When Dan Rather was caught cooking the books in September of 2004, his first, uber-lame attempt at passing the buck was this clumsy on-air statement:
“Today, on the Internet and elsewhere, some people, including many who are partisan political operatives, concentrated not on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the story.”
Flash-forward nearly five years and watch the Washington Post attempt a reverse Dan Rather maneuver to try to cool the pressure from their own inconvenient documents, as Newsbusters’ Marie Mazzanti writes:
In an update on Tim Graham’s earlier post about The Washington Post’s flier that circulated to Beltway lobbyists, the Post abruptly canceled its “salon” program to offer “exclusive access” to “Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds” for between $25,000 and $250,000. (View an image of the flier.)
According to the Washington Examiner, Post company spokeswoman Kris Coratti issued a statement Thursday morning claiming that the flier was a “draft” that hadn’t been “properly vetted” before being dispatched.
“As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this,” Coratti said, “We do believe there is an opportunity to have a conferences and events business and that the Post should be leading these conversations in Washington, big or small, while maintaining journalistic integrity. The newsroom will participate where appropriate.”
There was an e-mail posted by Washington Independent columnist David Weigel from Brauchli which said that the “language in the flyer [sic] and the description of the event preclude our participation.”
“We will not participate in events where promises are made that in exchange for money The Post will offer access to newsroom personnel or will refrain from confrontational questioning. Our independence from advertisers or sponsors is inviolable,” Brauchli’s e-mail states “There is a long tradition of news organizations hosting conferences and events, and we believe The Post, including the newsroom, can do these things in ways that are consistent with our values.”
“This should never have happened. The fliers got out and weren’t vetted,” Weymouth told her paper. “They didn’t represent at all what we were attempting to do. We’re not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom.”
But while Dan prayed in vain that viewers would ignore his bogus documents and get back to the “real” story at hand, the Washington Post hopes you’ll forget both their document, and the implications of the story behind them.
“When a journalist says something now don’t you have to wonder who paid him to say it and why? And until you figure that out isn’t what the journalist says suspect, whether you happen to love him or hate him or even agree with him on policy issues? Aren’t we past the point of giving the benefit of the doubt to journalists?”
I’d say we passed that point for good about five years ago.
What say you, Dan?