The Blog

A Cover-Up Is a Cover-Up

Like other powerful institutions confronted by scandal, CBS News is still fighting real reform. And still refusing to admit they have a problem.

11:00 PM, Jan 12, 2005 • By HUGH HEWITT
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We knew all of these things, and we know nothing new of significance post-report. We don't know who Lucy Ramirez is. We don't know the extent of the Kerry campaign coordination with Mapes and her team. We don't know who cooked up the scheme to use forgeries in an attempt to influence a presidential election. We don't know how many more Mary Mapeses are embedded within CBS. We don't even know if Dan Rather uses email or a blackberry. There has been no release of original documents, and no comprehensive release of transcripts of the panel's interviews with leading figures in the scandal.

The internal report resembles nothing so much as the various maneuvers adopted by the Diocese of Boston to do anything but admit the extent and depth of its scandal throughout the '80s and the '90s. It is a stonewall, and a clever one, designed as it is to appear comprehensive by virtue of length and footnotes, and signed off on by a former United States attorney general. A bit of genius, as well, to limit "The Panel" to a membership of two. Not much of a chance of an inconvenient dissenting opinion when the club is that small.

Patrick Ruffini and Jim Geraghty, among others, have worried that bloggers unsatisfied with the CBS whitewash run the risk of appearing extreme, even Javert-like. The trouble is that the central issue--agenda journalism as practiced by stark partisans operating within Big Media--has not only been sidestepped by the panel, it has been denied by Les Moonves. The key question is how many more Mapeses there are, how many more "Lucy Ramirezes" will surface in the out years, and how many more partisan attacks dressed up as reporting will be seen in future election cycles.

The folks eager to grant absolution to CBS, or to at least walk away from what they see as the train wreck, should read France's book. Of course the injury done to innocent victims of sexual assault cannot be compared to the costs of agenda journalism to the public's expectation of objective reporting; but a cover-up is a cover-up.

Hugh Hewitt is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show, and author most recently of Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That is Changing Your World. His daily blog can be found at