Now Playing: "Cold As Ice" by Foreigner
Steve Soto is complaining that CBS News is so timid from the ass-beating they took last year over the infamous Killian Forgeries that they are now taking orders from the White House.
No. Really. Soto begins:
During the flap over Dan Rather’s botched “60 Minutes” story on Bush’s TANG service and the memos used in that story, I had focused my fire on the fact that the Mighty Wurlitzer had never disproved the content of the memos, but managed to kill the story by blasting the sloppiness of CBS News and the composition of the memos themselves. The issue that remained at the end of the day, after the left and the right boomed their fire and fury about the memos, was the issue of how poorly CBS News had performed in putting the story together in the first place.Soto keeps calling the Killian Forgeries "memos," but they are not. They are forgeries. They are made-up bullshit that never existed as memos in any sense whatsoever.
And Soto persists with the absurdly Ratheresque claim that these phony documents ---which, again, he doesn't actually acknowledge are phony--- are accurate in their substance, even if ---mumble, mumble--- they are, uh, somehow ---mumble, mumble--- fake.
This wasn't about "sloppiness" or poor quality control ---and it still isn't incumbent upon the Bush White House to prove the negative.
Soto continues (all emphases mine):
That story has surfaced again, with tonight’s “60 Minutes” piece on former FBI Director Louis Freeh, wherein Freeh gets to tout his book and allege that Bill Clinton went easy on the Saudis when it came to going after Al Qaeda and those behind the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Freeh goes so far as to claim that not only did Clinton let the Saudis off the hook, but he put the arm on them at the meeting for a contribution to his presidential library project.What does Soto mean by saying that "that story has surfaced again"? What do the Killian Forgeries, Dan Rather, and Mary Mapes have to do with the new Freeh book?
Absolutely nothing. But Soto wants to tie them together, anyway, and hopes you don't recognize the illegitimacy of his efforts. He continues:
The issue of media accountability and evenhandedness came up at the end of last week when Howard Kurtz revealed that CBS News, still smarting from the whipping they got from the White House over the TANG memo disaster, had slanted the story so much that they refused to allow a rebuttal to Freeh’s charges in the piece unless it was the president himself who agreed to go on camera, something that “60 Minutes” has never required Bush to do.I never found any evidence that Kurtz made such an explicit claim. Is Soto the one making the claim that CBS News will only accept Clinton's direct denials of Freeh's claims because of their bad experiences with the Rathergate debacle? That is pretty astounding, if true. Soto goes on:
With pressure building over the last several days for CBS News to provide a balanced piece tonight instead of a piece of GOP propaganda using a man who himself blocked John O’Neill from going after the Saudis, Kurtz reports that morning that “60 Minutes” will allow a rebuttal of sorts tonight in the piece through the addition of a statement from somewhat discredited Clinton national security advisor Sandy “I stuffed the papers in my pants” Berger that will contradict Freeh’s claims. Berger is the less-than-perfect choice for this assignment, and CBS News will probably point this out during the piece.So, after all this bluster and nonsense, it turns out that CBS News is going to let someone speak on Clinton's behalf after all ---the only problem being that it's a convicted thief and liar who'll be doing it. Well, who's fault is that, Steve? Doesn't the fact that someone is coming on to defend Clinton make any difference?
But what is really troubling about this story, aside from the chutzpah of someone like Freeh accusing anyone else of going easy on the Saudis, is the agenda shown by CBS News in going after Clinton on this story, given that they were ready to air this story tonight without a rebuttal and without talking to anyone who was at the meeting in question. You see, CBS News was ready to air this story tonight on Freeh’s claims, when it turns out that Freeh himself wasn’t even at the meeting wherein he claims that Clinton asked the Saudis for a contribution and went easy on them regarding the Khobar Towers bombing.But on whose authority are we accepting that fact? How do we know that Mike Wallace didn't make an effort to talk to those guys on camera? I mean, if there were so many witnesses who are so interested in defending Clinton's honor, why can't they come on camera and do so?
And worse yet, Mike Wallace was told that there were at least five people who attended the meeting who could dispute Freeh’s allegations, and he was also told that Freeh wasn’t even at the meeting himself. Yet Wallace, “60 Minutes”, and CBS News were ready to put the smear on Clinton tonight anyway.What smear? Berger's on deck to say that Freeh's not telling the truth. And the other witnesses are free to come on any venue they want (maybe Madame Couric's program or Air America?) to deny the accusations. There's five of them, after all! And, unlike Jerry Killian, I'll bet they're all alive, too.
This is the kind of media treatment the GOP buys for itself by slapping around CBS News over the TANG disaster. It looks like Andrew Heyward, chief at CBS News, was quite ready to be the White House’s puppet, after getting a hall pass from them in the aftermath of the TANG mess. And had it not been for Kurtz’ piece in Friday’s Post, which was the first time the Clinton camp had even heard that CBS News was ready to run the smear without rebuttal, Heyward was all set to deliver exactly what the White House hoped from its investment.As I already told Soto, I'm not going to even ask for any evidence that the White House has bought or obtained editorial control over CBS News because we both know it's bullshit, from floor to ceiling.
I've seen more responsible analysis on the walls of pub restrooms.
Not incidentally, here's the link to the Kurtz column from last Friday which Soto references. See if you find anything about the White House paying or pressuring CBS News with regard to this Freeh story.