Jonathan Last is calling the report on the CBS faked memos a “whitewash”. I’m not so sure I’d go that far, but it is disappointing. Mapes is essentially the fall girl for the rest of the CBS higher-ups including Dan Rather and the report tries to downplay the obvious political connections here. The report very clearly goes into the hows of the scandal, but it avoids answering the obvious questions of why.
It’s quite obvious that the CBS News team did not want George W. Bush to be reelected. Dan Rather is and always has been a Democratic partisan with an axe to grind. Mary Mapes spend five years chasing a story that George magazine had debunked thoroughly in 2000. The contacts been Burkett, CBS, and the Kerry campaign were hardly touched in the investigation. Those issues are extremely serious and the report’s failure to address them is a significant ommission.
Despite CBS’ continued unwillingness to face the truth, I don’t see how they can avoid facing the music. Viewership is down dramatically and this blow to their credibility doesn’t help in the slightest. Not only did the faked documents not hurt Bush, they created a massive backlash against both CBS and Kerry — then again, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group.