Monday, January 31, 2005

Rage at Black Rock

The dishy details are here, courtesy of the New York magazine website.

Baghdad Bob Returns?

This illustration of irrational cognitive dissonance by a member of the numerically-inferior Sunni group, needs no further editorial by Bummer:

In the heavily Sunni town of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, 48-year-old history teacher Qais Youssif said no member of his family had voted.

"The so-called elections were held in the way that America and the occupation forces wanted," Youssif said. "They want to marginalize the role of the Sunnis. They and the media talk about the Sunnis as a minority. I do not think they are a minority."

The Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading Sunni faction, feels the vote was not inclusive "because an important segment of the Sunni Muslim community didn't take part," said party official Naser Ayef al-Ani. Large, heavily Sunni sections of the country were unable to cast ballots, and in some places lack of security forced polling places to open late or not at all, officials said.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

L.A. Times' Headline: So Slanted, They Scrubbed It, 2 Hours After Delivery

It's only 8:45 a.m., and the LA Times has already scrubbed its front-page, convince-them-it's-all-bad Iraq election-bashing story from their website:

Iraqis Cast Ballots Amid Explosions and Anxiety

Suicide bombers and mortar rounds kill at least 17 people. Hours earlier, a rocket hit the U.S. Embassy, killing two Americans

BAGHDAD — As Iraqis began heading to the polls this morning in the nation’s first free election in decades, insurgents launched mortar rounds and sent suicide bombers to attack voting places across the country, killing at least 17 people.

Early turnout varied widely, with strong participation in Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq and the Shiite Muslim south. Steady streams of voters were seen in parts of Baghdad, but hundreds of polling places, mainly in Sunni cities north and west of the capital, did not open on time because of security concerns.

In western Baghdad, four suicide bombers — three wearing explosive vests and one in a car — struck polling places, killing a total of 14 people and wounding at least 23. Three people died and seven were injured when mortar fire hit a house near a polling centern in the capital’s Sadr City district....

Despite the Times' effort to get away with its 1984-esque re-writing of history, here is a pdf of the deep-sixed article, buried here.

But subscribers who received a print copy of the Sunday L.A. Times were already conditioned to assume that the Iraqi elections were flawed.

[nb: Even NPR, in its 6:00 a.m. Weekend Edition, was reporting a voter turnout of over 70%.]

Saturday, January 29, 2005

72 Hours Of Propaganda

When you wake up Sunday, the Iraqi voting will be completed.

Effete thugs with immunity -- the MSM -- will post headlines using these, and other, phrases:

"Spotty turnout"
"No mandate" etc.,. etc. The MSM headlines are already written; the facts won't matter.

Focus on Overall Turnout.

In US Presidential Elections, only about 50% of eligible voters actually vote. (About 2/3 of eligible US citizens register, and about 2/3 of registered citizens actually vote). In midterm congressional elections, only about 40% vote. (In Tennessee, 25% vote; in Arizona, 33%. Are Tennessee and Arizona Senators Bill Frist, Lamar Alexander, John McCain and Jon Kyl all "illegitimate?" Or somehow "without a mandate?")

What percentage of Iraqis will vote?* To the MSM, it simply doesn't matter. The MSM will ignore actual voter turnout, and will try to damn the entire election, and the Bush policies underlying the election, on account of likely lower turnout in some Sunni areas.

nb: In the 2000 Presidential election, with a 55% overall voter turnout country-wide, 70% of Minnesotans and Alaskans voted (a shocking 30% over-representation for these ballot-box-stuffing white northerners). Only 45% voted in Nevada and Arkansas (a shocking 20% undervote of these disenfranchised folks).

Was the 2000 US Presidential election illegitimate and spotty, on account of the wide disparity in voter turnout among regions of the country? As the MSM blasts the differential in voter turnout among Shi'a, Kurd and Sunni areas of Iraq, will any MSM dare compare such Iraqi differentials to like-kind data in the US?

Of course they won't.....but you knew that already.

* - Americans can get rides to the polls, and often milk and cookies from nice grandmas and grandpas at the polling station. In contrast, some would-be Iraqi voters will be shot by Sunni thugs, for their civic efforts.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Gotta shoot over to Park City for a few days, handle some BummerBusiness at the film festival. Check back this weekend. 3 quickie points about films:

1. Sideways really is all that. This morning it got Oscar nods for best pic, supporting actor, supporting actress, and director.

2. I previously raved about Collateral. Michael Mann should have been nominated; at least Jamie Foxx got an actor nod, plus one for film editing.

3. Flawed, fat and forgotten: Fahrenheit 911 is shut out. Zero nominations. Zero. None. Zip.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Lessons from the Life of Rose Mary Woods

Rose Mary Woods, loyal secretary to President Richard Nixon, has died.

A generation ago, she was at the center of a storm with as much fury as CBS's Memogate, which eventually caused Nixon to resign.

Nixon and his associates blamed Ms. Woods as the cause of a critical 18-minute gap in key White House tapes subpoenaed by the Senate during the Watergate scandal. Later forensic analysis of the tapes showed that the blame placed on Ms. Woods was not tenable, and that the "gap" was intentionally caused by as many as 9 overdubs.

The question of, "Who erased the tapes?" died down after Nixon resigned, albeit the question (along with the enigma of the identity of the Washington Post "Deep throat" source inside the White House) has provided ample fodder for many wrtiers over the years.

Whatever was said in those 18 minutes of taped conversations, the White House wanted them erased from history. With Woods' death, Nixon got his wish.

A generation later, irony oozes from Memogate's reversal of the scandal. In Watergate, an Administration committed burglary and then engaged in a cover-up far worse than the original crime, as part of a re-election campaign. The players were busted by a new breed of journalists.

In Memogate, journalists and/or their sources committed felony forgery in an attempt to impact a presidential re-election campaign, complete with a damning cover-up by their bosses that more-or-less brought down the news division of a network. The culprits were busted by a new breed of amateur journalists operating as a loose network of weblog writers and readers, acting in concert.

I think it is appropriate that Ms. Woods survived to see the Thornburgh Report's release.

I wish someone could have interviewed her in the past few months about her thoughts. "The Fog of Her Chores." I wonder what Eleven Lessons she might have offered?

Instead, an enigma until the end.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Random Notes on Kiddie Porn

BummerDietz and BummerBud spend Saturday at Photo LA 2005. Great event. 100 or so photo dealers in a big flea market setting. I highly recommend it.

There was the typical subgroup of vendors who catered to gay men - e.g., WWII photos of "G.I.'s bathing at Guadalacanal" or some such. In L.A., that genre is likely a critical economic segment of the art collecting market. To each his own; that's why it's "art."

I noticed, though, half a dozen booths which had collections of explicit photos of naked kids. I am not referring to the Life Magazine-type "hippy commune" pictures of the 60's or 70's, but instead, portraiture of naked kids (7 to 12 years old, I guess), full frontal, in erotic or quasi-erotic poses (plus others that were just naked kids, posed full frontal as if for an Easter picture, sans the typical Sunday best get-up). One set included life-sized naked portraits of Brooke Shields, pre-Pretty Baby. She was probably 8 or maybe 10 years old, posing bordello style, naked in a bathtub. I am sure that art critics can recite the gamut of political and social statements can be said to be represented by those photos.

Although mostly an adult affair, one mother of a 12-ish looking boy was heard by Dietz to say, "These are pictures for adults...let's go." Apropos of nothing, that coincided with my mention to BummerBud that I thought it was a little odd that a handful of dealers were "still" displaying naked kiddie pictures. (Again, I am referring to full frontal stuff in provocative or erotic poses.) BummerBud agreed, and we both said something wicked and inappropriate about some naked picture, but there it was. Two hetero guys (almost openly trolling for art chicks) at a large photo exhibit, and we both felt a bit quesy about the kiddie porn stuff. (We were a bit miffed when we admitted that, "the photographers were skilled and had achieved their objective of an erotic photo," but we weren't really down with our eroticism buttons getting punched by naked pictures of 9-year olds....)

Cut to this morning's New York Times Sunday Magazine. The cover is the body of a man lurking in the hallway outside a bedroom door, slightly ajar. The magazine cover:
"The Mind of a Cybermolester. He loaded his computer with softwar that allowed him to monitor his 12-year old stepdaughter's online conversations. Her romantic explorations confided to a friend, became his pornography. Then, in an instant message, he wrote that if she wanted to see what he wished to do with her...."
What happened in the past 72 hours that OK'ed the detailed erotic depiction of naked girls in large public art shows, and detailed descriptions in the Sunday paper of the carnal thoughts of a child molester? Are they supposed to fly under the radar, so long as they are disguised as "art" or "therapy journalism?"

