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September 20, 2007


That is the problem with this country that the news media is complisit in propaganda put out by the WH. Seems like we need to overhaul the monopoly laws especially since ma bell merged again and we have the news media owned by a handfull of moguls who pander to the WH.

Rather's complaint paints a picture of a media outlet that willfully allows itself to be the Administration's propaganda tool--but that's clearly not unique to CBS.

Not just ant media outlet, THE TIFFANY NETWORK. If Rather can't make news as a journalist and network anchor, he'll make it news as a plaintiff.

Man, I thought the NY Times sitting on the warrantless wiretapping story was bad. This is sickening. I mean that literally. I feel like throwing up.

I still think Rather got setup with the forged memo on Bush's reserve duty record. Like the "look my political opponent bugged my office" trick one week before the election, the forged Bush AWOL memo served to consolidate the base in a fight against the "dirty tricks liberals". Sadly, it worked.

It only worked in one way...it kept Bush in office and he was "re-elected."

But, most people know that the story was true.

The same 30% that still support this pResident are the same 30% who thinks he served honorably in the TANG, and that don't "believe" in Global warming, don't "believe" in evolution,
think Saddam Hussein planned and helped in the 9-11 attacks, think we found WMD in Iraq, think he was elected fairly in 2000 and think we ought to pre-emtively bomb Iran.

I call them the 30 percenters.

"Media Outlet" is a misnomer.....it's really a Sublet; it owns the forum and is renting it's sound bytes out to the highest bidder.

JohnB - No reason to pull punches and be nice, call them what they really are now. 25 Percenters.

ah, this is excellent.

thanks dan rather.

maybe this will begin the era of stories about how media bosses censored information for the benefit of the bush admin.

as an aside, what do you call it when a plaintiff's lawyer takes the times to make a very interesting and embarrassing (for the defendant) story out of the plaintiff's complaint?

blackmail - no.

greymail - no.

red(-faced)mail - not very good.


The very root of our nation's problems is exhibited here. And network news wonders why ratings are down?

Media corporations need to be free standing operations with no outside ownership.

When are we going to wake up and realize that at the end of the day corporate america is our real enemy?

So much yabbering about the symptoms, no one seems focused on the disease.

We need a fire wall between corporations and government. A free press is just one part of the equation.

Neil, I don't think Rather was set up with the TANG memo. The most damning evidence of forgery has always been the proportional font in the memo and the claim that this couldn't have been produced by word processors of the 70s. That claim was shown to be false shortly after CBS caved and threw Rather to the wolves by an FOI release. Take a look here:


and especially note "Documents Released on September 24, 2004" under "other documents". The memo on page 6 of that pdf uses a proportional font identical to the Rather memo, clearly showing the times-roman trope to be false.

It now looks like CBS brass was probably in collusion with the noise machine to bring Rather down, so he was toast even though he had the real goods.

I think Rather will get his money, the same way Imus got his - Imus could prove that the bosses wanted him to be a racist boor because it got ratings and the suits did not want this to be publicized - his racist diatribes were not a bug, they were a feature. I expect that the discovery process in Rather's suit will establish the same thing, that there is no independent "news" division at CBS, and CBS will not want to disclose that the real editors are at the White House, RNC, and AEI. If Rather is in this for the money, it will settle quickly. He could do a real public service by taking this to trial.

Ishmael, I don't think he's in (just) for the money. There's pride, honor, reputation at stake. And the man is a journalist. He wants this story to see the light of day.

Gary - I agree, and Rather is going to have the full backing of Mark Cuban to do this too. This suit will generate tons of publicity, will poke sticks in the eyes of the broadcast networks, and will be a thorn in the side of the Bushs. All very good things for Mark Cuban.

The complaint's description, quoted above, of events at CBS relative to the Abu Ghraib photos is accurate. Here's some more detail which I think you'll appreciate.

