In defense of CBS
Greg Palast lashes out at the CBS panel, the Times, and parent company Viacom for the CBS sackings. What the media left out in recent weeks: that Mapes et al waited way too long to work on something he'd produced for the BBC five years earlier.
CBS said, "The Panel found that Mapes ignored information that cast doubt on the story she had set out to report -- that President Bush had received special treatment 30 years ago, getting to the [Texas Air National] Guard ahead of many other applicants …."
Well, excuse me, but that story is stone cold solid, irrefutable, backed-up, sourced, proven to a fare-thee-well. I know, because I'm one of the reporters who broke that story … way back in 1999, for the Guardian papers of Britain. No one has challenged the Guardian report, or my follow-up for BBC Television, whatsoever, though we've begged the White House for a response from our self-proclaimed "war president."
CBS did not "break" this Chicken-Hawk George story; it's just that Dan Rather, with Mapes' encouragement, found his journalistic soul and the cojones, finally, after 5 years delay, to report it. Did Bush get special treatment to get into the Guard? Baby Bush tested in the 25th percentile out of 100. Yet, he leaped ahead of thousands of other Vietnam evaders because the then-Speaker of the Texas legislature sent a message to General Craig Rose, head of the Guard, to let in Little George and a few other sons of well-placed politicos.
[See some of the documentation at http://www.gregpalast.com/ulf/documents/draftdodgeblanked.jpg and a clip from the BBC Television report at http://www.gregpalast.com/images/TrailerClips.mov]
Mapes and Rather did make a mistake, citing a memo which could not be authenticated. But let's get serious folks: this "Killian" memo had not a darn thing to do with the story-in-chief -- the President's using his daddy's connections to duck out of Vietnam. The Killian memo was a goofy little addition to the story (not included in my Guardian or BBC reports).
So CBS inquisitors took this minor error and used it to discredit the story and ruin careers of reporters who allowed themselves an unguarded moment of courage. And, crucial to the network's real agenda, this nonsensical distraction allowed the White House to resurrect the fake reputation of George Bush as Vietnam-era top gun.