CBS Bias and Kerry Camp Collusion: The Beginning of the End
If there was ever a doubt in anyone's mind about bias at CBS, let this AP story put those doubts promptly to rest.
Kerry advisor Joe Lockhart has said that CBS 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes called him and suggested that he call Bill Burkett. Burkett is the infamous and discredited 'source' for CBS's long touted and undeniably discredited documents used as the basis for Dan Rather's attack on President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service.
1. Why would an 'objective' news producer call a Presidential Campaign official of either party to contact his/her source in a story because they could be helpful to that campaign?
"Lockhart said Mapes asked him the weekend before the story broke to call Burkett. "She basically said there's a guy who is being helpful on the story who wants to talk to you," Lockhart said, adding that it was common knowledge that CBS was working on a story raising questions about Bush's Guard service. Mapes told him there were some records "that might move the story forward. She didn't tell me what they said."
First, I am just about sick of hearing across Cable-land how peerless and professional Mary Mapes is. I guess again it depends on what the definition of 'is' is.
An objective observer cannot look at the above without firmly believing that Mapes was trying to help the Kerry campaign politically, not simply produce a news story. She did not call Lockhart to interview him or ask questions. She called him to give him (and therefore the Kerry campaign) a tip. Would she have called Karl Rove with the same tip had she been producing a story that put Kerry's service in doubt? Does anyone entertain the fantasy that she (or CBS or Dan Rather for that matter) would ever produce such a piece in the first place?
2. Lockhart claims to have had a 3 to 4 minute conversation with Burkett. What did they talk about, you ask?
"He had some advice on how to deal with the Vietnam issue and the Swift boat" allegations, Lockhart said Monday, referring to GOP-fueled accusations that Kerry exaggerated his Vietnam War record. "He said these guys play tough and we have to put the Vietnam experience into context and have Kerry talk about it more."
Lockhart said he thanked Burkett for his advice after a three to four minute call.
Lockhart said he does not recall talking to Burkett about Bush's Guard records. "It's baseless to say the Kerry campaign had anything to do with this," he said.
Let's add this all up... Mapes is working with Burkett on a story about Bush's National Guard service. Burkett has 'documents' to 'prove' the claims against President Bush. Mapes calls Lockhart and suggests he contact Burkett. Lockhart calls Burkett. And in 4 minutes of conversation with the man with the documents, all they talk about is the Swift Boat Veterans?
Where in Mapes' & Rather's 60 Minutes piece did the Swift Boat Veterans appear? Did Mapes tell Lockhart that Burkett has great ideas on battling the Swifties?
Mary Mapes told him there were some records "that might move the story forward. She didn't tell me what they said."
So, do you think a current Kerry advisor and former Clinton Press Secretary might possibly have the curiosity and insight as to actually ask the man with the documents what they contain?
You are left to believe that all they talked about was Swifties. Burkett is certain he is poised to stake his claim to fame with his 'documents', and all he is going to talk about is that Kerry needs to talk about the Swifties, offering Joe Lockhart nothing more than his best general rendition of James Carville?
Either Burkett had a sudden change of heart (nope, the story went ahead a week later) or Lockhart is lying about the content of the conversation.
Burkett sought the attention of the Democrat campaign leadership for months regarding his claim to Bush's Guard Service. He finally gets it and all he can muster is Swift Vet advice without mention of his Golden Egg?
Please spare the insult to my intelligence.
3. After nearly two weeks, CBS has finally, in its own skillfully crafted way, issued an admission:
CBS News apologized Monday for a "mistake in judgment" in its story questioning Bush's Guard service, claiming it was misled by the source of documents that several experts have dismissed as fakes.
Let there be no doubt, CBS was misled.
However, had Mapes, Rather and CBS not been so blinded by their craven desire to discredit Bush, they surely would not have been for long. They so badly lusted and wanted those documents to be true that it was surely nearly impossible to think either objectively or outside the 'gotcha' box.
CBS is not (yet) apologizing for their journalistic collusion with a presidential campaign. Yet. It is inevitable.
As guilty as Mapes is of, at the very least, extreme bias and as guilty as she seems to be of collusion with the Kerry campaign, she may be unfairly sacrificed at the altar by CBS. In an attempt to wash their hands of their self-inflicted and very real image crisis, CBS may hope that the public accepts this sacrifice and overlooks a problem that is institutionalized throughout their ranks.
This single, short AP report can be used in journalism classrooms as a classic example of media bias.