What in the hell is going on?
I am leagues away from being a "prude" (you would likely consider BummerDietz to be an irresponsible whoring punk -- details not appropriate here). So if I am a bit put off by this kiddie-porn-zeitgeist, the trip wire "in the red states" will have been tripped, long ago. I am no prude, yet I really hate to think that Bill O'Reilly is correct on this type of "public morality" issue. So someone -- please -- tell me what I am missing?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

More on Tasty Brisket Boy a/k/a/ Michael Smith

BummerDietz has concluded that in asking the question, "Who forged the Killian memos,?" CBS Associate Producer* Michael Smith is a "person of interest."

Is the "Michael Smith" who sells war stories to the online rag London Telegraph ( the same "tasty brisket" boy named "Michael Smith" who worked with Mapes?

Is it just me, or do I note an anti-military slant to all of these recent Michael Smith (stringer to the Telegraph) stories?:

How Ali Baba failed to stop the thieves and landed three soldiers in court
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 22 Jan 2005

Officers feared abuse of Iraqi civilians by British soldiers 'was widespread'
Author Michael Smith
DATE: 20 Jan 2005

British troops 'abused Iraqi captives'
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent,
DATE: 19 Jan 2005

Pentagon planned love bomb
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 15 Jan 2005

Soldier who killed Sally was jailed for imprisoning a teenager
Author David Sapsted and Michael Smith
DATE: 11 Jan 2005

£1.9 bn portable radio system gets a poor reception from Army
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 04 Jan 2005

Bang, bang you're dead
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 31 Dec 2004

Scotland furious over loss of all six famous regiments
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 17 Dec 2004

I apologise but we must move on, says general
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 17 Dec 2004

Human rights QC to head review of Deepcut deaths
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 16 Dec 2004

Officers make new allegations against frigate captain
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 15 Dec 2004

TA faces big cuts to save a regiment
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 13 Dec 2004

Deepcut deaths horrify me, says Hain
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 09 Dec 2004

Political intervention in shake-up of Army leaves senior officers seething
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 06 Dec 2004

One of us could be next, said scared Deepcut recruit
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 02 Dec 2004

Gulf syndrome is beyond doubt, inquiry finds
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 18 Nov 2004

Black Watch CO voiced fears
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 06 Nov 2004

Three Black Watch killed
Author Toby Harnden, Michael Smith and George Jones
DATE: 05 Nov 2004

Black Watch senior officers question No 10 Iraq strategy
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 29 Oct 2004

Civil servant urged to resign over helicopter 'fiasco'
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
DATE: 26 Oct 2004

Ministers accused of misleading Parliament on Iraq
Author Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent and George Jones, Political Editor
DATE: 20 Oct 2004

It appears to me that this Michael Smith has an axe to grind with things military, and does so by writing several weekly negative "tasty brisket" stories about the military, and then selling the stories to willing publishers.

* - This CBS Associate Producer title basically is given out short-term to low level helpers, along with their paycheck. Michael Smith was identified by the Thornbugh Report as an independent stringer - i.e., publications pay him story-by-story. I assume that "defence correspondent" means the same thing for the online rag

Friday, January 21, 2005

Foil Hats for Moonbats

First reading of Scylla's motion that "Foil Hats" enter the lexicon as a synonym of the beloved "Moonbats"....

Foil-Hat (alt: Foil Hatter) (n)(v) (foil-haat)

1. A participant who associates himself with certain political or social brands or movements by donning a cone-shaped jester's cap constructed from a common domestic kitchen staple known as "aluminum foil" (p/k/a "tin foil").

2. A subgroup of radical or extreme leftist adhering to a political philosophy stressing a reliance on emotion and rejection of logic. ~"The foil hats objected to the balanced budget bill."

3. A political activist of any philosophy who accepts without factual support the assumption that any person who disagrees with any of the activist's political positions is necessarily part of a pervasive, nefarious yet hidden conspiracy hell-bent on destroying society. ~The brochure handed out by the foil hat stated that, "The faked moon landings were part of Haliburton's conspiracy to build up the military-industrial complex at taxpayer expense, so as to thwart the growing people's democracy movement."

4. A political consumer typically (but not always) of a lower socio-economic class, who forms a strong brand loyalty to a constantly-changing smorgasbord of political images and movements, seemingly assembled around a core belief that the current societal paradigm is designed primarily as a form of spectator sport called "3rd world infanticide." ~"The parade featured foil hats with placards denouncing the "baby formula conspiracy.' "

5. (verb) The act of protesting a perceived nefarious political, economic or social structure by assembling in a group and acting out court-jester-like skits and comic absurdities, regardless of any nexus to the subject structure: ~"We're going to foil-hat the Veteran's Day Parade next week."

syn: Jabobin (arch); Moonbat; Deaniac; Jonestowner; Sharptonite; Kool-Aid Drinker; et al.

slang (alt): Foiler; Foil Baller; X-Filer

Humble props to INDCJOURNAL and LGF, of course....

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Forged Killian Memos: 45 Second Briefing

TANG reports on Bush:

1971 OER on Bush, signed by Killian and Harris: "Bush is an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot."....[a dozen sentences of positive detail]... This endnote is added by Hodges: "Lieutenant Bush is an outstanding young pilot and officer and is a credit to this unit." Thus, three commanders signed this OER report.

1973 OER on Bush, signed by Killian and Harris: "Lt. Bush ..[has moved] to [187th Group at Dannelly ANG base in] Montgomery, Alabama...[since May 1972] has been performing equivalent training in a non-flying capacity."

On August 13, 2004, Bill Burkett posted an online article (long since removed) which stated:

"I have found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to either cover for the failures of 1LT Bush, or to provide him pay or certification for training not completed."
FORGER'S DILEMMA: The claim (perhaps true? who knows...) that Bush was a sad sack in Alabama 1972-1973 was not catching the public's attention. How, then, to change a unanimous record that "Bush is an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot" to "Bush was AWOL?"

FORGER'S SOLUTION: Create fake memos that state that the glowing reports were not true; they were written as political favors to strong Bush interests. Since such new memos can (and will) be disavowed by living witnesses (Hodges, Harris), make the forgeries come from the dead guy's (Killian) "personal files."

FORGER'S OBSTACLE: Burkett was an 'expert' on Bush TANG documents. Burkett's August 13th article states that there are no damning Killian documents. How does Burkett go from that state of mind on August 13th, to his infamous August 25th post that, "I know from your files that we have now reassembled"? And when did his August 13th document get scrubbed off of the internet?

FORGER'S IDENTITY: What small group of people were cognizant of all of these details, to enable them to create forgeries that would prima facie avoid immediate disavowel by Hodges, etc.?


WAS A CBS PRODUCER INVOLVED IN THE FORGERY? Reporters are often cagey - even dishonest - with interviewees who might otherwise ruin the story or the reporter's angle, if the interviewee were to be apprised of the angle of a segment. OK, that is a very strong possibility/probability as to CBS News' treatment of Major General Bobby Hodges. (CBS did not contact Hodges until 48 hours before the September 8th segment was broadcast, and the misrepresentation and misuse of Hodges as corroborating the story was faulted by the Thornburgh Report.)

But read this fairly obscure account - without the CBS News spin or the Thornburgh filter - of what Hodges said and did not say to CBS. In light of the information revealed in the Report, might the conduct of CBS News producer(s) regarding Hodges evince the mindset of someone at CBS who already knew the memos were forgeries?

Monday, January 17, 2005

A Lynch Pin to CBS News Bias

No political bias at CBS News? An entire news staff of left wing activists, yet, no bias?

From the Thornburgh Report:

...Dotty Lynch, CBS News’ Senior Political Editor....recalled having discussions with Mapes over Labor Day weekend, about the September 8 Segment.
Who is Dotty Lynch? She is CBS News' "Senior Political Editor" and a self-described "very ardent feminist" and longtime partisan liberal political operative (her mullet and turtleneck fooled me...). Before joining CBS, Lynch directed polling for George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and the DNC.

What is Lynch's potential political bias when she was inducted onto the Memogate team a couple of days before the broadcast?

