Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Friday, January 14, 2005

What liberal bias? -- this one!

Joe Conason, writing for Salon, demonstrates why the liberal media bias is unlikely to be affected by the CBS scandal or likely anything less than the loss of the audiences that support them.

"Thornburgh's admirers cherished high hopes for the CBS investigation, which mostly turned out to be quite unrealistic. They wanted him to reveal that the whole Bush National Guard controversy was just a Democratic dirty trick. (It wasn't.) They wanted him to assert that the president fulfilled his military obligations without receiving any preferential treatment. (Bush didn't.) They wanted him to prove that the questioned Guard documents were forgeries. (He couldn't.)
Worst of all, after four months of investigation, Thornburgh couldn't even sustain the moldy clich about liberal bias. Among conservatives who cannot question their own outdated assumptions, that outcome stimulates the darkest paranoia: Good old Dick Thornburgh must have joined the liberal media conspiracy, too. "

Conason, of course, is quite happy with the CBS review panel's use of metaphysical certainty as the criterion to determine both the validity of the forged documents and the liberal bias at CBS. Using the metaphysical certainly criterion applied by the panel in these two areas, there are very few conclusions that could be drawn about anything. Few criminal convictions, for example, could be sustained under such a standard since there is almost always some minimal probability that the crime could have been committed by another party (even if there is a confession in hand!). DNA evidence would be worthless as the best DNA results are have a error rate of one in a billion or so which would certainly not be acceptable to the CBS panel.

While the forged documents have only been reproduced accurately using present day technology with certain specific technical characteristics (such as font pseudo-kerning) that were simply not available in the early 1970s, it can never be ruled out with metaphysical certainly that some unknown piece of equipment existed in the Texas Air National Guard office that somehow exactly reproduced what can today only be done with Microsoft Word and computer fonts.

As far as liberal bias, the panel reports provides an extraordinary trove of detail of how liberal bias operates in practice. Anyone who expected some sort of "smoking gun" to be produced is naive. But look at the extraordinary resources and effort that CBS invested in a story whose only intent was to damage the President. And remember that George Bush did receive an honorable discharge and it is available in the public records. As regards John Kerry, however, CBS showed zero interest in looking into why his discharge papers were not issued until years after they should have been and they spent no time cultivating sources who might have been interested in leaking official documents that Kerry refused to release. Again, all Bush documents had long since been released.

The panel report was prepared for CBS under some sort of legal services agreement and that agreement probably spelled out the nature of the engagement, the types of conclusions that the panel was permitted to draw and the levels of proof that CBS wanted to have applied to any such conclusions. Perhaps CBS is concerned about litigation or maybe they are worried about losing that share of the 35% of Americans that still don't believe that Bill Clinton had sex with "that woman" who are still willing to watch CBS news.


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