CBS announced this week it had named Richard Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi to head a panel to investigate what went wrong with the now notorious Sixty Minutes broadcast. Fake memos and the testimony of a Kerry fundraiser with a dubious background (and a constantly changing story) were paired, to create a didn't—pass—the—laugh—test story, falsely attacking the President's service record just weeks before the election.
I have no doubt that these two have a good idea of what they want to investigate. But there is something, perhaps less immediately obvious, but very clear to me, which I hope they put on their docket.
Going back over the public record, the very first published reference I could find to the (fake) memos was on the website of lefty partisan Josh Marshall. On September 7, he posted this preview of the upcoming Sixty Minutes piece on his website:
The big news won't be how Bush got into the Guard, but how he blew off his duties once he got there. Again, new documents stuff that is clear and straightforward and apparently puts beyond any debate or doubt that the now—President blew off the duties that he said, as recently as this year, that he had fulfilled.
Hilarious in retrospect, but suspicious. Marshall obviously had an inside scoop, it appears. Even his colleague at Slate, Mickey Kaus, has referred to Marshall as a 'puppet' of the notorious Sidney Blumenthal, the Clintonista long considered — and not without warrant — the architect of the most vicious smears against his opponents.
Since Blumenthal's post—Sixty Minutes story Now it's Bush's turn to Squirm appeared in the Guardian on September 9, (no mean feat considering the nine hour time difference to London, where it was published), my curiosity was definitely whetted. Could there possibly a vast left wing conspiracy at work?
And it didn't take long to figure out how Marshall and Blumenthal jumped the gun on the Sixty Minutes story.
Newsweek's Isikoff and Hosenball (inadvertently perhaps) dropped the smoking gun. Marshall, it seems, was working on yet another phony story with CBS's Mapes, at the very same time she was cobbling together the TANG story that dropped Sixty Minutes into a sea of trouble.
In what was supposed to be an ironic piece, Newsweek's myopic duo revealed that Mapes and Marshall were collaborating on a story every bit as bogus as the TANG one. The new 'scoop' purported to show that Bush relied on forged documents to 'lead the country to war.'
Bear with me, please. Since the Forces of Idiocy so persistently try to pass off dead ducks as living, we have to reach into the freezer to show you again: this is a dead duck.
In his State of the Union speech, the President said these sixteen words:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
The statement was true, and recently a British Commission confirmed that was so. Days afterward, however, the US received forged documents about uranium sales from Africa to Saddam. (Documents, I should add that an Italian inquiry established were forged by a man working for French intelligence — apparently to discredit the good information upon which Bush and Blair had relied, and thereby to embarrass them.)
And was this French farce forgery used for that purpose? Indeed it was. By Joseph A. Wilson (author of Politics of Truth), then an outspoken Kerry supporter and advisor. And where is Wilson today? Well, he has been thoroughly discredited by anyone who actually studied his testimony before the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee. That includes the Committee and the brilliant Christopher Hitchens.
How could CBS have missed that? After all, once the Senate Intel report came out, the Kerry website was scrubbed of the special page devoted to Wilson.
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post did report that the very media (including, of course, CBS) which had given enormous play to Wilson's tale had failed to report his denouement. So if all the news Sixty Minutes got was from CBS, maybe they missed it.
Still, how clueless can you be?
As Messrs. Thornburg and Boccardi do their work, they need to figure out why on earth this canard had been fished out of the freezer and tarted up by Mapes and Blumenthal's buddy Josh Marshall. How could a 'news' organization waste its resources on such a valueless pursuit? What agendas were at work? Who was talking to whom? About what?
If these questions remain unasked and unanswered, they may be missing something very significant.