Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Brit Hume, on Fox News Channels’ daily national news show “Special Report,” stated yesterday:

“The New York Times reports that media outlets obtained that controversial memo highlighting political benefits of the Terry Schiavo case from Democratic aides who said it had been distributed to Senate Republicans. But according to Fox News contributor Fred Barnes, Top Senate Republicans including Majority Leader Bill Frist and Majority Whip Mitch McConnell never saw the memo. What’s more, the ‘talking points’ were printed on blank paper [with] no letterhead, date or signature [and] contained numerous factual and typographical errors. And ABC News, which first ran the memo under the headline ‘GOP talking points,’ now says they [ABC News] never meant to imply that ‘it [the talking points document] was created by Republicans.”

This is really rich. ABC News says that although it labeled a document as “GOP talking points,” it of course didn’t mean to imply that the document was created by Republicans. Linda Douglass [who is about as impartial as Harry Caray was in reporting on the Cubs] of ABC News, first reported on the document on March 18, 2005 and ABC put the full document on the ABCNews website on March 21, 2005, saying the document listed “talking points on the Terri Schiavo case,” and the document “was circulated among Republican senators on the floor of the Senate.” I wonder how anyone could think that ABC suggested that the document was created by Republicans.

The problems with ABC’s and other mainstream media’s handling and questioning of the authenticity of the so-called “Republican talking points memo,” are outlined in some detail in a column by John Hinderaker in yesterday’s WeeklyStandard.com. Perhaps the most striking problem is that no one has reported seeing any Republican distributing the suspect memo; the only people confirmed to have passed out the memo were Democratic staffers. Meanwhile, as Hinderaker reports, the usual lefties, e.g., Eleanor Clift and Ellen Goodman, have been using the memo to berate Republicans-- and Goodman, who writes for the Washington Post, the paper that won’t disclose what evidence it has for the memo’s authenticity, said: “And don’t forget the infamous ‘talking points memo,’ ABC News ‘found,’ reminding Republican Senators that ‘the pro-life base will be excited’ and it’s a ‘great political issue.”

No need for ABC to worry. Should they have to purge any of their staff due to the bungling of the reporting on Republican talking points, there is someone standing by with some time on his hands and he is, no doubt, ready and willing to step in for anyone who might be axed, and he knows something about the trials and tribulations of document authentication. His name? Why Dan Rather, of course.

As the French say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at JBCG@aol.com