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FIRST-PERSON: Bernard Goldberg is vindicated

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–If Bernard Goldberg’s 2002 book “Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News” did not convince the public at-large that television news leans decidedly left, perhaps the recent decision by CBS to report on suspect documents will.

In “Bias,” Goldberg makes the case that network news in America has become dominated by ideologues who champion a political agenda — a decidedly liberal agenda. Even though he was a 30-year veteran at CBS, Goldberg’s views have been dismissed by many as one man’s opinion.

CBS’s recent rush to report potentially damaging documents concerning President Bush’s National Guard service might well vindicate Mr. Goldberg.

On “60 Minutes II” Sept. 8, CBS’ Dan Rather reported on four documents he claimed were written by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, 1st Lt. George W. Bush’s superior, that indicate Bush failed to meet the standards required by the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s.

The documents were presented by Rather as coming from Killian’s personal files. In them, Killian seems to complain that he was being pressured by his superior officers to “sugarcoat” Bush’s substandard performance in his official records. He also describes how Bush had asked him how he could get out of “coming to drill.”

Less than 24 hours after the CBS report, forensics experts were casting doubt on the authenticity of the documents. Among the problems, the font style used to produce the papers was not available on typewriters in the early 1970’s when the documents would have been produced. The documents also included a superscript — a raised “th” included in such phrases as “111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron” — that was not available on typewriters then.

One expert, reports The Chicago Sun-Times, is Philip D. Bouffard, a nationally recognized forensic authority in typewriter and electronic typefaces.

Bouffard’s conclusion after examining CBS’ documents: “It is remotely possible there is some typewriter that has the capability to do all this … but it is more likely these documents were generated in the common Times New Roman font and printed out on a computer printer that did not exist at the time they were supposedly created.”

For the record, according to The Sun-Times, Bouffard is a registered Democrat planning to vote for Kerry.

Why would Dan Rather report on documents that news organizations from sea to shining sea are now calling into question? Why would CBS air a document without thoroughly investigating its veracity? One word: bias. Rather and his cohorts at CBS will do all they can to discredit President Bush and ensure he is defeated in his bid for reelection.

Surveys done in recent years have indicated journalists in general, and electronic journalists in particular, are far more liberal in their voting patterns, and opinions, than the public at large. In “Bias,” Bernard Goldberg reported that one such survey found that 89 percent of Washington journalists voted for Bill Clinton in 1992.

Everyone has a bias. Journalists should not be faulted for having opinions or for being passionate about certain views. However, when those opinions begin to dominate how or what is presented in a story, it becomes a problem.

News organizations have a right to voice opinions, political and otherwise. However, they should be expressed via editorial and/or opinion pieces. When political opinions begin to determine what is and is not news, objective reporting is the first casualty.

Some will try to equate CBS’ airing of documents damaging to Bush with the attempt of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s attempt to discredit John Kerry’s service in Vietnam. They are not the same.

If an anti-Bush group had aired the suspect documents, a comparison could be made to the Swiftees. However, the documents were made public by a news organization as noteworthy.

It remains to be seen whether or not the documents reported on CBS are legitimate. However, with Dan Rather’s rush to report on the suspect documents, it is clear CBS has revealed its bias. Bernard Goldberg must be smiling.

    About the Author

  • Kelly Boggs