Monday, September 20, 2004

The "Apology"

Here is the text of Dan Rather's statement on the Texas memo flap. I think it deserves a bit of parsing.
Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents

They weren't just "questions" about authenticity, they were definitive statements by expert after expert that your documents were completely fake, from the address through the signature line.
used in support of a "60 Minutes Wednesday" story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question-and their source-vigorously.

Vigorously? So it took you 5 days to figure out what professional document analysts told you BEFORE you ran with the story? And what even amateur, pajama-wearing bloggers figured out within hours of simply looking at the documents? The last time you did something this vigorously, you were investigating questions about John Kerry's Vietnam record...wait a second....
And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Again, aren't you just a little late to be telling the American public what we've known for nearly a week?
Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically.

So how WOULD you vouch for fake documents? Maybe you have the confidence in the documents to vouch for them artistically? The fakery-as-art argument works for Michael Moore, after all.
I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers.

Let me get this straight, you weren't misled about the authenticity of the documents themselves, just how Bill Burkett got them? I can see this being accurate, if Clintonesque: "Sorry Dan, I told you I got these documents from Killian's wastebasket, but what I meant to say was, I got them from my printer after I typed them up in MS Word. My bad! Sorry to mislead you about where I got these documents!"
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.

You're starting to sound like John Kerry describing his Iraq policy, but that's not surprising. You've been carrying water for him so long that you must have picked up on his "nuance."
But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Edward R. Murrow would probably add that investigative reporting should also be carried on without fabrication, but maybe I'm assuming too much. And if anyone out there believes the line about reporting without favoritism, then please email me, I have a bridge that might interest you.
Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.

And defeating George W. Bush this November, that's important too.