Lynch participated in a December 2004 CSPAN panel. She agreed that the Swift Boat attacks had no basis in fact. To the suggestion that the MSM should have actually investigated what the "facts" were, before pronouncing them to be false, Lynch stated that since the public can only focus on a few sentences of a story, the MSM was justified in not investigating this "complex" Kerry story, because it would only confuse the public. That is, no investigation other than to solicit a denial from the Kerry campaign....

[Update: Sherlock Holmes moment: Kerry campaign aide and Thornburgh Report villian Chad Clanton (friend of Mapes' husband, he put CBS and Burkett in touch with Joe Lockhart), sat on the same CSPAN panel with Lynch... .]

In Lynch's her own words: "From 1972 until 1985 I worked in politics as a pollster for Democratic candidates and liberal causes. Most of the candidates, most notably Presidential contenders George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart, were simpatico with my liberal values and I felt somewhat fulfilled in working through them to build a better society. I had become a very ardent feminist...."

Lynch once described her being "stunned" when she saw the final poll indicating Anita Hill's rating among women was 19 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable. How could these stupid people not believe Anita?

Memogate - What Now?

It seems to me that Memogate will now fade, unless new facts are developed. Those facts exist in two repositories: (1) The files of CBS and the Thornburgh Report law firm - withheld under attorney-client privilege; and (2) with the forger(s).

There are three ways for the outside world to pierce into these 2 fact repositories, as set forth below. The goal is to access additional raw information, to establish for the record that which the Thornburgh Report was not allowed to do, so that the abuses of the MSM exposed in Memogate will result in lasting systemic reform.

Top discovery "wish list":

1. Thornbugh interview transcripts of CBS Texas-based producers Mapes, Michael Smith, Roger Charles, Lucy Scott.

2. All emails among Mapes and her producing team, particularly Michael Smith.

3. Subpoena the testimony of Mapes.

4. Subpoena the testimony of Mapes' husband, journalist Mark Wrolstad.

5. Subpoena the testimony of Michael Smith.

6. Subpoena the testimony of Burkett.

7. Subpoena the testimony of Glenn Reynolds, Paul Lukasiak, Linda Starr and Ben Conover.

8. Subpoena the records and testimony of CBS News "Senior Political Editor" Dotty Lynch.

Criminal Proceeding: This blog and others have outlined the Texas crimes committed in Memogate. Criminal investigations commence when a state attorney decides to start a prosecution. In most instances, that is due to a referral from a cop of some sort. Texas has several "cops" who can begin an investigation, as well as several attorney groups who can bring charges. The Texas list:

1. Texas Attorney General

2. Taylor County (Abilene) District Attorney, James Eidson.

James Eidson, Esq.
District Attorney, Taylor County
300 Oak Street
Abilene, TX 79602
Phone: (325) 674-1261
Fax: (325) 674-1306

3. Texas Department of Public Safety (the "Texas Rangers"):

Texas Dept. of Public Safety
2405 S. Loop 250 West
Midland, TX 79703
Phone: 915-498-2120

INDCJournal did some good posting on the Texas enforcement angle (with a little help from yours truly, aka Winemaker). Read it here and here .

There is also a federal list, and as I have stated early and often, the federal anti-payola statutes are fertile ground here, because any investigation would micro-focus on the nefarious doings of Mapes, Michael Smith and the other anti-Bush Texans who are at the heart of the forgery ring.

Civil Proceeding: Citizens can avail themselves of "discovery" rights (i.e., the court will use its subpoena power to allow witnesses and records to be accessed by the plaintiff). There are several Texas laws which confer a "private right of action" upon a citizen. The citizen can sue directly, without the involvement of any governmental attorney, and has discovery rigthts, and a right to an attorney's fee award. (And, Texas isn't the only relevant jurisdiction here - other states may have a requisite "nexus," and thus jurisdiction, over the Memogate chain of events).

Regulatory Proceeding: One such possible regulatory proceeding, involving CBS and the FEC, has been commenced. This is a good development. Similar actions may be brought in front of the FCC when CBS renews its broadcast licenses.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Sniff....Sniff....Funny Smelling Bratwurst....

Jed and Owen, who have the bad sense to attempt to out-trailerpark Prince Harry by posting pictures of themselves in insanely gay Goebbels get-ups, nonetheless lay down the math about vote fraud in Milwaukee, all corps-of-engineers style, and BummerDietz is a sucker for mathmatical arguments:

In Milwaukee, about 75,000 people went through the process of registering at the polls in the November election. Got that? 75,000 people in a city of 600,000 were not registered to vote on the day of the election, so they registered at the the polls....

Of those 75,000 registrations, a full 13% of them, or about 10,000 registrations, are illegible. Presumably the identity of the registrant was checked on election day, but since the registration can’t be read, there is no way to verify the registration. Off of the bat, we have 10,000 votes that were cast in Milwaukee for voters whose existence can’t be verified.

Of the remaining 65,000 registrations for which confirmation cards have finally been sent, the Elections Commission says to expect that... 22,000 will be returned undeliverable. This means that the address was incorrectly written or outright fictitious....

Of the remaining 43,000 registrants... we could conservatively estimate that 10% of the remaining registrants - at the minimum - will be invalid. That’s an additional 4,300 people.

All told, it looks like there were a minimum of 36,000 votes cast in the City of Milwaukee for which no voter can be produced.

The election in Wisconsin was decided by 11,384 votes.

In the City of Milwaukee, there were 198, 907 votes cast for Kerry/Edwards and 75,746 votes cast for Bush/Cheney....

[Editor: That's an 8-3 margin of victory for Kerry - 72% to 28%.]

Is that weird downtown spy bar with the secret entrance still in business in Milwaukee? Did it have trains or something near the ceiling? I think MDMA was legal then. I had to climb over Senator Kasten in black tie so I could go take a 62 second pee - a record which still stands, albeit a long time ago - because I drank so much at that damn place, before some black tie mind.....

L.A. Times Front-Pages the "No Political Bias" Spin

I’m not the first to note that the Thornburgh Report “had some obfuscating to attend to.” (Well, actually, I was first. )*

A valid criticism of the Thornburgh Report is that it - almost by design - gives unwarranted support to leftwing MSM and idiotarians who need to press the fiction that the only Memogate problem was “the competitive rush of it all, ” and that the Report “proved there was no bias.” (And since we just can't decide for sure if the memos are fake, it's an understandable error. Further, since the underlying facts are probably correct, what's the big deal, right?)

Predictably, the Los Angeles Times jumps on board this spin train. Today’s Sunday edition carries the front-page story, “How CBS’ Big Story Fell Apart.” You need not bother reading past the lead paragraphs to get its flavor:

"Dan Rather was on the run, chasing big stories…. from New York to Florida to Texas and back to CBS headquarters in Manhattan…

"Exhausted and stretched to the limit, the veteran anchorman didn't find time that week to learn much about a news source named Lt. Col. Bill Burkett….

"Rather…heard...that Burkett was a "straight-talking West Texan" with a reputation as a "truth teller" … Rather relied on the research... [they] both put their trust in Burkett. That fateful convergence helped produce a terribly flawed report….
Extra ! For those luck enough to receive the print edition, the L.A. Times added these 2 captions to accompanying pictures:

Whopper Caption 1: “Emails show that CBS’ Mary Mapes and her colleagues had fretted over the progress others were making on stories about Bush’s military service.” [ No mention of the email between Mapes and another CBS producer that discusses arranging a bribe for Burkett, in order that CBS might launch this story “that could possibly change the momentum of the election.” ]

Whopper Caption 2: “A busy Dan Rather had come to rely on Mary Mapes’ ability to get the big stories right. She and others did the heavy lifting when it came to researching the report.”

Yes, we get the point: On the run... chasing... exhausted... fretting... stretched to the limit... busy... so many big stories for the star team... chasing... no time... so busy.... NY/London/Paris/Munich... exhausted... so much to do... must-have-water... so busy... Rosebud......

The Report’s tiptoeing on the eggshell-skull of its client is directly responsible for this MSM spin.

My first gut reaction to the report was correct. I'm proud that I posted 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 four times the morning it was released, criticizing it.

* - Far more eloquent treatment is at LGF, INDC, Powerline and elsewhere.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Black Rock: Fake Diamond?