A friend of a friend (F2) was the person at CBS who clicked the mouse and let the Abu Ghraib photos out. F2 told me, to my face, (a) about doing that, (b) about the numerous meetings in which senior managment was tying to tamp down the story, (c) about the more than a few calls from senior government officials (IIRC, not just Myers, but maybe also Rumsfeld), (d) the flood of calls from other media outlets which (1) knew CBS had the Abu Ghraib photos, (2) knew what those photos were, (3) wanted them so they could run with them and (4) were vainly trying to get permission from CBS to run with them but were denied until after CBS ran them first.
The Abu Ghraib story was no secret in the media - it was just that CBS got their hands on the pictures first.

Apparently, it was a very high-stress story in a high stress environment - the news business is (I suppose) pretty much all running around with your hair on fire all the time, but this story was exceptional, not only for the number of meetings but also, apparently, for the number of back-and-forth and, apparently, for the amount of journalistic soul-searching which went on inside CBS. The back and forth of "should we run it" vs. "should we hold it" may never have been more intense.

There are, I was told, a lot of emails in the CBS system (or were) that go through this whole episode. F2 told me that, on the day the photos came out, there were so many into F2's box that F2 stopped opening them, and (IIRC) went with the last one read. That one said it was OK to run the pictures, so that's what F2 did.

That's how the story got out, and how close it came that the Abu Ghraib photos would not have seen the light of day. And, because (IIRC) CBS had subsequently said not to run with them, they got in a real bind with the Admin when the photos did in fact come out and the story ran. I think the Admin thought they had a deal.... So, Rather got it in the neck through a setup on the Bush National Guard story.

F2 asked me, if I thought what went on at Abu Ghraib was a war crime. My response was that we were long past crossing that line.

Scribe - Wow. Excellent. Please buy your friend a couple of drinks from me. My hat is off to F2 for their work here, and to you for letting us know. So, am I reading this correct that you have no question but that the TANG story was a setup to take out Rather?

The Pentagon was ordered to release the second batch of photos that supossedly showed very heinous awful stuff; rape, sodomy of young boys, rape and worse of women and girls associated with suspects, etc...and they never have come out. WTF?? What the hell happened? Do you guys remember that? Maybe two to three years ago???

George senior always hated Dan Rather, that is well known... and Junior is a miserable revengeful fucktard so with the setup you get one bird revenge for two bushes....

I surmise from what I've said in the comment above and what I know (the two are pretty much the same - I've left out irrelevant personal details) that the sequence went something like this:
Admin thinks they have a deal to quash Abu Ghraib story;
Story runs;
Admin pissed;
(here's where the surmising starts)
All sorts of non-public hell breaks loose, probably in Redstone's lap;
Redstone stands up for CBS/Rather publicly, but "gets the message" that the head of someone big has to roll over this for the Admin to be mollified - IIRC, Redstone said he did his campaign contribs for what was good for CBS;
Rove's/GOP's operatives cook up bogus document to back up the (accurate) Bush National Guard story (probably very accurate - I wouldn't be surprised if, rather than shred 43's records, they reside in someone's private file cabinet for handy reference) and the story gets pitched to 60 Minutes;
Rather and the 60 Minutes crew bite on the bait and swallow it whole, not noticing (or not caring) that the document was done on a wordprocessor;
Redstone and CBS can make nice with Republicans by ceremonially axing Rather, and do.

Consider, if you will, that the axing of Dan Rather was just a campaign-contribution-in-kind from CBS to Bush.

FYI: Froomkin today refers to Marcy's Rather post...

Not surprisingly, the coverage of the Rather lawsuit this morning, even on rival networks, was "Why is Dan Rather bringing this all up again, it's been years?"

Do you think its because anyone who expressed sympathy with Rather would have been switched to the local affiliate in Bumfuck, North Dakota?

This is consistenly one of the most informative blogs out there. Thank you, emptywheel, and all the other contributors and regular commenters.

i am a fan of hauling the asses of media corporations up before congress, under oath, and asking them questions related to

their abetting the lies of the bush administration

proactively -

e.g., judy miller's and michael gordon's obliging war stories in the nytimes and the many, many interviews of pumpkin head, tweetie, and wolf blitzer, and the editorial page page of wapoop)


protectively (suppressing info that reflected badly on the bush admin),

e.g., the abu ghraib photos which the rather suit discusses and the nytimes suppression of the admin's spying on americans noted above.

there really must to be a complete public accounting of how the owners, corporate leaders, managing editors, producers, etc, co-operated with the bush admin in ways that allowed it to get away for six long years,

with conduct that has been persistently illegal and way outside the bounds of american political traditions.

i's be especially interested in a congressional review of rupert murdoch's conduct vis-a-vis fox news. i think his behavior warrants revoking his american citizenship and sending him back to australia.

