Three weeks after he denounced the internet as being “filled with rumors,” the embattled CBS anchor ran a story on his Tuesday “Evening News” program hoping to stir up fear of an impending military draft.
In a story that was a textbook example of slipshod reporting, CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger used debunked internet hoax emails and an unlabeled interest group member to scare elderly “Evening” viewers into believing that the U.S. government is poised to resume the draft.
At the center of Schlesinger’s piece was a woman named Beverly Cocco, a Philadelphia woman who is “sick to my stomach” that her two sons might be drafted. In his report, Schlesinger claimed that Cocco was a Republican and portrayed her as an apolitical (even Republican) mom worried about the future.
Schlesinger did not disclose that Cocco is a chapter president of an advocacy group called People Against the Draft (PAD) which, in addition to opposing any federal proscription, seeks to establish a “peaceful, rational foreign policy” by bringing all U.S. troops out of Iraq. Like Schlesinger’s Cocco, the group portrays itself as “nonpartisan”although its leadership seems to be entirely bereft of any Republicans.
The group’s domain is registered to a man named Jacob Levich, a left-wing activist who in a 2001 essay compared the Bush Administration to the totalitarian government portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984.
RatherBiased has the whole story, which I suggest you read. But my favorite bit is a quote from Cocco’s son, asked if he and his college buddies are worried about a new draft:
Yeah. It’s the talk. The talk’s there. Though people aren’t actually coming out and saying it, it’s, it’s there.
Hey, just because no one is actually saying anything, doesn’t mean they aren’t talking. And just because memos are forged, doesn’t make them any less true.