It is almost beyond dispute that the CBS memos are fakes. They were sourced from a man called Bill Burkett, who has a long history of attacking Bush.
Burkett, to be blunt, is a raving nutter. He had some issue with the Texas Guard not helping him with a medical problem, and decide to personally blame the then State Governor, Gweorge W Bush. Now as a former Prime Ministerial staffer I have had a lot of experience with individuals who have some gripe with Government (which is fair enough) who blame the head of the government personally for their situation (which is stupid) for something decided around ten levels below them. Almost without exception, these people are unbalanced at best or outright mad.
Burkett hates Bush, has compared him to Hitler, has had a number of nervous breakdowns, and is a pathological liar. And this is the source CBS relied on!!!!
Now CBS and some of their local cheerleaders, including No Right Turn and Hard News have tried to push the “fake but true” line. That the documents are forgeries but they reflected the situation accurately.
I’d love to hear Russell interview someone on Media Watch who tried to push that. You see this the intellectual equivalent of a police officer saying “I knew Arthur Allan Thomas was guilty, so I just manufactured some evidence to prove it”.
I also love NRT claiming that they were proved false by not by “partisan wingnuts” but by Killian’s secretary. Ummn do you think that anyone would talked to Killian’s secretary if it were not for the bloggers?
In fact all those who care about media ethics should thank the blogosphere. It will hopefully be a long time before a corrupt arrogant news organisation like CBS can get away with such a poorly verified story.
Incidentially I personally believe Bush did slack off to a fair degree in his service. The war was ending or over, and it is pretty obvious he did the minimum possible in the latter years. You didn’t need to forge documents to make that point.
Whether it matters to people or not is another issue. I think most people know Bush was a slacker in his 20s and 30s. In fact his gumption in excusing everything he did up until 40 as youthfull foolishness, appeals greatly to me, having just turned 37!
Bush has never campaigned significantly (like Kerry does) on his war time service. He has been President for four years, and it is on that record he will be judged.
The irony of the CBS scandal is that they have ironically made Bush almost bullet proof. When all the other dirt tries to come out such as cocaine use, abortions etc, people are just going to assume it is about as credible as the CBS News – ie not at all.
Incidentially people should not assume from my blogging I am a huge Bush fan. I will blog my views on Bush vs Kerry soon, and they may surprise some.