On September 8, 2004 CBS "60 Minutes" reported that "President Bush received preferential treatment to gain entrance to the Texas Air National Guard and that he may not have fulfilled all of the requirements." The report featured memos purportedly by the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, who commanded Bush's squadron in Texas.
However, online activists quickly raised questions, in particular challenging
the authenticity of the memos. For example "Buckhead," writing on
the FreeRepublic website later on September 8, noted:
"I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old.
Two weeks of controversy followed. On September 20 CBS News anchor Dan Rather apologized for using the documents, stating that he no longer had confidence in them and that it was a "mistake in judgment" to use them.
The BoycottCBS.com website summarized
the episode thusly:
Even after Rather's apology, many questions remained, as the Republican National Committee pointed out (Ed Gillespie Sept. 22, 2004 statement).
The conservative Media Research Center named "Dan Rather's Forgery Fiasco" as number on on its list of "The Ten Worst Media Distortions of Campaign 2004" (Oct. 28, 2004). >>
Producer Mary Mapes later
covered this episode as part of her book:
TRUTH AND DUTY: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power (St. Martin's Press, Nov. 2005). >>
Copyright © 2004, 2005 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.