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On September 8, 2004 60 Minutes hosted by CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather aired a show questioning President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. Rather interviewed Ben Barnes a former Texas House Speaker and Lt. Governor who testified that George W. Bush received special treatment by being admitted in to the Texas National Guard to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War. Barnes a Democrat who was an active supporter in the Kerry campaign said Sid Adger a close friend to the Bush family asked him if he would recommend young George Bush to the Aired National Guard in order to prevent him from being shipped overseas. Barnes believed his actions were of preferential treatment because there was a list of hundreds of names who wanted to enter the Air National Guard.
Dan Rather claimed following the Barnes interview that 60 Minutes had obtained a number of documents from Col. Jerry Killian who was commander at Texas Air National Guard during Bush’s tenure. One of the documents was from May 1972, where Killian wrote that Lt. Bush had asked him if he can get out of coming to drills from May through November in order to work on his campaign in Alabama. The memo also stated that Bush said he may not have time to take his physical. In a memo from August 18, 1973, Col Killian wrote that Col. Buck Staudt, the man running the Texas Air National Guard was pressuring him to “Sugar Coat” the evaluation of Lt. Bush. The document that brought up the most controversy was a memo written by Col. Killian put in his own personal files stating that Bush was failing to perform to U.S. Air Force and Texas Air National Guard standards. Since Killian died in 1984, 60 Minutes hired a team of individuals with expertise in handwriting analyst and document authentication claimed the memorandums were authentic.
Immediately following the 60 Minutes episode aired on September 8, 2004, the documents used for the program became under heavy scrutiny. The information from the documents used by 60 Minutes did not comply with the military records of Texas Air National Guard. For instance, the official record of the Air National Guard shows that Mr. Bush was suspended from flying on Aug. 1, 1972. That date contrast to a memo given to CBS News, ordering that Mr. Bush be suspended on Aug.
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Following the testimony of Marion Carr Know the secretary of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian she confirmed she did not type the memos regarding President Bush’s failure to fulfill the responsibilities of the Air National Guard. Along with the testimony of Bill Burkett, a retired lieutenant colonel of the National Guard who supplied the documents admitted he deliberately misled CBS News and 60 Minutes by giving false account of the documents’ origin. Two weeks after the controversial 60 Minutes episode aired Dan Rather admitted the documents’ authentication can not be proven.
In addition to the false documents Senior White House Correspondent John Roberts added that there was not truth or evidence that President Bush received preferential treatment to enroll in the Texas Air National Guard. Roberts spoke out to say that this is the same recycled garbage by the Democrats used against Bush every time he runs for re-election.
Media biases in the news have become an unwanted and unpopular aspect in broadcasting. News reporting shows carry an underlying slant in journalism in attempt to change to mood of the country. Republicans have spoken out about the liberal media in attempt to ratify change. In the United States, of the four major entertainment networks (Foxs, NBC, ABC and CBS) three are consider being liberal media outlets. The one company of the quartet to report on a conservative view is the Foxs network. Between Peter Jennings for ABC, Tom Brokaw for NBC, and Dan Rather for CBS of the three, Rather has gone through the most criticism for his bias liberal slant on the news.
Dan Rather has become a lighting rod for strife with his colorful language to compliment his witty and sharp tongue. Over the years Rather has evolved in to a target for Republicans with his clashes against conservative politicians. In 1974 at the height of the Watergate scandal, Rather asked a question towards President Nixon at the National Association of Broadcasters convention. In his quick reply Nixon said “Are you running for anything?” Rather shot back, “No, Mr. President are you?” In 1988 Mr. Bush Sr. the Vice President under Reagan agreed to do an interview with Rather to discuss his aspirations to run for president. Vice President Bush became heated during the interview because Rather was asking questions about the Iran-contra scandal and not about his future goals to become president. Mr. Bush claimed he was tricked in to accepting to do the interview under false pretences. Dan Rather took a lot of heat from Republicans when he was spotted at a Democratic fundraiser in Texas supporting his daughter. As a key news figure for the country his lack of objectiveness in reporting news has been felt by the American people.
Dan Rather addressed the charges of his liberal slant in the media and his feeling in reporting news saying he is not politically inclined, except that he loves to report on politics. An internet website has been created by the Media Research Center to voices its opinions of disproval about Rather’s role in the media on “Ratherbiased.com. The website is devoted to exploit Dan Rather’s lack of neutrality in reporting news. Dan Rather’s remarkable resume’ as a professional journalist for the last 35 years has become tarnished in the final leg of his career.
The mood of the American people voiced out in disgrace in the poor integrity of the media. In an editorial by The Detroit News on the CBS documents a reporter wrote: “When the media outlet hollers ‘gotcha!’ as CBS did with President Bush, it had better know exactly what it’s got or it will pay the price.” In another editorial from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer a reporter declared “It seems like poetic justice that the discredit has fallen on those who tried to discredit [President Bush and John Kerry on their military history.] Conservative activist Bill Bennett voiced his disapproval on his radio show, said that “bias isn’t the point. This is corruption. Corruption is when you don’t adhere to a basic fundamental standard.” CBS News, 60 Minutes and Dan Rather all took a big hit by the other media outlets questioning the credibility. This severe accident by the CBS trying to discredit a republican politician will reap heavy consequences to the network and other liberal news outlets. This story echoes a theme in the media of liberal biases trying to swing the mood of the country against conservatives.