I posit that an ordinary newsman, in Andrew Heyward's seat, would have run the following basepath in response to Mapes' and Rather's submission of their "report":

First Base: Vet the story well, pre-broadcast, given the implications.
Second Base: Strong evidence emerges post-broadcast that the memos are fake? Ask- no, demand - which anti-Bush (or pro-Kerry) group perpetrated this fraud on CBS, the country and the Bush campaign?
Third Base: Then, explore (internally and/or externally) CBS News' role in assessing how this fraud was allowed to happen.
Home Base: Consider and take action as to whatever truth(s) the above reveal.

THAT is a non-biased course of logic and professionalism. Who knows, home base may even prove to be a "dirty trick" by Karl Rove. Highly unlikely, but anything is possible.

But the Report reveals a different progression of logic. A key Heyward email shows that he wasn't running the logic or professionalism basepath. Instead, he was running things like a war room of a political campaign; he went straight for his own home plate.

The Report concludes that Heyward got to First Base. as it dutifully notes that the day before the broadcast, Heyward "cautioned West and Howard... not to be 'stampede[d]' and that 'we’re going to have to defend every syllable of this one . . .' " OK, so far.*

But when strong (overwhelming?) evidence that the memos were fake rolled in, Heyward recorded his response in an email.

He did not touch Second Base.

He did not touch Third Base.

He went straight for a partisan Home Plate. No focus on tranparency; no focus on the patently obvious anti-Bush dirty trick involved; no concern about CBS's potential relationship to this anti-Bush treachery. Instead, Heyward's political brain software takes him to - Karl Rove dirty trick!

From the Report (pp 160-161):

"[A]t 7:49 a.m. on Friday, September 10, Heyward sent an e-mail to West:

'Don’t we have to come up with OR SHARE more evidence rather than just “stand by” our statement?.. This is a direct attack on our credibility...The critical analysts have no problem going public. .....[the memos] seem plausible.... but is it possible that it’s a clever dirty trick by Rather-haters – a SETUP aimed at CBS?...' "

* - A good alternative interpretation is that this was not "fact vetting" by Heyward - he had no intention of stopping the story, but rather was interested only in establishing a plausible semblance of fairness, in case it blew up on him. The Thornburgh Report curiously adopts this view in arguing that "pre-broadcast editing" rebuts the claim of bias. Whatever.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Encyclopedia Brown Figures It Out

Scylla&Charybdis readers know that your humble BummerDietz has long stated that the "personal files" tagline in the CBS Report was the DNA evidence of the crime scene.

Find out where that came from, and you have found the forger.

[Update: The Thornbugh Report states that CBS producer Michael Smith pointed Mary Mapes to the source of the fake Killian memos. Smith had previously worked with Mapes since 2000 (and possibly Mapes’ reporter husband?). My “forensic legal” opinion is that the “personal files” tagline was either invented by an attorney, or someone very cognizant of the existing Bush TANG files. Logically, a Texas political operative would be instrumental in exploiting the TANG story for political gain. And….what if you find a link among all three? Certainly they'd be "persons of interest" to an investigator... .]

[UPDATE: Glenn Smith of Texans-for-Truth and DriveDemocracy is a suspended Texas attorney. Is he related to or connected with CBS Memogate producer (and procurer of the Killian memos) Michael Smith? Are they connected to Paul Lukasiak, whose anti-Bush website accidentally invented the "OETR" acronym used in the forgeries? How (Google searches show that a Michael Smith and Paul Lukasiak lived, live or schooled in Pennsylvania....). It would seem to be a perfect storm - CBS producer, librarian of anti-Bush TANG memos, and an anti-Bush political operator... ]

Attorney/Forger Theory. BummerDietz has long surmised that an attorney was the forger, reasoning that the inclusion of the "personal files" claim was a lawyer's attempt to avoid a strict liability felony under Texas law for forgeries purported to be government records. Clumsy attempt, but to a lawyer an important one.

Web Librarian of TANG Memos Theory. The equally strong explanation for the "personal files" fiction does not involve an attorney trying to avoid Texas Penal Code 32.21, but rather someone who knew that Burkett had, on August 13, 2004, written that he had "found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to either cover for the failures of 1LT Bush, or to provide him pay or certification for training not completed... ." (The August 13th Burkett article has now been taken down from the web; it is partially archived here, here, here, and here. Query..who removed the August 13th Burkett article from the website, and why?....see below.)

In order to avoid a contradiction of such August 13th "finding" by Burkett, the forger of the Killian memos would have to avoid such August 13th data. Accordingly, the forger would be someone with an understanding of those specific matters referred to by Burkett in his August 13th article, and the invention of the "personal files" fiction would be an explanation to avoid directly contradicting the August 13th article. If Burkett was the forger, he was being too cute by half, to avoid contradicting his obscure August 13th report. Burkett is a prime suspect, then, due to the "personal files" tag. On August 25, 2004, Burkett again wrote that "we have now reassembled your [TexANG] files...." This creates an 11-day window, August 13th-24th, as the critical forgery period. (Someone else has pointed this out, first and better here, although I just stumbled across that.)

But equally suspect as the forger(s) would be that person(s) who, for example, runs a detailed, anti-Bush TANG document library website like this one: Such librarian would have the requisite knowledge to know about the August 13th Burkett report, during the critical 11-day window. Such forger(s), in providing the Killian fakes to Burkett, would have reasoned that the "personal files" tag was necessary to avoid an obvious contradiction of Burkett's week-old "conclusion" about the contents of the official Killian reocrds. Under this theory, Burkett is a patsy and/or a co-forger, and another person is involved. In any event, under this web librarian theory it would be helpful if the August 13th Burkett article would disappear. (It did disappear.)

Attorney and Web Librarian Combination. Now, if only we could find an attorney or paralegal who is deeply involved with Bush-AWOL groups (such as "Texans for Truth") and/or a partisan TANG document web librarian who ran such a website, we might have reduced the forger suspect list to a manageable size..... They would be "persons of interest," for sure.

So, to the forger(s), whoever you are, make sure you have your bail bondsman's number close by. Because forgery is a strict liability felony under Texas law. And lots of other crimes are involved. (And by all means, please panic and commence a clumsy cover-up; such efforts always make matters worse. Ask Martha.)

So when Burkett wrote on August 25, 2004 that "we have now reassembled" Bush's TANG files, who was "we?" Encyclopedia Brown thinks that's been narrowed to a pretty small group.....

[Update: Don't forget those CBS "Associate Producer" Michael Smith and uncredited reporter Mark Wrolstad; it's all here. ]

[Update: Sharp reader JFH notes that the forgeries have a necessary link with Paul Lukasiak's website. This is because the acronym "OETR" does not exist in the military records of the day. Two acronyms were historically used: an "OER" (Officer Effectiveness Report) and an "OTR" (Officer Training Report). The reader read Lukasiak's website and found that Lukasiak had mistakenly used the description "Officer Training Effectiveness Training Report" to describe this page, but the report is actually called a "Company Grade Officer Effectiveness Report." (There is no "Training" in the title.) Lukasiak gets it correct on another page, here, correctly labelling it as an "OER." Footnote 12 on this page also refers to "Bush’s 1970-1971 Officer Effectiveness Training Report," (a non-existent title).

[Thus, the forger's use of "OETR" in at least one fake Killian memo is highly likely the result of the forger reviewing Lukasiak's webpage and using the abbreviation "OETR" based upon Lukasiak's incorrectly captionned document. It is also possible that Lukasiak himself carried over his error into a forged document; however, any proof of that speculation cannot be established from his website.

[But then at this page, Lukasiak uses the acronym "OETR, " with a hyperlink to a page called "The OETR Scam." When you hit that link, it connects to a placeholder page which has the conflicting url of: "". In other words, the button uses "OETR," but the page identifier uses "OER."

[So the incorrect use of "OETR" enters the cyberworld via such page. ]

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Mapes' Husband: Go-To Man for the Kerry Campaign

What was Mary Mapes' husband, Mark Wrolstad, doing during August 2004? Writing articles about the nefarious connections between the Bush campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And who pops up in his August 2004 article: Why, Chad Clanton - the go-between between CBS and the DNC.....

