Saturday, May 14, 2005

Outright, deliberate distortion by CBS

We all know about Rathergate from last year: Dan Rather ran a story on 60 Minutes II about damning documents pertaining to President Bush's National Air Guard service. As it turned out, the documents were forgeries, something Rather himself apparently did not know.

Now CBS has a brewing scandal which is far, far worse.

In a recent interview (see the first search result) footage aired showing CBS's Gloria Borger asking Ken Starr (the guy who got Clinton impeached) about the Republicans' attempt to end the filibuster. In his answer, Starr said, "This is a radical, radical departure from our history and from our traditions, and it amounts to an assault on the judicial branch of government."

Now, a lot of people were struck by this... it seemed odd, coming from him. So Ramesh Ponnuru of NRO emailed Starr, who replied:

    In the piece that I have now seen, and which I gather is being lavishly quoted, CBS employed two snippets. The 'radical departure' snippet was specifically addressed -- although this is not evidenced whatever from the clip -- to the practice of invoking judicial philosopy as a grounds for voting against a qualified nominee of integrity and experience. I said in sharp language that that practice was wrong. I contrasted the current practice . . . with what occurred during Ruth Ginsburg's nomination process, as numerous Republicans voted (rightly) to confirm a former ACLU staff lawyer. They disagreed with her positions as a lawyer, but they voted (again, rightly) to confirm her. Why? Because elections, like ideas, have consequences. . . . In the interview, I did indeed suggest, and have suggested elsewhere, that caution and prudence be exercised (Burkean that I am) in shifting/modifying rules (that's the second snippet), but I likewise made clear that the 'filibuster' represents an entirely new use (and misuse) of a venerable tradition. . . .

    [O]ur friends are way off base in assuming that the CBS snippets, as used, represent (a) my views, or (b) what I in fact said.

Others have pointed out the significance of this:
    This is worse than Rathergate. Dan really really really wanted to believe the forged documents were real, but there is no evidence he knew from the get-go they were bogus. The distortion of Starr's remarks has to be deliberate.
Liberal media bias? Nah.

(Hat tip: Machos Nachos.)

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