Mark Hyman: The-Not- Ready-for-Anytime Player
In what is apparently supposed to be a knee-slapper of a commentary, Hyman satirizes CBS and Dan Rather by claiming to have discovered memos implicating George W. Bush in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and the sinking of the
While we wait for Hyman to take the stage for his next set at the Chuckle Hut, let’s take a look at the argument being made.
Hyman joins a long list of right-wing commentators who use the lack of a comprehensive vetting of this specific collection of memos as a fig leaf to cover the embarrassing truth about Bush’s dereliction of duty while supposedly serving in the National Guard. What they pointedly don’t acknowledge is that the memos in question don’t say anything that hasn’t been established by numerous other sources. Indeed, when the White House itself was presented with the documents, they didn’t immediately claim they were inaccurate. Laura Bush herself said in an interview that the documents were “probably” forgeries.
The only explanation for this equivocation is that A) the content of the memos is materially accurate, and B) there is no contradicting evidence that the White House can provide that calls this content into question. In fact, the secretary of Gen. Killian (the alleged source of the memos) has said that although she believes the memos are constructions after the fact, they accurately reflect the General’s views of Bush. Hyman, Newsmax, the Freepers, et al. love to cite the first part of her views, but never mention the second.
Of course, if it turns out that journalistic protocol wasn’t followed in vetting the documents in question, heads should and will roll at CBS (this would be true even if the documents ended up being authentic). Among the many reasons for this is that the memo affair has caused the network to spike an important story by “60 Minutes’” Ed Bradley on the misinformation and distortions that led to the invasion of
Moreover, we need to be consistent in our demand for the truth. And this is exactly where Hyman & Co. drop the ball. Despite the caterwauling by the radical Right, the media has done all sorts of stories on CBS and “memogate,” while virtually no attention was paid when the New York Times admitted that it accepted at face value evidence used to back up administration claims about
Of course, we shouldn’t expect anything from Hyman. We know that like so many on the right, he’s a thoroughgoing relativist when it comes to ethics and value judgments. Although it’s conservatives who most often decry “situational ethics,” they are its foremost practitioners. We’ve seen with the Kerry/Bush Vietnam debate that it’s impossible to be critical of Kerry’s military record and not be absolutely appalled at Bush’s desertion . . . at least not without bending one’s sense of ethics into a pretzel. So it is with the issue of journalists rushing provocative information to the public in the interest of getting a scoop: one can’t be apoplectic about CBS for cutting corners on publicizing memos that don’t say anything that hasn’t already been established about Bush’s sorry excuse for a military career and at the same time have no sense of indignation about trumped up evidence that has contributed to the deaths of so many.
In fact, to return to Hyman’s hamfisted attempt at humor, despite his jokes about Bush sinking the Lusitania, the fact of the matter is that between Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of U.S. soldiers killed almost exactly equals the death toll from the Lusitania, and it will certainly surpass it in the near future.
Real funny, Mark.
And that’s The Counterpoint.