Swift boat vet says he's not a smoking gun
Group is independent, argues Dallas man dropped from Bush committee
10:57 AM MST on Wednesday, August 25, 2004
By MARK WROLSTAD / The Dallas Morning News
A Dallas veteran dropped from a presidential re-election committee for appearing in a new TV ad attacking John Kerry's military record said he's no smoking gun to prove Bush campaign improprieties.
Ken Cordier, a retired Air Force colonel and former Vietnam prisoner of war, once hoped to be named the Bush administration's ambassador to that country.
Now he finds himself near the center of a storm over whether a scathing campaign against the Democratic presidential nominee by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been illegally coordinated by Republicans close to the president.
"The attack dogs for the Kerry campaign are out there claiming I'm the puppet of the Bush campaign," Mr. Cordier said Tuesday from his Oak Cliff home, where he has been flooded by phone calls and e-mails. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
Mr. Cordier's occasional speeches about his POW experience included one in June for the Veterans for Bush steering committee.
He said he was contacted late that month by organizers of the swift boat group through longtime friend and former POW Paul Galanti, who also appears in the group's second ad.
That crossover, which Mr. Cordier said was inadvertent and quickly corrected when he stepped down as a volunteer on the steering committee, has been questioned because third-party groups, which have no limits on fund raising, must be separate from the candidates' campaigns.
"This group has been totally independent," he said, referring to the veterans group, whose initial accusations were that Mr. Kerry lied about his actions as a swift boat commander in Vietnam to win war decorations.
Many of the allegations have been undercut by military records and veterans who served directly with the young Mr. Kerry.
Statements criticized
Since the group's first TV commercial, those criticisms have refocused on his anti-war activism after he returned to the United States. His statements to a Senate committee 33 years ago that some American soldiers committed atrocities form the storyline for the second and latest ad, which first aired over the weekend with three veterans accusing Mr. Kerry of betraying his country.
But questions about the group's independence, its financing and the accuracy of its accusations have fueled a firestorm of charges and countercharges as more has become known about the group's connections to prominent members of the GOP.
The primary financial backing – $200,000 – has come from Houston businessman and Bush backer Bob Perry, a longtime associate of Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser.
Mr. Kerry has accused President Bush, who did not go to Vietnam and has faced questions about his missing National Guard records, of using the veterans as a front group "to do his dirty work."
Without condemning the swift boat campaign, the president has said that all political ads by independent groups should stop.

'Direct ties' alleged

On Tuesday, Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton called the episode involving Mr. Cordier "another brick in the wall of evidence that this group has direct ties to the Bush campaign.

"The longer the president waits to specifically condemn this smear, the more it becomes clear what's going on here," Mr. Clanton said. "He's trying to gain from a political smear."

Mr. Cordier (pronounced core-dee-AY) uses a different word: "truth."
He said that he can't speak to Mr. Kerry's combat performance but that his later anti-war statements "gave aid and comfort to the enemy." His run for president has revived some of the bitterness from the divisive war.
"It's more out of outrage that we're doing this," Mr. Cordier said. "The American people should know about this and make their own decision."
Mr. Cordier, 67, who has lived in Dallas with his second wife since 1993, went from fighter pilot to POW when his F-4 Phantom was shot down in December 1966.
He endured torture and deplorable living conditions at several prison camps until his release in March of 1973 – after 2,283 days, as he readily recounts. He took only four months to return to active duty and served 12 more years in the Air Force.
Those days in captivity hardened the conservatism he took to war but also gave him a new appreciation for life, he said.
He keeps his humor dry; in a bathroom at his home stands a mannequin dressed in his old POW pajamas and rubber tire sandals.
Mr. Cordier has made several trips back to Vietnam and in 2001 briefly lobbied to become ambassador to Vietnam.
In January, he signed on with Veterans for Bush – essentially a list of supporters, he said, and he has been a small Bush donor. Representing the campaign, he made a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Colorado in June, he said.
He was soon contacted, he said, by the swift boats group, including John O'Neill, a prominent Houston attorney and Republican and an opponent of Mr. Kerry's Vietnam views since 1971. Mr. Cordier said he also met Merrie Spaeth, a Dallas public relations consultant and Bush supporter who helped produce the TV ads.
The home page features a frame from the latest ad: Mr. Cordier speaking in front of a black-and-white photo of Mr. Kerry testifying to the Senate in 1971. The ad quickly intercuts Mr. Kerry's description of destruction and mutilations with the veterans' voices. Their central point is that POWs were tortured to admit war crimes while the young Mr. Kerry acknowledged such acts.
"He betrayed us in the past," Mr. Cordier says in the ad. "How could we be loyal to him now?"
Last Friday, Mr. Cordier said he notified Veterans for Bush of his TV work and the group said it would have to take him off its list.
Phone calls to that group weren't returned Tuesday.
Mr. Cordier said he acted in good faith.
"Maybe I should have let them know sooner, but it didn't seem relevant to me because I wasn't doing anything wrong," he said.

Texas Smoke and ……

Re: Thornburgh Report

I smell smoke. Where there is smoke……

The Report has some glaring omissions, regarding the Texas folk. There are 3, maybe 4, Texans on the CBS News payroll running around Texas, doing the story. They do not operate in a vacuum. Why doesn’t the Report give even cursory attention to these critical players?

Some of the smoke signals:

Michael Smith’s Smoking Gun Email(s):

1. Bribe Offer to Burkett. Lots of commentators are addressing the “no political bias” finding of the Report. As detailed elsewhere, only by ignoring the context of the election and Swift Boat vets, and by claiming that political bias is outside its scope of review (despite then concluding “no bias”), can the Report do so with a straight face. But there are a couple of details included in the Report, that have avoided scrutiny so far. The first is the “smoking gun” email from associate producer Michael Smith to Mapes. It details his efforts to find some bribe money for Burkett, for a “book deal.” OK, payoffs disguised as book advances are a common problem the past few years. But, this is bribery; call it what it is.

2. Stated Intent to Affect Election. But the Smith email to Mapes is worse. In trying to procure bribe money for Burkett, Smith reveals to us his exact state of mind: “What if there was a person who might have some information that could possibly change the momentum of an election….?” This CBS News Associate Producer’s intentions are clear: He wants the documents to “change the momentum of the election.”

3. Missing and Redacted Emails. Here’s the rub: This seems to be a critical email. And if Michael Smith is so careless as to document his state of mind in this email as to committing felony bribery, payola, election-law violations, etc., what might be found in his other emails? And, why does the Report only include small “redacted” pieces of this email? What else does that email say? Might I suggest, the unredacted version (and other emails) contain….Fire.

4. No Focus on Smith the Cohort. Smith sent other emails, not reproduced in the Report, but which “speculated..about how Lieutenant Colonel Burkett obtained the ‘holy grail’ and that “Burkett was protecting the true source.” More smoke. Any prosecutor can smell that Michael Smith is way too close; a prosecutor like Thornburgh would, as a matter of course, consider that Smith had become part of the forgery team.

5. Avoidance of the Obvious Fall Guy. Why would the Report NOT point all of this out? Blaming Memogate on a “rogue stringer” hired by Mapes would be in the best interests of CBS….unless Michael Smith is the key to a much worse situation for CBS.

6. Sleeping Dog? Report Lets Lie. Worst case for CBS, is Michael Smith the direct connection with the DNC, the Kerry campaign, and/or the Democratic group (s) called “Veterans for Truth” and/or “Texans for Truth?”

7. Conclusive, Irrebutable Evidence Ignored. Why would the Report exclude this critical data? It bears directly on “political bias” and “connections with political campaigns.”

"Personal Files" – The DNA Marker of the Forger

8. No Focus on the DNA Evidence. I’ve previously detailed the legal importance of the “personal files” fiction. The memos were invented – any fiction could have been chosen. The “personal files” tag was thus invented as: (a) an excuse for why the Killian forgeries were not in official files; (b) to excuse slight differences between exemplars and the forgeries, or my pet theory, (c) an invention of someone who accessed, read and understood Texas law (gosh, an attorney?) who wanted to sidestep the Texas forgery law regarding government documents.

I discount option (a), because the big journalism story had (for years) been that Bush files were “scrubbed.” This means, “official files were destroyed or hidden.” If you are forging documents to support the big story, why would you choose to NOT forge the official files? You lose the thrust of the allegation, it seems.

I also discount (b), because the forger could format the fakes any way s/he wanted – so why not do it correctly and convincingly? [If originals were produced, (b) might carry weight (lack of official stationery, etc.,); but with mere copies? No. ]

If that is correct, then the forger - or co-forger - is an attorney. Find him/her, and you find the genesis of the scandal. The Report is silent on this....and Thornburgh is an ex-prosecutor.

