Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, September 20, 2004
No news this past weekend, unless you count a couple of occasions on which Mark Latham raged at reporters for asking hard questions, or the late discovery by the Melbourne Age of Rathergate.

Mark Steyn had discovered Rathergate a week ago, but he drives the point home firmly in his latest comment:
As the network put it last week, ''In accordance with longstanding journalistic ethics, CBS News is not prepared to reveal its confidential sources or the method by which '60 Minutes' Wednesday received the documents.'' But, once they admit the documents are fake, they can no longer claim ''journalistic ethics'' as an excuse to protect their source. There's no legal or First Amendment protection afforded to a man who peddles a fraud. You'd think CBS would be mad as hell to find whoever it was who stitched them up and made them look idiots.

So why aren't they? The only reasonable conclusion is that the source -- or trail of sources -- is even more incriminating than the fake documents. Why else would Heyward and Rather allow the CBS news division to commit slow, public suicide?
And that is why the story that the Age, Henny Herald and my old Auntie are reluctant to mention may yet decide the fate of John Kerry's campaign to become Preisident of the USA.

The Republicans are confident enough of the outcome of Rathergate to put the subject on the President's comments list, but CBS, as recently as last Saturday, was still defending the forgeries.

According to CBS, one of the several thousand people who have observed the crude implausibility of the forgeries was a Republican supporter.
An Internet writer considered the first to accuse CBS News of using fake documents in its report on President Bush's National Guard service is an Atlanta lawyer with strong ties to Republican causes, a newspaper reported Saturday.
It would have been a pipsqueak of a defence ten days ago; now it insults our intelligence and sinks further CBS's own reputation.

Later: the unexpurgated version of the Roger Franklin article in the Age can be found here.