statements? Were the new Clinton people unaware of them?

Are the Clinton people trying to sink Kerry so that Hillary will have a shot in 2008?

Does the Kerry campaign have so many new senior advisors that no one is properly vetting their new attacks?

Do we want this man to be President?

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