Accuracy in Media

AIM founder Reed Irvine’s “Can Dan” campaign against Dan Rather, launched 16 years ago, appears to be on the verge of success.

AIM members, staffers and supporters gathered outside the CBS News offices in Washington, D.C., on September 21 to call for the firing of Dan Rather in the wake of the CBS Evening News anchorman’s use of forged documents in a story designed to discredit President Bush. Rather, in a “60 Minutes” broadcast on September 8, featured documents purportedly authored by a National Guard commander, in order to prove that Bush had neglected his service to the nation as a young man in the Guard during the Vietnam War.

In a statement to the press, AIM editor Cliff Kincaid said that CBS had been caught “in the middle of a criminal conspiracy” that was seeking “to use forged documents to bring down an American president.” Kincaid added, “This is a brazen attempt to deceive the American people and subvert a U.S. presidential election.”

AIM was joined by members of the FreeRepublic.com, one of the national websites featuring the Internet “bloggers” who were the first to draw attention to the discrepancies in the CBS documents and the fact that they were likely forgeries. For their efforts, a former CBS News executive ridiculed them as people wearing their pajamas in front of their computers.

But at the anti-CBS protest, several of the “Freepers,” including FreeRepublic spokesman Kristinn Taylor, proudly wore their pajamas. (The complete statements of Kincaid and Taylor are included at the end of this AIM Report).

Rather eventually apologized for the broadcast and acknowledged that the network received the documents from bitter ex-Guardsman Bill Burkett, a partisan critic of Bush who admitted deceiving the network about where they had come from. Burkett did not identify their ultimate source.

CBS then announced that former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and retired Associated Press (AP) official Louis Boccardi would investigate the scandal. 

But AIM said that the current Attorney General?or at least the FBI?might have an interest in the “Rathergate” matter. After all, forging government documents is a violation of federal and state law. 

Federal law prohibits the forging of government or public records for the purpose of defrauding the U.S. In a Supreme Court case, Hammerschmidt v. United States, Chief Justice Taft defined “defraud” as follows: “To conspire to defraud the United States means primarily to cheat the Government out of property or money, but it also means to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest.” This means, the Justice said, that it “is not necessary that the Government shall be subjected to property or pecuniary loss by the fraud, but only that its legitimate official action and purpose shall be defeated by misrepresentation” or fraud. 

The broadcasting of forged documents to affect a presidential campaign and election clearly falls in the parameters of “conspiracy to defraud.”

Ironically, CBS initially claimed that it was the responsibility of the White House to expose the documents as forgeries. Its rationale is that it turned the forgeries over to the White House communications director Dan Bartlett, who did not immediately expose or denounce them as forgeries. The Washington Post reported that CBS correspondent John Roberts called “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes “with word that Bartlett was not challenging the authenticity of the documents. Mapes told her bosses, who were so relieved that they cut from Rather’s story an interview with a handwriting expert who had examined the memos. At that point, said ’60 Minutes’ executive Josh Howard, ‘we completely abandoned the process of authenticating the documents.'”

With such a position, CBS should not now object to an FBI investigation into the origin and distribution of the forgeries. It should be prepared to waive its First Amendment privileges in order to determine the truth and punish the perpetrators of this fraud.

USA Today Commits Fraud

USA Today, the most widely read paper in the U.S., also received and publicized the phony documents from Burkett, assuming they were authentic. But its standards for “verifying” the documents turned out to be even worse than those of CBS News!

On Sept. 9, one day after the “60 Minutes” story aired, USA Today was out with its own story under the headline, “Guard commander’s memos criticize Bush,” by Dave Moniz and Jim Drinkard. The story was based on “newly disclosed documents,” the paper claimed. It said “the memos” were “obtained by USA Today and also reported Wednesday on the CBS program 60 Minutes?” It went on to say that White House communications director Dan Bartlett “did not dispute the documents’ authenticity.”

Like CBS, USA Today expected the White House to do the job of verifying the documents. Obviously, the White House did not have enough time to do that. And it’s not the administration’s job to research stories for the Big Media. The White House took the defensible position that it was assuming the documents were valid because they had been supplied by a “reputable” news organization. The White House didn’t think Dan Rather would sink so low as to pawn off phony documents as legitimate.

Not only did USA Today make the same mistake as CBS News, but the newspaper’s editors used the CBS News broadcast of the story as further proof that they were somehow valid. Hence, USA Today’s “fact-checking” was even worse than CBS News,’ which at least went through the motions of appearing to consult some “experts” about the documents’ validity. Then, however, CBS ignored the doubts and “forged” ahead.

USA Today editor Ken Paulsen has been asked by AIM to explain and apologize.

