Tuesday, September 21, 2004

CBS -- Rather Not

I have a very good friend at CBS, so I'm passing on writing about Rathergate in any objective manner.

Besides, some other blogging friends have already done an excellent job of covering it.

Jeff Jarvis here.
Instead of protesting too much, Big Media should learn the real lesson of this news era, when FoxNews (corporate sibling to this newspaper) is No. 1 because it has a viewpoint, when the Guardian grows internationally because of its viewpoint, when bloggers explode because there is an audience for their varied viewpoints: Namely, it’s time to reveal our perspectives, our agendas, our biases. Not to do so is to lie by omission.

Jay Rosen here.
Today's announcement is just one part of a massive institutional failure at CBS, much of it still to be uncovered. When the case is complete, the thread that will seem extraordinary, and most inexplicable, is the ignorant, reflexive and high-handed reaction to the doubts that began to accumulate on the Internet shortly after the broadcast aired. From there they jumped to the news media, which began to find disturbing weaknesses in the memos that CBS claimed were real. (See this timeline of events, perhaps the best resource we have so far.)

Dan Gillmor here.
For starters, the network needs to tell the world exactly how it got the memos, and much more. It needs to launch a 60 Minutes-like investigation of the entire episode -- from the creation of the forgeries all the way through their airing on TV -- to expose the tricksters and explain how other people got fooled. The "confidential sources" who gave them this stuff don't deserve continued protection, as far as I can tell. Lift the veil.

Glen Reynolds here.
HAVING HAD IT WITH RATHERGATE for the moment, and since the post-Ivan weather here is magnificent. I took off for the mountains today and just got back. That leaves me a bit behind the curve at the moment. But here's Rather's statement, and I have to agree with those who think it's not enough.

I want to know where the documents came from, and I want to know why Rather isn't more interested in getting to the bottom of all that -- and in telling us what happened. If he's not willing to do that, he should resign. Or be fired.

Scott Rosenberg here..
I don't think CBS's mishandling of the Guard memos story has much to do with left vs. right or Kerry vs. Bush; it's about the passing of an ancien regime. The twilight of the anchors has been upon us for some time, but with the affair of the memos, the flames are now climbing up Black Rock.

In the end, it feels fitting that "60 Minutes' " vaunted TV news operation was taken in through its ignorance of the Selectric-to-software history of typography. The typed word -- TV's achilles' heel!

Andrew Sullivan here (not a friend, but wish he were.)
[CBS statement: Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.]

If the last sentence is true, then Rather and Heyward must resign. The original error was bad enough; the refusal to acknowledge it is inexplicable. And who is the source? There is no need for a reporter to keep confidential the identity of a source who provided false and fake information. That's the next ten-ton shoe to drop on Dan's head. It's over, boyo. Leave now.