September 10, 2004

Rather Outrageous, Don't You Think?

I just finished reading the transcript of the Dan Rather-Ben Barnes interview on 60 Minutes. What a waste of airtime. Really. Forget about the fact that Rather keeps asking (and repeating) irrelevant and/or obvious questions to pad the thing out. ("Do you remember whether you called [Gen. Rose] or wrote him?"; "And the attitude toward the draft by this time had become what?") What the whole interview boils down to is that Barnes alleges that because a friend of the Bushes (not the Bushes themselves, mind you) asked him to, he made a phone call on behalf of George W. That's it. And that's nothing new. The Boston Globe already reported on 2000.
But last year, Ben Barnes, who was speaker of the Texas House in 1968, said in a sworn deposition in a civil lawsuit that he called Guard officials seeking a Guard slot for Bush after a friend of Bush's father asked him to do so.
--Walter Robinson, The Boston Globe, May 23, 2000.

There's nothing new in this story. One can only conclude that Rather and CBS decided to try to get some new mileage out of an old story in the hope of influencing the election.

Barnes might not be the best choice. Not only do the memos appear to be fraudulent, but if Barnes' daughter is to be believed, Barnes' testimony may be fraudulent. This is from Bandit's Hideout:

In a phone call to WBAP's Mark Davis radio show in Dallas, Texas, Ms. Barnes told guest host Monica Crowley that her father was an "opportunist" who had lied about Bush's Guard record during a "60 Minutes II" broadcast Tuesday night.

BARNES: I love my father very much but he's doing this for purely political reasons. He is a big Kerry fundraiser and he is writing a book also. And [the Bush story] is what he's leading the book off with . . . He denied this to me in 2000 that he did get Bush out [of Vietnam service]. Now he's saying he did.

CROWLEY: Did he tell you, Amy - and I'm glad I have you on the line with me - did your father tell you that he was prepared to do this on behalf of John Kerry - go after President Bush like this?

BARNES: He told me he was going to do it. In fact I talked to him a couple of months ago. He told me he was writing the book. He told me that he was going to be talking about this. And he knows that I - we have very diverse political opinions. He knows my opinions and we get into this debate every time I see him. But, you know, he said that he was going to be talking about it.

CROWLEY: Now you're saying, Amy, that he has had two separate stories on President Bush's Guard duty during the Vietnam era?

BARNES: Yes, yes. This came out in 2000 and I asked him then, at the time, if he [helped get Bush into the Guard]. He said, "No, absolutely not. I did not do that."

CROWLEY: So, I hate to put you in this position but I will ask you, do you think your father, Ben Barnes - who was on "60 Minutes II" with Dan Rather last night - do you believe that he lied on the air to the American people last night about President Bush?

BARNES: Yes, I do. I absolutely do. And I think he's doing he's doing it for purely political, opportunistic reasons - trying to get John Kerry elected and trying to make Bush look like the bad person. . . . Like I said, he's going to be trying to promote his book that he's got coming out. [End of Excerpt]

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