[Update: An argument is advanced here that Burkett had written an August 13, 2004 report for Paul Lukasiak. Burkett wrote that, "I have found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to either cover for the failures of 1LT Bush, or to provide him pay or certification for training not completed. On the contrary, LTC Killians' remarks are rare, indeed...."

[On August 25, 2004, Burkett again wrote that "we have now reassembled your [TexANG] files...." This creates an 11-day window, August 13th-24th, as the critical period. Burkett either forges the documents during this window, or the forged documents are provided to him. Burkett, aware of his recorded statements of August 13th that there were no Killian documents, might thus be related to the genesis of the "personal files" claim, as an attempt to avoid contradicting his statement of August 13th. Either that, or the forger who provides the forgeries to Burkett is aware of Burkett's August 13th report, and thus creates the forgeries so as to not contradict Burkett's August 13th opinion. This, if true (again, subscribing rationality to Burkett is a questionable process), would be a stong argument as a contrary explanation to my "must be a lawyer involved" thesis.

[Cf. this purported Lukasiak webite with mounds of "Bush was AWOL" pseudo-data. (nb: "" is registered at Whois as an amusing acronym...) Restating the obvious, there exists a hard-core group of anti-Bush librarians, centered around such website. The forgerers cannot be far from this reactor core....]

10. No Inquiry into Chain of Custody. Per the Report, who first claimed these forgeries were from “personal files?” Per the Report, “Mapes told the Panel that she was told this by Lieutenant Colonel Burkett…” But Mapes is a liar – we know that – so can her representation be trusted? (Many of her other claims to the Panel are discounted in the Report as lies.) So...we really don't know for sure where the claim first arose; Burkett is obviously a leading candidate.

11. One Hub of a Husband. Mapes' husband, Mark Wrolstad, is a Texas reporter. He is mentioned in the Report as introducing Smith to Mapes, and also giving Mapes contact with the Kerry campaign. In the 1980's, Wrolstad (as the reporter) and Mapes were the KIRO team who created a discredited Seattle broadcast that used a fake witness to falsely accuse cops of wrongdoing, even murder, in a drug den bust.

Mapes' husband is clearly an active hub of this wheel – why no further mention in the Report? What did he and Mapes discuss every night over dinner? Might I suggest that any connections among Wrolstad, Lukasiak, Michael Smith, Glenn Smith and his "Texans for Truth" and/or "Veterans for Truth," (any connection between these Smiths? College rugby buddies?)* and/or Chad Clanton, are being avoided by the Report, as they directly and irrebutably establish the very things that CBS doesn't want established? C'mon, Thornburgh, you aren't this sloppy... .

Mapes Gets Wind of Burkett – By Whom?

12. Cloud the Critical Tip-Off. In August, Mapes “learned” that Burkett had “documents.” The Report doesn’t state how that happened. The Report uses confusing language to say that “Paul Lukasiak told Mapes” that a Linda Starr had seen the documents. This seems intentionally cloudy. Specifically, did Mapes learn solely via Lukasiak? Who contacted whom? As a prosecutor, Thornburgh knows that this is the critical contact. Why does the Report obfuscate it? Why the smoke?

[Update: See my update under Item 8, above.]

The Other “Associate Producers” on the Story:

13. Lucy. Who is Associate Producer Lucy Scott? She is a Texan, hand-picked by Mapes.

14. Roger. Who is Associate Producer Roger Charles? He was hand-picked by Mapes.

15. Wrolstad. Was Mapes' husband also working with the CBS team? Or, some other team?

We aren't getting the whole story. This seems intended - Thornburgh et al are too skilled to miss this stuff....

* Here's a Glenn Smith, aka "Fluffy." Here's another, an attorney, aka "g.q." (in the same club with a Michael Smith, aka "pee wee".

American MSM Party Disbands

Howard Fineman’s fine analysis:

The 'Media Party' is over - CBS' downfall is just the tip of the iceberg

WASHINGTON - A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don't mean the Democrats. I'm talking about the "mainstream media"… At the height of its power, the AMMP (the American Mainstream Media Party) helped validate the civil rights movement, end a war and oust a power-mad president. But all that is ancient history. Now the AMMP is reeling, and not just from the humiliation of CBS News….

The AMMP, meanwhile, is regarded with ever growing suspicion by American voters, viewers and readers, who increasingly turn for information and analysis only to non-AMMP outlets that tend to reinforce the sectarian views of discrete slices of the electorate.

..The crusades of Vietnam and Watergate seemed like a good idea at the time, even a noble one, not only to the press but perhaps to a majority of Americans. The problem was that, once the AMMP declared its existence by taking sides, there was no going back. A party was born. It was not accident that the birth coincided with an identity crisis in the Democratic Party…

…Bush doesn't hate the AMMP (indeed, he likes his share of reporters on a personal basis). He just refuses to care about what it's up to....

In this situation, the last thing the AMMP needed was to aim wildly at the president — and not only miss, but be seen as having a political motivation in attacking in the first place. …

The moment [the 60 Minutes piece] made air it began to fall apart, and eventually was shredded by factions within the AMMP itself, conservative national outlets and by the new opposition party that is emerging: The Blogger Nation….

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Pay No Attention To Those Political Motivations Behind the Curtain

Compare the Report sections, below.
" The Panel is aware that some have ascribed political motivations to 60 Minutes Wednesday’s decision to air the September 8 Segment just two months before the presidential election, while others further found political bias in the program itself.... the Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing the Segment or its content." [p.28]

"[CBS Associate Producer Michael] Smith e-mailed a detailed proposal to Mapes on Tuesday, August 31, regarding [inducements for] Lieutenant Colonel Burkett:

" 'Today I am going to send the following hypothetical scenario to a reliable, trustable editor friend of mine . . . What if there was a person who might have some information that could possibly change the momentum of an election but we needed to get an ASAP book deal to help get us the information? What kinds of turnaround payment schedules are possible...?'

"Mapes responded in an e-mail to Smith’s proposal, stating 'that looks good, hypothetically speaking of course.' " [pp 61-62]

Maybe this will help S&C readers focus:

Report Conclusion: "The Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing the Segment or its content"

Emails between 2 CBS Producers: " ...could possibly change the momentum of an election but we needed to get an ASAP book deal.... What kinds of...payment schedules are possible...?'

Yes, the foregoing violates the federal anti-Payola statutes. See 47 USC 508.

A Time To Shill

Imagine* an alternative Memogate: A 60 Minutes reporter submits a story in August 2004 about the strong likelihood that "Citizen Soldier" John Kerry received a less-than-honorable discharge from the Naval Reserve. The story is based in part upon purported copies of military files that Kerry refused to release (or, some other such documents).

Now, visualize the process that CBS News would go through in addressing the story and vetting those documents.

Now, compare that scenario with the facts of Rathergate.

That's the political bias. You know it when you see it.**

* - Yes, you're correct, this was the technique from the closing argument in "A Time To Kill."

** - Correct again; the jurisprudence of Justice Potter Stewart.

Cf., the Report's lame attempt to invent 3 factors supporting a conclusion of "no political bias." They don't pass the straight-face test. And why bother to invent such lame factors, if the following quote from the Report is true?: "The Panel recognizes that some will see this widespread media attention not as evidence that 60 Minutes Wednesday was not motivated by bias but instead proof that all of mainstream media has a liberal bias. That is a perception beyond the Panel's assignment."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Maybe Dick Thought We'd Stop Reading at Page 100...

Here's the whitewash, end of the Report. Too bad the printed page cannot connote the sincere tone of voice. Note that under the list of 3 factors supporting a conclusion of "no political bias," all 3 of those factors are big stretches. In short, there are no such bona fide factors.

SEPTEMBER 8 SEGMENT (p. 211 et seq)

There has been widespread speculation in the media that the September 8 Segment was motivated, in whole or in part, by an anti-Bush political agenda. Thus, after the Segment was aired, the following types of comments appeared in print media:

Rather has long been criticized by some conservatives as being emblematic of the liberal news media.

Rather’s involvement in the politically charged story has led some Bush allies to challenge the network’s general credibility. ...

The question of whether a political agenda played any role in the airing of the Segment is one of the most subjective, and most difficult, that the Panel has sought to answer. The political agenda question was posed by the Panel directly to Dan Rather and his producer, Mary Mapes, who appear to have drawn the greatest attention in terms of possible political agendas. Both strongly denied that they brought any political bias to the Segment. The Panel recognizes that those who saw
bias at work in the Segment are likely to sweep such denials aside. However, the Panel will not level allegations for which it cannot offer adequate proof.

