The Peach

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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Rather Not

When 60 Minutes got hold of those National Guard documents, it must have thought it had something that would be ratings gold, because it made the decision to bump another important political story -- regarding other fraudulent documents -- to get the now-discredited, but way more sensationalistic National Guard report onto the airwaves.

The displaced story centers on a report -- which played a starring role in Bush's initial argument for going to war -- that Iraq had attempted to buy "yellowcake" uranium from Niger, pursuant to developing nuclear weapons. The whole idea was based on telexes, letters and contracts that turn out to be forgeries. The question of who forged them and why is an intriguing one that deserves to be answered. So does the question of how we could find ourselves at war, with 1,100 young Americans dead, based in part on documents that were almost instantly determined to be forgeries when examined by an impartial group.

The Bush administration may have been taken in, but they wanted to be taken in. Now, CBS News cannot imagine going on the air with a report that demands accountability for the administration's willingness to be taken in by phony documents. The Peach will only note that CBS, to its credit, has been willing to be held accountable for its error. They have not forfeited their right -- or been relieved of their obligation -- to report the truth.

When a major news organization decides that it would be "inappropriate" to air a report questioning our leaders prior to an election, the free press as we know it is in big trouble.

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