Thanks for sharing that scribe.

Even with just the Rather revelations (about the high up calls to quash) I have to wonder just how it is that Paul Clement manages to say that he had no idea about anything like the Abu Ghraib situation (and Taguba and others say that the MPs were the tip of the iceberg and MI did all this and much more and with knowledge, reports and orders) when he was making his "the US does not torture or do things like torture" argument to the Sup Ct - within hours of the ultimate release of the Pics.

I really have to wonder in my heart of hearts how much those pics did affect the Court's deliberations. And knowing that the the rep of the Executive branch in their court that argued before them pretty much had to know about it or else his client pretty much had to have been involved in an all out fraud on their own lawyer.

While CBS delayed airing the Abu Ghraib photos, then Deputy Solicitor General Paul Clement gave false assurances to the justices of the Supreme Court that they could be confident the executive branch would not torture detainees. In fact, he gave them this assurance in the Hamdi oral argument, earlier in the day on the evening of which CBS finally broadcast the photos.

I believe the failure to fully inform Solicitor General Olson's office what was going on was a lot of the reason why Olson reasoned a month or two later.

Judges hate to be lied to. As someone who once clerked for a federal judge, I've got to believe the Abu Ghraib photos played a large role in Supreme Court deliberations in the Hamdi case.

(Even if Clement was telling them what he believed was the truth, that just means that his superiors had lied by omission to him, and, through him, to the justices.)

Judges hate to be lied to. As someone who once clerked for a federal judge, I've got to believe the Abu Ghraib photos played a large role in Supreme Court deliberations in the Hamdi case.

(Even if Clement was telling them what he believed was the truth, that just means that his superiors had lied by omission to him, and, through him, to the justices.)

Nell, maybe Australia doesn't want Murdoch back. Even at a distance, he still has too much influence (the national right-wing tabloid newspaper network he retains) down here. Plus, Oz is too small a pond for him. So you can keep Prince Rupes, until he finally sells out to the Chinese.

Lysias - two trains, one track.

The truth is, you have to believe that all of DOJ knew he was lying. His Hamdi and Padilla arguments were combined. Heck, anyone with half a thought knew WHY Bush and the Mengeleaning members of his administration wanted Padilla blackholed in the So Car brig. Still. After all the time that had passed by then. It would be intellectually and morally dishonest to pretend there is any other reason to blackhole someone, especially for so long. You do it to torture and abuse. Period.

Luckily, they've helped create a society that doesn't really care anymore. It's all "legal" or else why would the lawyers be allwed to solict and cover it up?

Kruschev never made it to imposing Russian gulags on America, but he wasn't far off when he said, "Russia does not have to destroy America with missles; America will destroy from within."

The "best and brightest" with everything paving their way to be leaders and from them all we see is a need to satisfy Bush's vanity that trumps any revulsion over aiding in the most degrading of criminal acts and their cover up; a Department of Justice that forces on America the outcomes that a fully armed Russia at the height of its powers could not?

I still don't understand it - voluntary employment, not military contracts - and still not one stood up and publically said they would have to resign rather than work for a Dept that promoted and solicited perversions: torture, degredation, mental and physical abuse and sexual humiliation.

Sad doesn't seem a desparing enough enough word for it.

Which makes you wonder what, exactly, it would take for one of these fine DOJ types to resign on the spot and have the courage to say why publicly right then and there? Murder is a threshold that comes to mind; but thats not it because there have been several dead detainees from the "enhanced techniques". This is the "Justice Department"? WTF happened to our country?

Mary Says, "I still don't understand it - voluntary employment, not military contracts - and still not one stood up and publically said they would have to resign rather than work for a Dept that promoted and solicited perversions: torture, degredation, mental and physical abuse and sexual humiliation."

