More “Memo-gate” Casualties

And so, the asinine decision by Dan Rather and his crack team of zealots to beat the dead-horse-story of the President’s use of his Daddy’s name (as always) to evade military service, rather than a RELEVANT STORY LIKE ABU GHRAIB, has caused CBS to sack four producers responsible for the TANG (Texas Air National Guard) story and subsequent defense of said story.
I realize the conventional wisdom is that bloggers somehow brought this story to light. Of course, this conveniently overlooks that those “bloggers” were Republican operatives, just using the cool new medium and some pseudonyms, and the speed it provides to start making the wild accusations on Free Republic before the story had even gone off the air! And to this day, given that an IBM Selectric typewriter of that era was quite capable of the proportionate spacing and other aspects of creating the memo, there is no definitive evidence that the memo is a forgery (of course, given that all CBS had was a copy, there is no definitive evidence that it’s not!).
No– I say good riddance to these misguided people, and I resent them for doing Karl Rove’s dirty work. There is no TANG story. Everyone who knows anything about anything has long ago factored in the fact that George W. Bush successfully evaded serving in Vietnam by having friends of his Daddy the Congressman get him a cushy spot in the Texas Air Guard (a privilege also obtained, for example, by members of the Dallas Cowboys, and other rich kids). Remember that Vice-President Dan Quayle also used his Daddy’s money and power to get him a spot in Indiana’s National Guard (thousands of miles between South Bend and South Vietnam, of course). Of course, unlike Dubya, Quayle served honorably, and has no myserious absences in his service record (right around the time they initiated drug tests.)
BUT BUSH IS ALREADY PRESIDENT, AND THIS STORY WAS WELL KNOWN BACK IN 2000. You see, trying to juxtapose Kerry’s heroic service (which, I think, it is fair to say, included some “grade inflation”, though it was, unlike Bush, honorable, and actually involved serving in actual combat at great personal risk) was a huge, catastrophic mistake. It was an old story, and a well-known story, at that. Why not report on Laura Bush killing her boyfriend Michael Douglas in 1963 (at least, that story was less well-known…)
Worst of all, thanks to Memogate, ABU GHRAIB, THE STORY THAT MATTERED (ironically, the same show– 60 Minutes II– broke the Abu Ghraib story in a segment also produced by the now-fired-in-this-incident Mary Mapes) got blown off the front pages. Instead, of course, the media preferred to feast on one of its own, given Dan Rather’s bizarre insistence on remaining wedded to the (unnecessary) TANG story. And so, weeks went by where the only media attention out there was NOT to the disastrous consequences of the war in Iraq, including the complete and total loss of this nation’s moral authority in the Arab world or anywhere else, but whether the ordinarily hubristic as it is Dan Rather finally went over the top. The media LOVES a back-biting Hollywood kind of story– and Rather gave it to them. (BTW– KERRY HELPED… I said at the time that Kerry should have immediately issued a de-fusing statement, blasting anyone “on his team” responsible for this smear… it would have taken it off the front pages, but Kerry, as usual, was too much of a coward and ass-coverer.)
Politics is ostensibly the art of underhanded salesmanship: you try to oversell the positive features of your man, and to oversell the negatives of the other guy. Lying is encouraged, in our system. About everything.
The Memo-gate story gave the media exactly what it wanted most: a celebrity driven story of no real substantive content that saved them the actual work of reporting on an otherwise dull campaign. Dan Rather and his hubris gave us exactly that. And effort that could have gone into a story that mattered and the voters cared about (that would be more Abu Ghraib follow-up) went into a story that had been trod over for years, with no effect.
And, as usual, Karl Rove played it like a fiddle. So good riddance to you, Mary Mapes, and Josh Howard and Betsy West and Mary Murphy. And especially to you, Dan Rather. You FUBAR’ed this one, big time. And not that he needed it, but you helped George W. Bush. A lot. And for that, I’m sure he thanks you. Because you exercised pathetic journalistic judgment. No– your handling of the story was bad enough. I’m talking about doing the story at all.
Maddening. Just maddening.