The Panel does not find a basis to accuse those who investigated, produced, vetted or aired the Segment of having a political bias. [????] The Panel does note, however, that on such a politically charged story, coming in the midst of a presidential campaign in which military service records had become an issue, there was a need for meticulous care to avoid any suggestion of an agenda at work. The Panel does not believe that the appropriate level of care to avoid the appearance of political motivation was used in connection with this story.

...The Panel recognizes that some will see this widespread media attention not as evidence that 60 Minutes Wednesday was not motivated by bias but instead proof that all of mainstream media has a liberal bias. That is a perception beyond the Panel's assignment.

A. Information that Might Suggest a Political

1. Rather and Mapes’ Long Pursuit of the TexANG Story....
2. The Anti-Bush Sources....
3. Proposed Use of Colonel Hackworth....
4. Kerry Campaign Connections....

[Editor's adds: Obvious Fakery; Timing of Disclosure; Part of a Swift Boat Vet campaign; No similar inquiry into Kerry's questionable discharge and refusal to release records.....]

B. Factors that Support a Conclusion that a Political Agenda Did Not Motivate the September 8 Segment

1. The Previous Work of Rather and Mapes [????]
2. The Editing Process Added Balance [ ????]
3. Assuming the Killian Documents Were Authentic [????], They Added New Data to the Bush Texans Record

Over the years, I have been asked (and I sometimes ask associates) to "come up with a rationale for [position X]. We know our position doesn't hold water, but we need something to offer up before we close the deal."

The foregoing "3 Factors" are just that - they are pure baloney. Just made up. There is probably a memo from a legal associate at Thornburgh's lawfirm entitled "Possible Arguments Against Political Bias." Somewhere in that memo is the associate's disclaimer, "Of course, these arguments are subject to substantive and persuasive rebuttal, but you asked me to craft the best arguments nonetheless." (I've had to write those over; they are professionally embarrassing, particularly when a boss would then pretend it was my fault that the argument was so lame.... .)

Such baloney is typically offered up with the endgame in sight, with the expectation that the baloney is going to be abandoned shortly. That's the tactical reason for using the baloney.
The problem with such baloney in the Report, is that there is no such endgame - the Report is the endgame. So.....why the inclusion of the baloney "3 Factors"?

Lame. Really lame.

CBS Legal: Memogate vs. DishonorGate

"Imagine an alternative Memogate: A reporter submits a story in August 2004 about the strong likelihood that "Citizen Soldier" John Kerry received a less-than-honorable discharge from the Naval Reserve. The story is based in part upon purported copies of military files that Kerry had refused to release (or, some other such documents). Now, visualize the process that CBS News would go through in addressing the story and vetting those documents. Now, compare that scenario with the facts of Rathergate. There's the bias - you know it when you see it."

They don't even know they're biased.

From the Report (p. 120) - the role of CBS Legal:

"CBS lawyers, Jonathan Sternberg and Richard Altabef, were first informed about Mapes' TexANG story on the morning of Wednesday, September 8, when they attended the screening for another story which was scheduled to air that night if the TexANG story did not air. In contrast to the September 8 Segment, the lawyers had been extensively involved in reviewing the other piece.

"...[A]t or around 11 a.m., the vetting session with the lawyers regarding the Segment was held. A final decision had not yet been made to air the story that night. Present at this meeting were at least Mapes, Sternberg, Altabef, Howard, Kartiganer, Murphy and West, although West apparently was in and out of the meeting. At this meeting, Sternberg and Altabef were shown the documents and a rough script for the first time....

"The Panel finds that Mapes' failure to disclose to the vetters and the lawyers all of the information that tended to undermine the Segment was a serious problem in the production of the Segment. The Panel faults not only Mapes, however. The Panel also finds that those present at the meeting, including 60 Minutes Wednesday management, West and the lawyers, should have probed more deeply.

"Specifically, as a group, they should have asked more specific questions of Mapes in order to: determine the chain of custody and what had been done to find Chief Warrant Officer Conn; learn about the authentication process, the extent to which the documents had, in fact, been authenticated and what exactly the examiners had said; and understand what the basis was for the statements made by Lieutenant Strong that were included in the script.

"The Panel does not feel that it is unfair hindsight to have expected the vetters to have probed far more deeply at the meeting on September 8. This was an extraordinarily sensitive and significant story that was being crashed, which should have caused great care and thoroughness in the vetting process. This clearly was not achieved.

"...While the Panel continues to believe that the vetting for the September 8 Segment was not adequate, .... nothing in this Report should be construed to suggest that the vetting group believed that the Segment had any unresolved issues or was otherwise not ready to air by 8 p.m. EST on September 8. "

"Gosh, seemed OK to us." They don't even know they're biased.


Mapes: "I think all these people are nuts"


Mapes email, regarding document experts warning her of fakery:

"I think all these people are nuts.” (p. 111)

Louis, I Need A Synonym for Tampering

The CBS Report addresses the decision to let Mapes and company engage in a cover-up. A real Timmy moment:

"If the validity of information presented in a 60 Minutes Wednesday segment comes under a significant challenge...reporting on the challenge should not be left largely or entirely in the hands of those who created the segment at issue...

"The Panel notes that once the attacks began on the September 8 Segment, essentially the same people who developed the challenged segment had control of the news reports defending it. This resulted in opportunities for other news organizations to the reporting that exposed serious problems in the Segment."

The red-highlighted portion above is quite a piece of work, including the intentionally jumbled syntax to avoid using the dreaded "tampering" or "cover-up" words. The Report justifies the need for an independent follow-up team with the idea that without an independent person, some competitor will expose the problem first!

Ethics: It's wrong, because you might get caught? "The reason why someone else needs to check disputed work is to avoid a competitor exposing the problem first."

Let me restate it for my legal bretheren: "Arson suspects should not be in charge of the on-site fire investigation."

CBS Report Is Released

[Update: Imagine if a CBS News staffer had written a story about Citizen Soldier's John Kerry's less-than-honorable discharge from the Naval Reserve. Visualize the amount of scrutiny that CBS would give to the supporting documents and experts in such matter (i.e. purported copies of the 100+ pages of military records Kerry refused to release). Compare that scenario, with Memogate. It's obvious when you tee it up like that. That's political bias, folks. And they don't even know they're biased....]

My quick reaction after 30 minutes with the Report: It has substance, and some veteran CBS people are being fired. There is a mea culpa for the utter breakdown of journalism rules.

But the Report directly denies that "political bias" of the CBS department was behind the story, and deftly skirts other 30,000-feet issues: Legal wrongdoing; the smoking gun of the "personal files" claim; and the critical facts as to the pre-broadcast scheming to coordinate a 60-Minutes segment as the cornerpiece of an anti-Swift Boat political attack.

It's like a murderer confessing to drunk driving, speeding, carrying a concealed weapon and assault and battery. OK, per se ....but there's a dead body to account for.....

At this early juncture, it's more than I expected, but it only addresses the obvious. Political interests are protected by not being included in the Report. The critical "personal files" angle - the smoking gun - is blamed on Burkett, without analysis.

Quick highlights:

"...The Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing of the segment or its content.' " Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

"While the panel said it was not prepared to brand the Killian documents as an outright forgery, it raised serious questions about their authenticity and the way CBS News handled them." Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

A bit better is Les Moonves: "The Panel also found that Mapes presented half-truths as facts to those with whom she worked....In this case, as described by the Panel, her basic reporting was faulty and her responses when questioned led others who trusted her down the wrong road. Her confidential source was not reliable and her authenticators were unable to authenticate the documents, and yet she maintained the opposite. In addition, the Panel cites a number of instances where Mapes’ accounts radically differ from those of her colleagues and sources. This is truly disquieting. For these reasons and many others outlined in the Panel’s work, Mary Mapes is terminated, effective immediately."

In other words, Mapes is a liar.

There is this really good, adult response (albeit it still skirts the big issues): "We will immediately create a position of Senior Vice President of Standards and Special Projects, reporting to the President of CBS News. This executive will be assigned expanded new duties as part of upholding and enforcing CBS News Standards."

CBS Press Release here.

224-page Report here.

Official CBS Response to Report by Les Moonves here. (This is a good read.....)


