The report names the culprit as a myopic zeal to get the story, but it never gets to the roots of that zeal. Though the report found no proof of a political bias, the context and facts lead directly to that conclusion. The laxity with which Rather and producer Mary Mapes pursued this story and the fact that they both continue to insist it is true indicate a willingness to be guided by their own preconceived notions rather than the facts.
It is perfectly clear that Mapes and Rather failed to confirm the story and also misrepresented the facts. Why? Because they wanted to be the first to air it? That was one reason. But why give the White House only a few hours to respond, while alerting the Kerry campaign more than a week in advance?
Both Rather and Mapes have a history of advancing left-wing causes through shoddy journalism. CBS should have done as The New York Times did with Jayson Blair and The New Republic did with Stephen Glass: examine the whole history of Rathers and Mapes reporting. Instead, CBS focused only on this report and let its star and Mapes escape with potentially salvageable reputations. Dont be surprised if Mapes is soon hired by PBS.
There is no way this story ever would have aired had John Kerry, and not President Bush, been its subject. That is the real scandal. And it is one that CBS has yet to address.