Sad doesn't seem a desparing enough enough word for it."

Mary -- what everyone is missing is that these guys have actually seriously read much of the research as to how the Nazi's got people to violate deeply embedded norms of conscience.

It is fairly easy. You get someone to accept doing a little "thing" first, organizing their mental process so as to deny, and then you move them to the next, and then the next step. It is how you destroy the root conscience in those you employ to do the dirty work.

The worst part of this is that they made a bastard of years of historical and psychological research about "How they did it" which was intended not as a manual of how to do it, but instead a warning about how industrial scale killing got accomplished.

I read a good but rather sickening spy thriller whose protagonist was an ex government contract killer. The book talks in detail about the process of "subornation", where the morals are stripped from someone layer by layer.
I also think these jerks have studied Hitler and Stalin to see where those "heroes" went wrong. There's one other perverse aspect of this administration that I have not seen discussed much: it's use of disinformation tactics, as if their own country was a battlefield. Think back: even from the very beginning of this administration, there have often been announcements or leaks that came from one source, only to be contradicted or corrected a short time later. This has happened with such frequency that I conclude it is a deliberate attempt to keep the political opposition off balance. This is just one aspect of the disinformation strategy. I certainly don't claim to understand all of it.

bmaz @ 11:25

When I was 10 or 11 or thereabouts, I had discovered the holocaust in books I found in our bookshelves at home. I was sure these books weren't true, that an entire nation couldn't be fooled that easily, that so many people could be horribly cruel and uncaring. So I asked my dad. He told me he believed that 20%, more or less, of every sufficiently large population was crazy and could be convinced of anything if adequately frightened. Over the past 40 years, I've recalled his theory when I read or heard of some sundry political malfeasance. Strangely, the recollection comforted me. To me, the remaining 80% were rational and enough would eventually come to their collective senses to create change in our free democracy so, no prob.

Tonight was the first time my own fear lifted its ugly head. Tonight I realized that the “25% Percenters” are the same 20% (more-or-less) that Daddy was describing. The crazies are in power and our government and the MSM have given it to them by endulging the worst angels of their nature.


Tonight, EW’s article smacked my gob - Rather’s choice to tell his truth through the legal system and not through MSM, his profession of over 40 years, has stunned me. Mapes wrote a book. He didn’t, although he’s probably working on one. But he didn’t “break the story” through a book, promotion of which would require “the media”. As Neil points out, he's making news as a plaintiff.

How frightening and depressing. And tiring. I gotta go to bed.

Just a heads-up and further congratulations to you: Greg Sargent is a day and a half behind you in discovering the suppression-of-Abu-Ghraib story within the Rather suit.

FWIW, what I came to believe on TANG:

1. Let's remember that the TANG story made it all the way from an obscure blogger (one "Buckhead," who turned out to be a Federalist Society member and voting machine expert (!!) from Atlanta) to FOX news in a single news cycle. That stinks of yet another orchestrated disinformation campaign, to me.

2. I never bought into the "word processing" theory at the time because, back in the early 70s, I myself owned an IBM typewriter that justified type and had serifed fonts. And all the "experts" who testified against the authenticity of the memo had never physically examined it, which is a violation of professional ethics for graphologists. (Not to excuse CBS for only verifying the signature, even though the memo itself was a multi-generation xerox.) Finally, IRRC, the memos had a ragged baseline with letters out of alignment, much more characteristic of produced by mechanical means rather than by a digital system like a word processor (see below). Sure, anything can be PhotoShopped, but the wingers didn't frame the argument that way, and in any case only physical examination of the documents could resolve that. (That we were arguing about fake documents using online reproductions that could, themselves, be faked, merely added to the surreality of the episode.)

3. Nobody disputed the underlying facts in the Killian memos that Rather went with. In fact, the secretary on the base at the time, when interviewed, didn't remember the memo, but vouched for the accuracy of the memo's content. And there is plenty of other evidence that Bush didn't complete his service, must obviously that nobody ever came forward to claim the $10,000 reward that Gary Trudeau offered for a witness who saw him do it.

