Speaking to a media conference thrown by the financial giant Goldman Sachs last week, CBS boss Les Moonves gave his view from the mountaintop about the Dan Rather forgery scandal and how the network's independent investigation would proceed. "Obviously, it should be done probably after the election is over, so that it doesn't affect what is going on."
What? Dan Rather and CBS try to destroy the Bush campaign with a file of phony military documents, and now they think it would be politically sensitive to release an independent critique of their bias before the election. It is obvious that CBS and Moonves think what Dan Rather attempted to do with the forgeries wasn't intended to influence the election.
What would be the press reaction were President Bush to declare that the release of Charles Duelfer's report on missing stockpiles of WMD in Iraq would have to wait until after the election because of political sensitivity? Dan Rather, for one, would be apoplectic. So why is CBS trying to squelch the release of its own investigation? So it doesn't have to offer some pre-election apology or retraction to George W. Bush.
But there's more to it than that.
If the Kerry campaign was intimately involved in creating, or passing on, or otherwise coordinating the release of the phony documents about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, then voters should know that before they go to the polls. Conversely, if the Kerry campaign had zero involvement with the forgery flap, then the voters should also know that before voting. Absentee voting has already begun in the presidential race, but CBS is trying to hide in a closet with their fingers in their ears.
CBS spokesmen later backtracked for Moonves, insisting that the review panel of former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press executive Louis Boccardi themselves would decide when to release the report. They would hardly be seen as "independent" otherwise.
Sadly, the inquiry is doomed to failure. To get to the bottom of the CBS scandal, the reviewers have to answer four questions. 1. What did CBS do wrong? 2. Who's responsible? 3. Why did CBS get it so wrong? 4. How will CBS correct the problem?
Whatever the reviewers conclude, and however strong and credible their report might be on the first two points, CBS will not want to in any way address questions three or four. They simply won't concede the obvious and only logical answer to the "why" -- blind Bush-loathing bias -- and they will never accept that the only solution to this problem is a complete overhaul of this politically corrupt "news" organization.