Rathergate is a 'sign' of the times

Posted: Sep 23, 2004 12:00 AM

CBS, in rushing to air the now discredited anti-Bush National Guard documents, issued an embarrassing apology.

CBS's Dan Rather, after days of stonewalling and insisting on the accuracy of the "60 Minutes II" piece, now says:

 ...I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find that we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where -- if I knew then what I know now -- I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question. But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry....

The matter grows curiouser and curiouser. Longtime George W. Bush nemesis, retired Texas Army National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, provided "60 Minutes" with the documents. Where did Burkett get them? He initially told CBS and USA Today they came from George Conn, a former Texas National Guard colleague who works for the U.S. Army in Europe. He now says he lied, and that the source is a "Lucy Ramirez." But USA Today says when Burkett arranged a pickup rendezvous with "Lucy Ramirez," a man appeared, handed him an envelope and walked away.

Sounds like a scene from "Get Smart."

Bernard Goldberg, author of the books "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News" and "Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite," spent 28 years at CBS. He called Rathergate "inevitable," a product of liberal groupthink and a predisposition to believe the worst in Republicans.

Well, at least, nobody's been arrested -- so far. Consider the plight of an anti-Bushie from the state of Washington:

Dear Larry,

Last Thursday I put out one of my Bush/Cheney signs in my front yard. Between midnight and 3:00 a.m. someone stole it. On Friday night I put out sign No. 2. Since I didn't have to get up early, I thought my dog and I would "stake out" our sign. This time I put the sign a little closer to the gate leading to my backyard. With my dog on an extra long leash, I planted myself on a lawn chair and read "Unfit for Command" by flashlight until about 1:00 a.m. Here comes the fun part . . . I noticed that the car coming down the street was slowing down and pulling over to the curb right next to my yard. Sure enough, he gets out of his car and heads right for my sign. Just as he was about to uproot and desecrate it, I opened my gate and let my dog make the initial introduction! As he ran to hide behind the rear end of his car, I promptly moved to the driver-side door, which was still open. It was a fairly nice car with power everything and still running. While my dog continued to "introduce" herself, I rolled up the window and hit the power door lock button. With that, I slammed the door, grabbed my Bush sign and headed into the back yard.

And now for the "rest of the story." About 40 minutes later, I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door to one of our city's finest . . . the Vancouver Police Department. The officer asked me what was going on and when I told him, he could not stop laughing! I followed him out to the perp's car and stood there while he asked the guy a few more questions. Upon learning that the guy lived a couple of streets down, I -- knowing what was about to happen -- asked him, "Why do you have Oregon plates on your car if you live just down the street (here in Vancouver, Wash.)?" Larry, Oregon has no sales tax, so often Washington residents will buy and register cars in Oregon to avoid paying sales tax . . . it's a crime and the fine is pretty stiff. Here comes the best part. . . . The look on this guy's face told me he knew he was about to get busted. When the officer asked for his license and registration, the "Democrat" mumbled that (his license) was suspended. Just for kicks and giggles I asked the officer if he smelled any alcohol coming from the guy! The officer looked at me, smiled and promptly gave him a field breathalyzer test. Guess what? You got it, he blew a .10, legally drunk in the state of Washington.

DUI, illegal registration and the brand of "MORON," all 'cause he hates Bush!



Rathergate. A "60 Minutes" producer arranges a call between their document source and a senior Kerry aide. Forty days until election. Can we hold on?