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Friday, January 07, 2005

Victim or Perpetrator? About the CBS Rathergate Report

Lots of commentary today in the Blogosphere about that upcoming Thornburgh/Boccardi report for CBS on Rathergate. Frankly, I've never expected the report to be of much value for the simple reason that it was commissioned by the very people whose actions are under review. Sort of like a defendant being allowed to select the witnesses who testify against him in court.

The best analysis I've seen is that of Powerline's Hindrocket, who among much else offers this trenchant observation:

"The fundamental question here is whether CBS was the victim of a hoax, or the perpetrator of a hoax. It has been our view for a long time that Rather and his colleagues were perpetrators, not victims, in part because the documents were such obvious fakes that it strains credulity to suppose that they were actually fooled. When you read the Thornburgh/Boccardi report, keep that question constantly in mind: victim, or perpetrator?"

Excellent advice. You should read the entire post in which that advice is contained, if you haven't already. Just click on the headline above this post to go to Powerline.

Also worth reading is Hugh Hewitt's memo earlier this week to CBS, the last line of which ought to be (but probably isn't) burned into the newsroom culture throughout the MSM by now:

"Release a draft of the Rathergate report to a half-dozen bloggers for pre-publication comment (on the condition that they not comment on the report until it is released. The right list will produce honorable people who will abide by the embargo.) At a minimum, run any paragraph mentioning a blogger past that blogger for vetting.
"Receive their comments and publish them along with the report, along with responses. Don't pretend that the bloggers that humbled Rather and CBS don't exist.
"The new medium brought you low. Try to figure out how to at least engage it. Be sure as well to e-mail the report to every major blogger the moment of its release, and to make it available on the web, and not just in PDF format.
"This will be among the most scrutinized documents ever. Don't expect any error to be overlooked."

More useful insight from Scylla & Charybdis on some of the legal implications that may stem from the report. And lots of good stuff at RatherBiased.com, too, as you would expect.