MEDIA; History of Error

Article excerpt

There are only two possible explanations for the CBS debacle. Either Dan Rather acted irresponsibly but was bamboozled or he knowingly used false documents.

Yet, out on the left fringe, a third explanation is offered for why the network attacked the president with forged documents.

Halliburton!

Well, almost. One Michael Moore-style conspiracy theory being floated is that Republicans somehow are to blame.

Whether the documents came from the Democrat National Committee, George Soros or Karl Rove, CBS should have checked its facts. "If your mother tells you something, check it out" is an admonition from Journalism 101. Get it first, but first get it right.

Even if true, it would not excuse CBS. Rather and CBS ignored clear warnings and rushed to the camera to attack Bush. There is no question that was an attack, incidentally, because Rather labeled the reaction "a counterattack."

In 1988, Rather put on six "Vietnam combat veterans" who told about horrifying atrocities they claimed they had committed. This fit the company line established by Rather's predecessor, Walter Cronkite.

Then, someone checked the facts, according to Anne Morse of NRO. Only one of the six had even served in combat, he learned.

Every media organization errs.

Most correct errors to protect credibility. …