Thursday, January 06, 2005

That CBS Report

The findings of the CBS "RatherGate" Internal Investigation are set to be released on Friday. (I join others in speculating it will be released around 5 pm so that it will be buried in the weekend out of the normal news cycle. But we'll see.) Most speculate that the report will be deeply disappointing and incomplete. One thing is absolutely certain, though: the blogosphere will be abuzz tomorrow. It should be an interesting day. Check in with Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, Little Green Footballs, TKS, and Instapundit to see the report disected in real time.

Powerline already has some questions--exerpted from a lengthier post:

The fundamental question here is whether CBS was the victim of a hoax, or the perpetrator of a hoax. It has been our view for a long time that Rather and his colleagues were perpetrators, not victims, in part because the documents were such obvious fakes that it strains credulity to suppose that they were actually fooled. When you read the Thornburgy/Boccardi report, keep that question constantly in mind: victim, or perpetrator?

There are lots of problems with CBS's effort to portray itself as the victim of a hoax, but perhaps the most intractable is Dan Rather's personal vouching for the documents. Trust me, he said to America. I know they're authentic. They came from an unimpeachable source. That takes CBS out of the category of victim, and into the category of perpetrator.

As a trial lawyer, there are lots of witnesses I'd love to cross-examine and lots of questions I'd love to ask. On Hugh Hewitt's show tonight, I said that the first one would be of Dan Rather: On what basis did you personally guarantee that the documents were authentic? What source did you describe as "unimpeachable"? Why? If the source was Bill Burkett, it is hard to imagine anyone more impeachable. Maybe Rather was just lying, trying to brazen it out until after the election, so that his last "contribution" would be the election of John Kerry. Or maybe--this is my own idea, just a wild hunch--the source that Rather thought was "unimpeachable" was Max Cleland. But, of course, he couldn't admit this afterward, as the story unravelled, because his paramount concern was not to admit the coordination between CBS and the Kerry campaign.

Enough speculation. Tomorrow, the report--and we'll let you know what we think of it.