Accuracy in Media

Victor Navasky of the Nation magazine is defending Dan Rather as someone “who has anchored CBS News with passion and professionalism for twenty-three years.” This ludicrous endorsement only makes matters worse for Rather. At this point, Rather does not need messages of support from editors of far-left magazines. Navasky does admit that the controversy over the use of fake documents is an “embarrassment” for Rather and CBS, but he takes the Dan Rather line that the documents may turn out to be accurate.

The New York Times reports that the investigation of Rather by a two-member team could hasten his departure from the network, depending on how damaging the report is. On the other hand, the Times said the report “could extend his stay at the anchor desk, particularly if the network decides that it cannot make a move until the controversy over the guard report has sufficiently cooled.” That means that CBS doesn’t want to appear to be bending to the will of the people for Rather to go. That would be another exercise in media arrogance.

USA Today highlighted a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll finding that 56 percent said that Rather and CBS had made an honest mistake ? perhaps because of “carelessness in their fact-checking and reporting” ? and that 64 percent said CBS should not fire Rather. The poll also found 55 percent of people think they can trust CBS News to report the news accurately, while 41 percent said they can’t. Asked about general media accuracy, 52 percent were positive and 47 percent negative.

It’s rather hilarious that USA Today should be paying for polls about Dan Rather’s credibility when this national newspaper ran virtually the same story about Bush and the National Guard using the same phony documents. USA Today compounded the outrage, citing the fact that CBS had done the story as a reason why it should go forward.  USA Today did absolutely nothing to verify the documents. The paper is pretending it hasn’t been implicated in the scandal, hoping the public and the press will continue to focus on CBS.

Apparently because of that connection, USA Today yanked a high profile full- page ad calling for CBS to fire Dan Rather. The ad was paid for by RightMarch.com, which had run three prior hard-hitting full-page ads in the past with USA Today with no problem. The group explained, “We’ve taken out three nationwide full-page ads in USA Today in the past, so we know our money is good with their ad department?apparently, it’s our content that has now frightened their boys in Legal. They’re scared of our ad telling the whole country about Dan Rather’s liberal, anti-Bush bias, and telling Americans to demand that CBS News come clean and rein him in.”

But the group suggested there could be another explanation. “At first,” it said, “We were told that their legal department had nixed it. Maybe that’s not surprising, since USA Today had been given the same forged documents that CBS News had gotten, and had run the same story to begin with.” Yes, that’s likely the main reason why USA Today killed the ad. This paper will cover for CBS in the hope that USA Today will be spared some scrutiny in the same scandal. We say, “Can Dan,” and then clean house at USA Today.




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