"Personal Files" claim. The Report whitewashes this critical legal point, and does not settle who concocted the "personal files" claim. The Report implicitly blames Burkett, without analysis:

"The most serious defects in the reporting and production of the September 8 Segment were:... The failure to establish a basis for the statement in the Segment that the documents 'were taken from Colonel Killian’s personal files':"

"Mapes told the Panel that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett informed her that the documents came from Lieutenant Colonel Killian's personal file ...."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Ouch. Truth Hurts. We Are Better.

Victor Davis Hanson again awes me with his insight. Read the whole thing:

"…Imagine a world in which there was no United States during the last 15 years. Iraq, Iran, and Libya would now have nukes. Afghanistan would remain a seventh-century Islamic terrorist haven sending out the minions of Zarqawi and Bin Laden worldwide. The lieutenants of Noriega, Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam, and Moammar Khaddafi would no doubt be adjudicating human rights at the United Nations. The Ortega Brothers and Fidel Castro, not democracy, would be the exemplars of Latin America. Bosnia and Kosovo would be national graveyards like Pol Pot's Cambodia…. Europeans would be in two-day mourning that their arms sales to Arab monstrocracies ensured a second holocaust. North Korea would be shooting missiles over Tokyo from its new bases around Seoul and Pusan. For their own survival, Germany, Taiwan, and Japan would all now be nuclear. Americans know all that — and yet they grasp that their own vigilance and military sacrifices have earned them spite rather than gratitude. And they are ever so slowly learning not much to care anymore.

"In fact, an American consensus is growing that envy and hatred of the United States, coupled with utopian and pacifistic rhetoric, disguise an even more depressing fact: Outside our shores there is a growing barbarism with no other sheriff in sight. Any cinema student of the American Western can fathom why the frightened townspeople — huddled in their churches and shuttered schools — almost hated the lone marshal as much as they did the six-shooting outlaw gang rampaging in their streets. After all, the holed-up 'good' citizens were always angry that the lawman had shamed them, worried that he might make dangerous demands on their insular lives, confused about whether they would have to accommodate themselves either to savagery or civilization in their town's future, and, above all, assured that they could libel and slur the tin star in a way that would earn a bullet from the lawbreaker. It was precisely that paradox between impotent high-sounding rhetoric and blunt-speaking, roughshod courage that lay at the heart of the classic Western….

"China, flush with billions in trade surplus, first offers a few million to its immediate Asian neighbors before increasing its contributions in the wake of massive gifts from Japan and the United States. Peking's gesture was what the usually harsh New York Times magnanimously called "slightly belated." In this weird sort of global high-stakes charity poker, no one asks why tiny Taiwan out-gives one billion mainlanders or why Japan proves about the most generous of all — worried the answer might suggest that postwar democratic republics, resurrected and nourished by the United States and now deeply entrenched in the Western liberal tradition of democracy, capitalism, and humanitarianism, are more civil societies than the Islamic theocracies, socialist republics, and authoritarian autocracies of the once-romanticized third world….

"All this hypocrisy has desensitized Americans, left and right, liberal and conservative. We will finish the job in Iraq, nursemaid democratic Afghanistan through its birthpangs, and continue to ensure that bandits and criminal states stay off the world's streets. But what is new is that the disenchanted American is becoming savvy and developing a long memory — and so we all fear the day is coming when he casts aside the badge, rides the buckboard out of town, and leaves such sanctimonious folk to themselves."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Citizen's Private Right of Action under Texas Deceptive Trades Practices Act

You worry that the Thornburgh Report will be released, in an abridged form. Nothing of true substance will be included. Unless a Texas law enforcement officer starts a criminal investigation, the matter dies. The linkage between CBS and the DNC gets deep-sixed. The details are covered up as to how a political campaign disguised itself as a news program. Viacom and CBS successfully terminate "Memogate." CBS effectively scrubs the Memogate files.

It doesn't have to end that way.

You've read at this blog about the peculiar Texas forgery law concerning fake "government records," and how it has confounded CBS. There's another set of statutes, too. And they are a key reason why the Thornburgh Report will be so abridged, under worry that disclosure of details will waive the attorney-client privilege. It's the set of consumer fraud statutes at Texas Business & Commerce Code Sec. 17.01 et seq - DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES - CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT.

The Texas laws basically prohibit false advertising and holding out false goods and services. The "Killian Memos" are fake, and as such are "tangible personal property" covered by the Act. it might also be possible that the 60 Minutes II broadcast constitutes a "service" under the Act. the Act is broadly defined, applying to the spectrum from door-to-door salesmen to "broadcast stations."

Most importantly, they provide that citizens can sue - a "private right of action." There is some limited protection for media entities, for unknowingly broadcasting misleading commericials, but not for broadcast content itself.

So here are your tools. BummerDietz has no strong Texas contacts, albeit I have tried for a couple of months to interest a few distant contacts in Texas with this, to no avail. So I urge any Texas readers to find a like-minded attorney and run with this. Tell the attorney that § 17.50(d) states that "Each consumer who prevails shall be awarded court costs and reasonable and necessary attorneys' fees."

Some highlights:


(a) False, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful and are subject to action by the consumer protection division under Sections 17.47, 17.58, 17.60, and 17.61 of this code.

(b) Except as provided in Subsection (d) of this section, the term "false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices" includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:

(1) passing off goods or services as those of another;
(2) causing confusion or misunderstanding as to the
source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;
(3) causing confusion or misunderstanding as to affiliation, connection, or association with, or certification by, another;
(5) representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities which they do not have...;
(7) representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if they are of another;
(8) disparaging the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representation of facts;
(22) representing that work or services have been performed on, or parts replaced in, goods when the work or services were not performed ...;
(24) failing to disclose information concerning goods or services which was known at the time of the transaction if such failure to disclose such information was intended to induce the consumer into a transaction into which the consumer would not have entered had the information been disclosed;

§ 17.12. DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING. (a) No person may disseminate a statement he knows materially misrepresents the ... character of tangible personal property... service, or anything he may offer for the purpose of (1) selling, contracting to sell, otherwise disposing of, or contracting to dispose of the tangible personal property, ... service, or anything he may offer; or (2) inducing a person to contract with regard to the tangible personal property, ... service, or anything he may offer.

Edited version under 17.12: No person may disseminate a statement he knows materially misrepresents the character of tangible personal property or a service for the purpose of inducing a person to contract with regard to the tangible personal property, service, or anything he may offer.

A little lawyering to apply 17.12 to the 60 Minutes II Broadcast: No network may badly misrepresent felonious, forged memos as being authentic, in order to induce viewers to watch the show, thereby either a) increasing (or maintaining) the show's ratings allowing the network to charge higher ad rates, or b) inducing viewers to buy products and services by selling commercial time to advertisers during the misrepresentative segment.

Any Texas citizen who viewed the 60 Minutes II segment, and/or was induced by any commercial(s) broadcast during the segment, can sue CBS.

§ 17.50. RELIEF FOR CONSUMERS. (a) A consumer may maintain an action where any of the following constitute a producing cause of economic damages or damages for mental anguish:

(1) the use or employment by any person of a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice that is specifically enumerated in [17.46(b)], and relied on by a consumer to the consumer's detriment; [or]
(3) any unconscionable action or course of action by any person;

The foregoing 17.50 is the "private right of action" that plaintiff attorneys covet. No official action in required; any aggrieved person with standing may sue.

The loopholes for media are not big enough to save CBS here:

§ 17.49. EXEMPTIONS. (a) Nothing in this subchapter shall apply to the owner or employees of a regularly published newspaper, magazine, or telephone directory, or broadcast station,
or billboard, wherein any advertisement in violation of this subchapter is published or disseminated, unless it is established that the owner or employees of the advertising medium have knowledge of the false, deceptive, or misleading acts or practices declared to be unlawful by this subchapter, or had a direct or substantial financial interest in the sale or distribution of the unlawfully advertised good or service. Financial interest as used in this section relates to an expectation which would be the direct result of such advertisement.

(b) Nothing in this subchapter shall apply to acts or practices authorized under specific rules or regulations promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission under Section 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act [15 U.S.C.A. 45(a)(1) ]. The provisions of this subchapter do apply to any act or practice prohibited or not specifically authorized by a rule or regulation of the Federal Trade Commission. An act or practice is not specifically authorized if no rule or regulation has been issued on the act or practice.

Run with it.