Hit & Run

Let Me Repeat It One More Time

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Describing the reaction at CBS to Louis Boccardi and Dick Thornburgh's report on the discredited 60 Minutes Wednesday story about President Bush's National Guard Service, The New York Times says: "Seeking to cling to a thin reed, several CBS employees said they they took heart that the panel had found that no political bias existed within the ranks of '60 Minutes'--a charge that had been widely repeated on the Internet." This reed is even thinner than the Times makes it seem, since Boccardi and Thornburgh did not exonerate producer Mary Mapes or the other staffers who had a hand in the report of political bias. Insisting on a higher standard of proof than CBS News demands, they simply said "the panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at '60 Minutes' Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing of the segment or its content." But it strains credulity to suggest that anything like this level of carelessness and deception--including a lack of "even the most rudimentary fact-checking" (as the Times puts it) and repeated assertions that the memos supplied by Bill Burkett had been authenticated by experts when they hadn't been--would have been reached if the target had been John Kerry.