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In Fact... | The Nation

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In Fact...

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CAN CBS EVER BE SORRY ENOUGH?

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**Let's see if we understand how our deregulated, free-enterprise media system works: In the heat of the election 60 Minutes Wednesday went with a story alleging that when he was a lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s, George W. Bush received preferential treatment. The proof: memorandums purportedly from the files of his commander, Lieut. Col. Jerry Killian, showing young Bush's demands for special treatment. Then the rains came: Some bloggers said that the documents were forged, Dan Rather & Co. said they weren't, Killian's secretary Marian Carr Knox said (a) that they do not look like documents that she typed, but (b) their content was consistent with other things her boss said at the time. As a result of the criticism, CBS appointed a blue-ribbon commission headed by a former US Attorney General and the former CEO of The Associated Press to determine the facts. The commission found problems with the way 60 Minutes Wednesday went about its work, and the obstinacy with which Rather & Co. defended their integrity. But it said it was "not able to reach a definitive conclusion as to the authenticity of the Killian documents" and that it found no evidence of political bias. For this, four top CBS employees were fired. Query: If the commission had determined the documents were forged and that Rather & Co. were politically biased, what would CBS have done? Make CBS News president Andrew Heyward watch sixty hours of Bill O'Reilly? Hire Ann Coulter as Dan Rather's personal political trainer? Send Rather's production team to Rush Limbaugh for sensitivity training?

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