Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2004 / 5 Tishrei, 5765
Thank Heaven for CBS News
In Tom Clancy's novel, "The Hunt for Red October," a Soviet submarine is
sunk by its own torpedo when its overly aggressive skipper miscalculates.
CBS's Dan Rather fired a salvo at President Bush on "Sixty Minutes II" Sep.
8th. His "torpedoes" were four memoranda allegedly written by LtCol. Jerry
Killian, commander of the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Texas
Air National Guard, to which then Lt. George W. Bush was assigned.
The memos indicate Bush was given favored treatment, and that he disobeyed a
direct order to take a flight physical.
It took less than a day for the memoranda to be exposed as clumsy forgeries.
"When in a hole, stop digging" is always good advice. CBS could have
limited the damage to its reputation if it had promptly acknowledged it had
been hoaxed; fired Mary Mapes, the producer responsible for the story, and
identified the source of the forgeries. But Rather rented a backhoe
A week of stonewalling has hugely increased the damage to CBS. When ABC News
disclosed that two of the document experts CBS consulted had warned Rather &
co. before the broadcast that the memos likely were forgeries, CBS seemed
less like the victim of a hoax and more like a collaborator in it.
"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." This was said by the
ancient Greek playwright Euripedes. The gods must really have it in for
CBS, John Kerry, and the Democratic party. All are stuck in a Vietnam
quagmire largely of their own making.
Kerry had a bad August. He and his friends in the news media blame this on
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I suspect the real reason is because
Kerry has failed to offer Americans a reason to vote for him other than his
alleged heroism in Vietnam.
If Kerry is to revive his faltering campaign, he has to change the subject,
fast. He must give Americans positive reasons for voting for him. But he,
the Democratic National Committee, and CBS have plunged deeper into the
The Democratic National Committee had an ad campaign all set to go after
Rather's "scoop." This has come a cropper as both NBC and even CBS have
protested the use of footage from their broadcasts in ads criticizing Bush's
The ad campaign would have been foolish even if Rather's documents hadn't
been exposed as forgeries. Voters are even less interested in what Bush did
or did not do in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago than in
what John Kerry did or did not do in Vietnam more than 30 years ago. The
president is being judged, for good or ill, on the basis of how he has
conducted the War on Terror since Sept. 11th, 2001.
"Get off the National Guard and all that bull," a Democratic strategist told
the New York Post's Deborah Orin. "Every day we talk about the National
Guard and Vietnam, George Bush wins."
CBS's stonewalling keeps front and center a story that is unhelpful to
Kerry. It's only a question of time before the source of the forged
documents is identified. Kerry has to hope against hope that when the
forger is identified, he (or she) will be a loon affiliated with one of the
anti-Bush 527 committees, with no direct ties to the Kerry campaign or the
DNC. If the forgeries are tied directly to the Democrats, "this campaign is
over," said Democratic pollster Pat Caddell.
So it is madness for Democrats to keep beating on Bush's National Guard
service. Why create in the public mind a connection to the forgeries which
may not exist in reality?
Another negative consequence for Kerry of keeping the Guard controversy
alive is that it will be harder for his buddies in the news media to ignore
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth when they throw their next punch.
I'm not a fan of journalists psychoanalyzing candidates from a distance.
But Kerry seems to believe the Swifties have impugned his manhood, and he
wants revenge, no matter what. When emotion overrides reason, bad things
The Swifties say that Veterans Day this year comes on Nov. 2. For CBS,
Judgment Day will come sooner.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
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