Collateral Damage or the Real Target?
Dan Rather and CBS really stepped into it when they decided to go with the "smoking gun" memos they got as they were preparing to air the story on George W Bush's ignoble behavior in the National Guard. These memos fell into their hands and instead of carefully vetting the documents, they changed their original story in order to have a harder hitting exposť. Yet, as I said earlier, this affair seems to be a trap that was laid for CBS.
Three specific aspects point to this being a Rove Dirty Trick:
- The documents "fell" into CBS's hands at a very opportune time - just as they were going to run a hard-hitting report on the lies that Bush used to take the country to war. Everyone now knows that Bill Burkett, someone who was on record that Bush's National Guard records had been tampered, gave these documents to CBS. He says he got them from some man at a livestock show after being contacted by a Lucy Ramirez. How easy would it be to setup Burkett? Probably pretty easy. In fact, Burkett could be the JH Hatfield of this story.
- Buckhead, the fellow who "broke" the story on FreeRepublic.com, was a Republican operative who had no background in typesetting and/or typography. How did MacDougald come up with a "a highly technical explanation posted within hours of airtime citing proportional spacing and font styles"? MacDougald doesn't make any claims that he is an expert on these matters, so where did the information come from and how was the "highly technical explanation" put together so fast?
- Who gains from this? The biggest winners are the Bush campaign and the VRWC. The scandal damaged Dan Rather, CBS News and denied the TV viewing public more information about how this administration operates. NPR's On The Media reports that just like another Rove Dirty Trick, the Republicans are using the Killian memos to smear the opposing campaign.
Now it turns out that this scandal has caused CBS to hold off airing their exposť about the forged Niger documents that the Bush administration used to build a case for going to war against Iraq. This week, On The Media opined (audio feed) that perhaps not airing the Niger report should be considered unfortunate collateral damage from the Killian memos scandal. But could it be that knocking off the Niger report was the actual target for the Bush campaign? After all, most people still don't know the depth of deception that this President used to get his war on. Today, as people are recoiling from the mess that is Iraq and seriously considering whether Bush should be elected, the Niger exposť would be a very damaging report. Did the Bush White House know about the CBS Niger report? Without a doubt.
In his closing, Bradley explains how fiercely the White House fought his report. Administration officials and Republicans in Congress turned down "60 Minutes'" requests for interview. So did former Rep. Porter Goss, the Florida Republican whom Bush has appointed as the new director of the CIA.
Read Salon's story about that CBS report and see if you don't agree that this report would have a very real impact on the election. (Remember, you can read any Salon article simply by clicking through the ad.)
So let's count the scalps: Rather horse-whipped, CBS cowed, National Guard record scandal defused, Kerry campaign maligned, and no Niger forgery exposť on TV. Either Rove is really, really lucky, or he just scored a big one.