Friday, September 10, 2004
The day after: ABC's "Nightline" piece on the forged documents was less than impressive.
The New York Times piece on the story is adequate. Dr. Philip Bouffard, who was also interviewed over at the INDC Journal (link below), is quoted by the Times, but his assessment that there is at least a 90 percent probability that the documents are forgeries is nowhere to be found.
Over at the Washington Post, a more thorough job was done and CBS was allowed to dig itself deeper into a hole.
A senior CBS official, who asked not to be named because CBS managers did not want to go beyond their official statement, named one of the network's sources as retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior of the documents' alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He said a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone and Hodges replied that "these are the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time."
"These documents represent what Killian not only was putting in memoranda, but was telling other people," the CBS News official said. "Journalistically, we've gone several extra miles."
The official said the network regarded Hodges's comments as "the trump card" on the question of authenticity, as he is a Republican who acknowledged that he did not want to hurt Bush. Hodges, who declined to grant an on-camera interview to CBS, did not respond to messages left on his home answering machine in Texas.
This is bad news for CBS News. You can't base the authenticity of the documents on what some guy -- even if he's a Bush supporter -- says that the author told him three decades ago. CBS News' "trump card" wouldn't beat an Ace high.
If CBS thinks that it's gone "several extra miles" above normal journalistic standards, then those standards have fallen so far that the broadcast media is beyond saving.