SOROS, DIRTY TRICKS, AND CAMPAIGN COVERAGE

Supporters of President Bush who think that a lead in the polls guarantees victory on November 2 have missed the significance of the behind-the-scenes efforts to buy the White House for John Kerry by stuffing the ballot box. Buried deep in a story about a big increase in millions of “new voters” for the Democratic Party, the New York Times acknowledged that “prosecutors in Columbus [Ohio] have filed criminal charges against an Acorn registrar, saying that he filed a false registration form and forged a signature.” Acorn is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a left-wing group that supports Kerry.

Two days before the Times story appeared, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that a preliminary inquiry is finding about one thousand fraudulent voter registrations. It reported that “enforcement officials said their investigation is centered on absentee registration attempts by the nonpartisan NAACP’s National Voter Fund and an anti-Bush, nonprofit group called Americans Coming Together, or ACT Ohio.”

ACT has been paying 1,500 canvassers $8 – $12 an hour to go door-to-door in 17 “battleground states”?including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. This “527” group has raised $80 million and is the best- funded get-out-the-vote effort in Democratic Party history.

Billionaire George Soros, a supporter of drug legalization, has poured millions of dollars into get-out-the-vote drives to benefit Kerry. ACT alone was given $10 million by Soros.

In another political maneuver, Soros and groups allied with him pulled off an upset in a district attorney’s race in Albany County, New York in mid-September. The New York Post, one of the few papers to cover this surprising development, noted that an “unusual infusion of big money into local upstate politics” by Soros had “engineered a stunning defeat of the incumbent,” a DA supporting the war on drugs. The winner in the primary was David Soares, who promised to treat drug users with more leniency.

Supporters of the losing candidate, Albany DA Paul Clyne, charged that Soares received “illegal” money through a group which in turn got the money?more than $81,000?from the Soros-funded Drug Policy Alliance. Clyne commented, “A drug-legalization group funds the race for district attorney?that’s kind of scary. And some of the public bought it.” Albany County Republicans announced a suit to stop the DPA from pouring even more money into the race.

But Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance isn’t bashful about claiming credit for the defeat of Clyne. In an email, the group called Clyne “a drug war zealot” because he insisted on prosecuting drug users, abusers and traffickers. The email boasted, “The Drug Policy Alliance Network contributed to this race and is receiving national media attention as a result.” Nadelmann said the upset victory by the soft-on-drugs candidate “has national resonance.”

That may mean that an upset could occur on the national level, in the presidential contest on November 2nd. If Soros is successful and Kerry wins because of this support, he will be in deep debt to a billionaire whose main public policy goal is to turn America into a version of “Needle Park,” the infamous place in Switzerland where drug addicts openly used heroin with government-supplied needles. It’s a story the media won’t tell.

In what amounts to a possible “October surprise” against Bush, Soros himself announced that he was going on a tour of at least 11 cities in the month of October, in order to rally the public and the media against the President. “In each city,” stated a press release, “he will give a public speech, meet with local media and take out newspaper advertisements.” The first ad was scheduled to run in the September 29 Wall Street Journal.

The cities included Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Cleveland and Akron, Ohio; Sarasota and Miami, Florida; Boston, Mass.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The last AIM Report noted that the major media have been “desperate to avoid scrutiny of how or where leftist billionaire George Soros is getting the tens of millions of dollars that he is using to finance anti-Bush advertising campaigns and pro-Democratic Party political efforts before the November 2 election.”

We are renewing our call for the media to subject Soros to scrutiny and discover where he is getting the money to finance his political activities.  

The media are also largely ignoring charges by independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader that the Democratic Party is using “anti-democratic dirty tricks” that amount to “a mini-Watergate scandal.”

It’s no secret that the Democrats want Nader off state ballots because they fear he will siphon votes from Kerry.  But at a press conference in Washington, D.C., the Nader campaign produced evidence of Democratic Party misconduct that may cross the line into illegal activity.

In Oregon, the campaign said that Nader supporters have been subjected to “smears, sabotage, and intimidation by Democratic front groups.” Nader’s Oregon spokesman Greg Kafoury referred to “gangster-style tactics of the Democrats, which ranged from sabotaging our nominating convention to visiting petitioners in their homes at night, falsely telling them they were under criminal investigation.”

Signature gatherers for Nader in Oregon were told that they faced a felony, five years in jail, or a $100,000 fine if some of the names on their petitions were invalid. But that’s only the case if there is deliberate fraud. The name of a voter misspelling an address could be termed questionable or even “fraudulent” but the petitioner could not face criminal charges over such an error.

Nader said the Democrats are waging “a direct attack on the right to petition protected by the Constitution.” At the Washington news conference, the Nader campaign also played a tape of sworn testimony by the head of the Democratic Party in Maine, Dorothy Malanson, in which she admitted that the Democratic National Committee is paying for her time, her lawyers, and other expenses related to the campaign to keep Nader off the ballot. A press release from the Nader campaign added. “All this is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg, under the surface, is for the media to investigate and uncover…”

But reporters who think Nader is draining votes from Kerry will likely sit on their hands.

