TAKING CREDIT WHERE IT'S NOT DUE. I was working during 60 Minutes last night, and a transcript isn't available yet. But if past experience is any indication, this article at CBS.com is a good reflection of what happened on the broadcast. (If nothing else, it's obviously a good reflection of what the network chose to put on its website.) And I have to say that I have a real problem with this.
As everyone except Dan Rather has acknowledged, CBS lost control of this story because of its own shoddy reporting. On Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News broke what to my mind is the most significant story yet in figuring out the truth behind the fake Killian memos. Every account I saw yesterday credited the Morning News for its exclusive.
Yet the CBS.com article makes absolutely no mention of the Morning News. Instead, 60 Minutes interviewed the same woman whom the News interviewed several days ago - Marian Carr Knox, former secretary to the late lieutenant colonel Jerry Killian - and made it look almost as though it were CBS that was getting to the bottom of this whole mess.
I also saw two CBS transcripts on Lexis-Nexis from earlier in the day Wednesday, hyping the 60 Minutes story. Neither of them mentioned the role of the Morning News, either.
Now, giving credit to competitors is a sometime thing. Television news orgs tend to be worse about it than print, although newspapers often don't give credit when they should, either. But this isn't a matter of giving credit. This is a matter of a major new witness, Knox, providing further evidence that the memos CBS presented as genuine could not possibly have been produced in the early 1970s. The Morning News report was the most significant to date in proving that the memos were not what CBS claimed they were. Last night, CBS pretended as though Knox were its own witness.
It just so happens that CBS may be able to prevent what's already a major scandal from turning into a cataclysmic one, given that Knox also says the memos appear to be based on actual documents that existed at one time. But CBS should stop pretending that it's even in the game. Instead, it's sitting in the bleachers, hoping that other news orgs will dig up enough to let them salvage just a tiny bit of pride.
At least the CBS report comes with a warning: "60 Minutes will continue to aggressively investigate the story of President Bush's service in the National Guard - and the story of the documents and memos in Col. Killian's file." Look out!
As for who provided the memos to CBS, the finger is pointing closer and closer to this guy. Sorry, Rush - it wasn't Bob Shrum!
NET PRESSURE. Ross Kerber has a terrific story in today's Boston Globe about how bicyclists have been using the Internet to get out the word that Kryptonite's bike locks can easily be picked. They got action, too.
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S PHOENIX. Those looking for the tide to turn against George W. Bush shouldn't put too much hope in Kitty Kelley's gossip-fest or in CBS's dubious report.