Roger L. Simon

Hugh's Suggestion

Hugh Hewitt has issued a challenge of sorts to CBS to send drafts of their Rathergate report to a group of bloggers in advance of its release. Like others, I doubt the network will do that, though I certainly agree with Hugh that the report will be one of the most thoroughly vetted documents of all time by bloggers. And I am obviously curious about the results.

But at least equally significant will be the response of The New York Times. That paper, as most know, had its own scandal not long ago and reacted relatively swiftly, giving not only the offending reporter Jayson Blair the sack, but also his superior, Managing Editor Howell Raines. CBS has not behaved in a similar manner. No heads, to our knowledge, have rolled and, although an internal investigation was launched, the release of the results of the investigation have been delayed, giving the appearance of circled wagons.

Leaving aside the public relations stupidity of this on the part of CBS, it will be interesting to see how the Times reacts when the report finally surfaces. The Times has a long history of collaborations with the network, most recently around the Al Qaqaa kerfuffle when new managing editor Bill Keller apparently released the story early, a few days before the election. CBS had wanted to go for the throat on election eve without giving the Administration time to respond to what was at least in part a bogus or exaggerated story. Will the Times now fully vet the Rathergate report when it appears? Will they give it the full investigative treatment of which they are capable? Let’s hope so because, like or not, they still have much greater facilities for such of an investigation than we do. And much of the authority of the mainstream media still vests with them.