4. The real tragedy is that Rather went with Killian, an impeachable witness, instead of connecting to Paul Lukasiak of the blogosphere, who did serious work with the TANG payroll records (below), which showed, using evidence that was in now way controvertible, that Bush was paid for TANG work that he didn't perform.

What this post adds is:

5. The reason that internal corporate politics at CBS would work to take Rather down.

As regards the authenticity of the memos themselves. I'm left with two possibilities:

A. The memos were authentic in both content and medium (see above comment on serifs), but that corporate politics and the compressed time frame imposed by the winger assault prevented that from happening. (They "hung tough" for two weeks, but IIRC made no further examinations of the memos. That sounds like corporate politics to me; the denial of resources.)

B. The memos were authentic in content, but not in medium. This would be a classic Rovian bankshot of deliberately planting TRUE information in a form that could be discredited.

Link to summing up, with mechanical means analysis


Link to Lukasiak's payroll records work:


Various links on the story as it unfolded:


Given that the rest of Rather's claims are exaggerated,
false and flat-out delusional, what reason is there for
placing any credibility in these other claims? Apart
from a wish that they be true?

Ah, the reality-based community. How's Jesse Macbeth

"1. Let's remember that the TANG story made it all the way from an obscure blogger (one "Buckhead," who turned out to be a Federalist Society member and voting machine expert (!!) from Atlanta) to FOX news in a single news cycle. That stinks of yet another orchestrated disinformation campaign, to me."

'Buckhead' was one Hans Von Spakovsky, GOP lawyer and preppy riot organiser, most recently of the corrupted USDOJ Civil Rights division and Attorneygate.

Different slice of the cheese, same weevils.

Dan Rather is a great American and a great journalist.

What he faced back in 2004 and still faces today (as we all do) is what amounts to an organized crime family, a criminal gang operating out of the White House, with top people in the MSM and even in the Bush-packed federal judiciary, running interference for this Republican, corporatist criminal enterprise.

Dan Rather faces an uphill battle in bringing all these Republican outlaws to justice. He has the facts on his side. But Valerie Plame Wilson, the criminally outed covert CIA agent, also had the facts on her side, and look at what happened to her lawsuit against the criminals in the Bush administration.

Both Dan Rather and Valerie Plame Wilson are profiles in courage, exceptional American citizens, true red white and blue patriots, who are faced with the daunting task of bringing light and truth into the gathering conservative darkness that has enveloped our beloved democracy, a darkness that has not only completely corrupted the executive branch under the evil machinations of the Bush crime family, but has also perverted our nation's Fourth Estate...and placed our nation and our nation's children in extreme peril.

Impeach Bush and Cheney NOW. And fire all the MSM corporate heads who've decided that profits are more important than our democracy and our right as U.S. citizens to know the truth, because only The Truth can set (and keep) one free.


I believe Buckhead was one Harry MacDougald (not Hans Von Spakovsky); unless he's lying, of course.


Sorry, emptywheel, didn't mean to hijack the thread, if that's what I did. I saw the corporate politics angle, not the morality of it.

Knowing a little bit about the corporate scumbags who now run CBS News, the only thing that surprises me is that they were finally prodded into running the Abu Ghraib story by the fear that they might lose their scoop. Five years from now, they won't have to worry about it, because by then none off the other "liberal" media will be willing to touch stories like that either.

And the hiring of Katie Couric is a surprise.....WHY?

IMHO Rather is the real deal. Through a Drudge (of all people) link I heard a speech a few years back, given in England, where he blasted the US press for aiding in the creation of a totalitarian state. The Xtian right has been after Rather for more than 30 years. I distinctly remember that Pat Robertson wanted to buy CBS so he could fire Rather; this was in the late '70s. I don't think Rather needs the money. His career was fostered and blessed by Kronkite, and I think his revenge will prove to be well planned and effective. And not necessaritly a revenge on CBS, but on the entire MSM.

"Nothing to see here, folks., Nothing to see..."
Media manipulation?
Outright lies?

If this is news to anyone, you're either stupid, or you've been in the cave with OBL too long.

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Excellent article and commentary!

Great blog with lots of useful information and excellent commentary!

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