WHY DAN RATHER MUST GO

Statement by Cliff Kincaid, editor, AIM Report:

When the New York Times was finally caught running Jayson Blair stories based on fabrications, Blair was gone, and so were two Times editors. In the CBS “Rathergate” scandal, by contrast, no one has been fired. It appears that CBS wants to “forge ahead” with the disgraced and discredited anchorman, who relied on forged documents and once said that Bill Clinton was an honest liar. (Rather said, “I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”)

We want to say this personally and directly to Dan Rather: We’re sorry, but you have to go. And your producer Mary Mapes and CBS News President Andrew Heyward have to go, too. We say to Dan Rather: put on your pajamas, become a blogger, and take Journalism 101.

Thank heavens we have the bloggers in pajamas at the FreeRepublic.com who did the research that exposed the CBS documents as fakes. They are the true journalists. Dan Rather and Mary Mapes are political partisans masquerading as journalists.

I was on a show last night with former CBS newsman Daniel Schorr, who said CBS and Dan Rather were the victims here. No, Mr. Schorr. President Bush was the victim here. And the American people were victimized by a partisan liberal “news” operation working with the Kerry campaign to bring down the president.

CBS has been caught in the middle of a criminal conspiracy, with links to the Kerry campaign, to use forged documents to bring down an American president. This is a brazen attempt to deceive the American people and subvert a U.S. presidential election. Current federal law prohibits the use of false, altered or forged public records and documents to defraud the U.S. Penalties include up to ten years in prison.

Dan Rather is known for his Texas sayings. Well, the book Texas Sayings by Anne Dingus (and her follow-up More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At) has one saying that applies to Rather?”he’s as greasy as fried lard.” Rather must also be aware of the saying, “Don’t dig up more snakes than you can kill.” Rather is neck-deep in snakes. But I’m sure the bloggers will welcome him to their pajama party.

Statement by Kristinn Taylor, spokesman for FreeRepublic.com and Co-Leader of the D.C. Chapter of Free Republic:

Two years ago, CBS News anchor Dan Rather criticized the American people while he was overseas, saying there was an atmosphere of intimidation against the media at home akin to the horrific necklacing that occurred in South Africa during the anti-apartheid movement. Specifically, he said, “It’s an obscene comparison, but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tires around people’s necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be necklaced here. You will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck.”

Dan Rather, Andrew Heyward and Mary Mapes, in coordination with the Kerry campaign, tried to necklace a president of the United States by trying to knock him out of contention in the election with the flaming tire of forged documents.

‘Pajama-clad’ posters on FreeRepublic.com were the first to raise questions as to the legitimacy of the Texas Air National Guard documents used by CBS on the September 8th broadcast of 60 Minutes II. Even while the story was being aired, the authenticity of the documents was being doubted by FReepers. Later that night, after the documents were posted to CBS News’ website, a FReeper known as Buckhead analyzed them and declared them to be forgeries.

As doubts about the articles spread to the blogosphere and then to the old media, CBS News responded in Nixonian fashion: Stonewalling, attacking the messengers, and questioning the credibility of people like Gen. Staudt who tried to clear their good name.

In a mirror image of Mr. Rather’s insolent treatment of President Nixon at a press conference when Mr. Nixon asked Mr. Rather if he were running for something and Mr. Rather replied, “No, Mr. President. Are you?” Mr. Rather recently responded to a Fox News reporter asking him if he felt duped by asking the reporter if he felt duped working for Fox News.

Now CBS News is employing the Watergate-era ‘modified limited hangout.’ However, like Watergate, the effort to control the scandal is spinning out of control with confirmation that CBS News colluded with the Kerry campaign before the story aired.

There is a cancer on the Tiffany Network. In order to regain a modicum of trust and respectability, CBS needs to follow the example of The New York Times which fired Howell Raines, Gerald Boyd and Jayson Blair when faced with revelations of similarly fraudulent reporting and clean house.

Les Moonves needs to immediately fire CBS News President Andrew Heyward, who approved the fraudulent story; Dan Rather, who reported the fraudulent story; and Mary Mapes, the producer of the fraudulent story. Apologies should be made to President Bush, the Killian family and Gen. Staudt, all of whom were unjustly smeared by CBS.

I’d like to thank Accuracy in Media for their valiant thirty-five year effort to hold the media accountable for their biased and fraudulent reporting.

What You Can Do

Send cards and letters of your own choosing to Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone and Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer of CBS News.

Mr. Sumner Redstone
CEO
Viacom Inc.
1515 Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10036 

Mr. Dan Rather
CBS Evening News
524 West 57th St.
New York, N.Y. 10019

Mr. Bob Schieffer
CBS News
2020 M St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036




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