Saturday, September 11, 2004

And That's The Way It Isn't

If you traveled in certain circles on the East Coast this past summer, the one story you heard over and over again was that Ben Barnes had the goods on George W. Bush's National Guard record and that CBS News was going to break the story on "60 Minutes." I must have heard this story four or five times, including once from an investment banker who claimed to have heard it from Barnes himself.

It is well known in Texas that Ben Barnes is not a guy you'd want to hang a story on, so to speak. And now it is well known that the CBS News piece that appeared on "60 Minutes" is based on fraudulent documents and patently false information. CBS News will have to disown this story soon because it just ain't true.

As, indeed, others are doing. The new tack is that Karl Rove created these forgeries; or less specifically, that they are a GOP dirty trick. Dan's a victim here, goes the new refrain. Among those offering this view is the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. It's interesting to note that he spends most of his time denying that the Kerry campaign or the DNC or any of its affiliates had anything to do with the story.

Of course they did. Ben Barnes is a Kerry fund-raiser in Texas. Leading Democratic operatives had foreknowledge of this story as early as July and were telling friends (and even foes) about it back then. The notion that Karl Rove or Andy Card or Mary Matalin would forge National Guard documents, then secretly have them delivered to Ben Barnes so that he would then take them to Dan Rather so that "60 Minutes" would then do a piece that said that the President of the United States was a slacker who shirked his duty is......(how do I put this?)...... utterly deranged. And everyone knows it.

What we are looking at is a scandal, an attempt by the Democratic Party and a number of its news media megaphones to smear the President of the United States. This is potentially a big scandal; one that might do real damage to the Kerry campaign and cost Dan Rather and his producer their jobs.

But I doubt very seriously that Big Media will devote much, if any, energy to this story. They don't want to hurt Kerry and they really don't want to do anything that would damage CBS News. And they certainly don't want to help Bush in any way, shape or form.

Whether Big Media can make this story disappear is a challenge that the blogosphere will take up with gusto. I'm betting on the bloggers.