Kerry Spot [ jim geraghty reporting ]
A COMMUNIQUE TO THE PAJAMAHADEEN [09/22 11:22 AM]
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To: The Pajamahadeen
From: Jim Geraghty
Re: The state of our struggle
The Pajamahadeen have accomplished much, but there is still much to be done before we complete the toppling of the Sauronic Big Eye of CBS.
Do not be swayed by the recent heady wave of blogger triumphalism. Dan Rather's "apology" was nothing. It was eleven days late and truly written in the evasive, illusory style of Grima Wormtongue. Killian's son and widow are merely two of many who deserve a specific apology. As we advance, remember that Rather and his minions like John Roberts contended for many days that there was "no concrete evidence" that the documents were fake long after we had raised dozens of reasons to doubt the memos. He dismissed us we, the outraged news consumers of the Left, Right, and center as insignificant "partisan political operatives."
Even Tuesday, Rather insisted the memos were not forged. He is out of touch with the facts on the ground.
Now the suits at CBS believe they can appease our anger with this "investigation." A stalling tactic. When it recommends the dismissal of CBS News President Andrew Heyward, 60 Minutes II producer Josh Howard, segment producer Mary Mapes, and anchor Dan Rather, we will take it seriously.
Before we continue, a word about memo source Bill Burkett's discussion with Kerry campaign adviser Joe Lockhart (and Max Cleland, and Howard Dean, apparently). We will see where the memo came from. Perhaps it originated with the DNC or Texans for Truth. Whoever it was, they did a poor job. That will come out in the end.
While that mystery is being unraveled, we must not let CBS escape our righteous wrath.
Many of us have contacted local CBS affiliates, and many of them have publicly talked about the intense pressure they feel from our forces. This is good. Now our tactics must shift.
For the "good" affiliates, the ones who have written regretful and appropriate responses to viewers' e-mails, we are regretful. We have no choice but to conclude that these affiliates' have made appropriate efforts that have garnered no real results. There is not much point in watching a channel where the network executives are arrogant and the affiliates are voiceless.
For the "bad" affiliates, who have ignored the first round of e-mails, our tone must be clear about the consequences. Viewership will cease. Local advertisers will be contacted, and complaints about their choice in advertising venues will be registered. We will deride, mock, and insult them to our friends and neighbors. Their company's reputation will be akin to Hustler magazine, the Union Carbide corporation, the Saudi Royal Family, or Halliburton whichever villain you choose.
In both cases, we must be specific. We must point out that we will no longer be watching CBS national and local programming. The local affiliate heads must know exactly which programs we will be dropping for good which news, sports, sitcoms, dramas, etc. It is unfortunate that the cast of CSI: Dubuque must suffer for the treachery of Rather and his team, but the network brought it upon itself by digging in its heels.
CBS critics need to focus our rhetorical firepower even more specifically. We must focus the blame on two men: Mike Wallace and Don Hewitt.
I hear your murmurs of confusion. Hewitt, the creator of 60 Minutes, and Wallace, one of its most venerable reporters, are not responsible for Dan Rather's reckless hatchet job on 60 Minutes II.
But they have had 13 days to react to this story, and Hewitt has not said a word. Eighty-six-year-old Wallace is capable of rage against inspectors from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, but he cannot bring himself to call for his colleague to step down for the good of the institution of CBS News.
And make no mistake were either of these men to call for Rather's resignation, our struggle would end. (They would also be heroes to the other CBS employees.)
Their silence has been cowardly. And now we must put forth the clear lesson from this: Dan Rather's methods are no different from the rest of CBS and 60 Minutes.
If this were that much of a lapse of CBS standards that different from the way they do all their stories there would have been a much sterner reaction from both Rather's employers and colleagues. No, this is probably not the first time CBS reporters have used dubious sources, or deliberately ignored evidence, or hidden dissenting opinions of experts. This is probably just the first time they got caught.
These two men Wallace and Hewitt must see their lifetimes of effort in the journalism profession being dragged down with Rather. Anonymous quotes to the New York Times won't cut it. A long, regretful op-ed a few weeks from now will be insufficient. Wallace, Hewitt: Take on Rather the way your biographies claim you took on powerful interests in the past, or we of the pajamas will conclude your courage and integrity are empty shells of what they once were.
We must also repeatedly hammer away at the reputations of the Tim Russerts and Tom Brokaws and Wolf Blitzers. Apparently, their standards aren't all that different from Rather's, or else they would have objected quicker, louder, and more publicly. The other networks and major newspapers have generated so far mostly gentle rebukes. No major newspaper has called for Rather's resignation. None calls them out as fools and mendacious mercenaries for having the audacity to call Bill Burkett an "unimpeachable source." In retrospect, all that phrase told us was that CBS had not received the memos from Bill Clinton.
From his comments before and after his "apology" a thin gruel of legalistic weasel words that stretches the definition of that word Rather has made clear he believes that those clad in pajamas and typing on computers are in no position to judge him. Our role, in his vision, is to passively imbibe his disinformative propaganda the way geese receive cornmeal to make fois grae. He sits behind his anchor desk, confident that his status is impenetrable and that any attack made by the Pajamahadeen against his position would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical errors we may have proved. He steadfastly believes that CBS television stations remain the ultimate persuasive power in the news universe, and he intends to use it.
But Rather should not be too proud of this technological agitprop dispersal system he's constructed. The power to hype a fake memo is insignificant compared to the power of the blogosphere.