Saturday, September 25, 2004

No Room for Debate

The New York Times Letters section is the closest the “paper of record” has to a comics page. It’s certainly as amusing and imaginary.

This morning Jonathan Margolis of Boston writes:

The dubious authenticity of the documents that CBS used in reporting on George W. Bush’s National Guard service should not obscure the truly important point in the affair: neither the White House nor the Bush campaign has challenged the essential accuracy of what the network reported, even after CBS issued its apology
Actually, the documents themselves would seem to challenge the essential accuracy of the report. In fact, as Margolis notes, the network itself has apologized for using crudely forged documents to support what, in the absence of manufactured evidence, is an untrue charge.

The rule of thumb here is that it is usually unnecessary to forge documents to support a true statement. Forgeries are most often associated with lies. I could be wrong but I don’t think there are a lot of people out there forging accurate documents to substantiate things that actually happened. I guess I could devote some time to reproducing Margolis’ letter to the Times but what would be the point?

Margolis concludes his missive by writing,

There is no more room for debate on this issue.
Yup, no actual evidence except fake documents and disregard from the White House. I’m convinced. Case closed.

Doesn’t this remind you a bit of that scene in Spinal Tap where, when recalling the death of their drummer, one of the band members says the police declared that this was one mystery that was better left unsolved.

Dan Rather’s reliance on primitively forged documents in his coverage of the 2004 presidential campaign has won over at least one fence-sitter. Says Arlene Williams of Sparks, Nevada:

The CBS memo story has made me more likely to choose Dan Rather for my news.
I suppose there’s something admirable about a person courageous enough to so flatly declare their ignorance in public.

I have to applaud Mr. Rather for sticking his neck out and not backing down until he knew the documents could not be authenticated.
Ms. Williams presumably is looking for a news outlet that will report first and authenticate later so it’s hard not to agree that Dan Rather is her kind of journalist.

Of course, if we could attach magnets to Edward R. Murrow’s cadaver and surround it with copper wire we could generate a fair amount of electrical current right about now.

And what would the Letters page be without a nod to the all powerful, master of both time and space who alone thwarts the inevitable victory of the forces of progress. Charles Herman-Wurmfeld of Los Angeles does the honor:

Karl Rove . . . should be asked some very deliberate questions about possible involvement in this setup.
And while you’re getting to the bottom of how Rove convinced Rather and CBS News to aggressively report a politically damaging story about George Bush and coordinating its attack with the Democrats, you might also ask him how he convinced the DNC to nominate a pompous Boston billionaire as their candidate for president.

But by all means, let’s end debate now.

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