|The World According to Nick|
|My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.|
Friday, September 10, 2004
Well, 60 Minutes has stepped in it now. According to the Washington Post, and about a dozen bloggers around the internet, the new Bush National Guard papers are forgeries. Having looked at them myself (and personally duplicating them in Microsoft Word to the pixel in about 5 minutes) I have to agree with them. Talk about sloppy. But that's been covered already pretty thoroughly.
What I'd like to talk about are some of the things that struck me in the Washington Post article, most notably some of the quotes from CBS regarding the scandal... which I'll call Papergate (emphasis added):
So basically what we have here are a bunch of papers from who knows where, authenticated by who knows who, and we're supposed to trust you? First of all, let's go over the concept of "authentication". You can say that you authenticated something, but if you refuse to disclose the person or method who performed it, then authentication is worthless.
If we don't know each other I tell you who I am, you really have no reason to believe me unless I show you a photo ID. But if I show you a school ID from Billy Bob's School of Journalism let's say, would you believe it? Would you regard my name as authentic? Maybe not. What if I showed you my state issued driver's license? Probably you would. Both say who I am, but in this case, you have more trust in the issuer of one ID over the other. The same applies to authenticating a document. Not only do you need the final result from a person, but you also need to trust the person performing the authentication. CBS gives you the final result, and skips the need for trust in the authenticator. We have to have implied trust in the authenticator through CBS... which of course means that we have to trust CBS.
What bugs me even more is the media's ravenous foothold on a right that doesn't exist. Courts time and time again have stated that the media does not have the right (in court at least) to withhold the identity of a source. The media says it does due to "Freedom of the Press". This is bullshit. They claim that if they are required to disclose sources, no sources would come to them, and therefore they would not be able to accurately report events, eroding their 1st amendment rights. Worked great in this case didn't it? The problem is that this system is easily abused, and CBS is not taking the obvious step to remedy the problem.
Imagine if CBS were to say not only who gave them the documents, but also said who performed the poor authentication of them. They would be proclaiming to the world that we will protect your anonymity if you provide accurate information. But if you lie to us, we can't... no... we won't protect you. Wouldn't that bring even more integrity to news media? Shouldn't that be something that they'd want to do? Instead CBS is protecting liars and forgers, and destroying what little credibility they had with us. What does that say about the rest of their news? As far as I'm concerned now, CBS is just another Billy Bob's School of Journalism.
Update: Many thanks to VodkaPundit for the linkage.
Update II: Upon further review... I've given the topic more thought which can be found here.
Update III: And from the Washington Post, now we know why CBS didn't release the name of the document authenticator:
I rest my case.
Lileks or someone has postulated that if a CBS staffer was the source of this tripe, then the odds are that it would have been vetted within an inch of it's existence. It wasn't, thereby leading to the conclusion that the source and chief water-carrier for this story is Rather himself. Only Rather could have carried this all the way up the editing and programming chain and not allowed anyone access to the documents. Only Rather himself could have denied the vetting process. And that is why Rather will be gone.
"Only Rather himself could have denied the vetting process. And that is why Rather will be gone."From your lips to Gods ears! I have despised this arrogant a$$hole for a LONG time.Post a Comment
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States
I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.
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