Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Re-writing a wrong

Malcolm contends that anyone with even half-an-interest in US politics needs the daily feed from At worst (which is not infrequent) it is a recital of the miscalls and misdemeanors of the US media Right. At best it can be dynamite.

Today there is an example of the latter: a re-appraisal (by Eric Boehlert, who has a useful track record on this one) of the Dan Rather Memogate/Rathergate affair.

Cis-Atlanteans may need a reminder here. As the 2004 Presidential Election campaign proper was getting under way, on 8th September CBS aired 60 Minutes Wednesday, a regular news and features programme with a venerable history. The producers had received documents which apparently showed George W Bush had defaulted on his service with the Texas National Guard (since this was 1968, it was itself a cop-out from serving in Vietnam). The material showed Bush was declared unfit for duty and put on suspension. A fortnight after broadcasting these and similar allegations, CBS withdrew the claims, apologised, fired the producer (Mary Mapes, who has just posted her version on huffingtonpost) and shortly afterwards Rather retired, or was forced to do so.

Rather has now issued a writ against CBS for damages.

Ever since, whenever the incident has been mentioned, the media have been anxious to make clear that the claims in the so-called Killian documents were disproved. There has been some mockery of Rather for his action against CBS.

Boehlert is now re-opening the original story, reviewing Bush's record with the National Guard:
Using Bush's own military records, I'll list 10 glaring discrepancies regarding his fraudulent military service, none of which is based on the disputed memos that were aired by CBS News in 2004.
Many of those "discrepancies" seem to rely on missing paperwork, or instructions given to other agencies in the military which went unregarded: all coincidentally working in favour of Bush.

Here's Boehlert's accusation:
In spring 1972, after receiving $1 million worth of taxpayer-funded flight training, Bush unilaterally decided he was going to stop flying and attempted to transfer from his Houston base to a non-flying, paper-pushing postal unit in Alabama. The request was denied. While Bush searched for a new unit, he took the summer off, never bothering to show up for his mandatory monthly drills. Bush was eventually ordered to report to a flying unit in Montgomery, Alabama. There is no evidence Bush ever showed up there, which means he missed more weekend training sessions. In July of that summer, Bush also failed to take his mandatory annual physical and was grounded by the Guard. In 1973 Bush was supposed to return to his base in Houston but again he was a no-show; his commanders in May 1973 claimed they had no idea where he was. Then between the summer of 1973 to the time he was discharged in 1974, there's little evidence that Bush ever attended training sessions, which means for nearly two years Bush snubbed his Guard duty.
Bush has precious little reputation left to tarnish, personally or politically. There is another issue: the Rovian manufacture of George W. Bush as a credible candidate for public office, following a very chequered early life, is one of the great confidence tricks (some might say, dirty tricks) of all time. There is now a mission for and its like to ensure that the public are not misled, duped, lied to and finagled by the Right again. Sphere: Related Content

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