updated 9/15/2004 12:15:57 PM ET 2004-09-15T16:15:57

Guests: Grover Norquist, Joseph Farah, Byron York, Mort Zuckerman, Jim Warren, John Stossel, Michael Dobbs

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, evidence is stacking up that CBS‘ National Guard documents aren‘t the real thing.  The “Real Deal,” it‘s time for Dan Rather to apologize to his viewers and save his sagging credibility. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, live from San Francisco, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

CBS sticks by its story, even as one of its experts says he never authenticated the documents.  Rather-gate rolls on, while the network of Murrow plants its head deeper in the sand.

And all bets are off.  President Bush addressed a National Guard conference in Las Vegas today, while Texans For Truth put up a $50,000 reward to anybody who can prove that President Bush fulfilled his National Guard service in Alabama. 

And later, what role did the Internet play in developing CBS‘ document scandals?  Was the old media caught off guard by new media types like bloggers?  You are not going to want to miss this one. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, live from San Francisco.  A lot of you saying, how could San Francisco be SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY?  And like I have been telling you all along, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is not a geographic location.  It‘s a state of mind.  Tonight, that state of mind is in San Francisco, a city that I truly love, always have. 

Anyway, Dan Rather continues to play dumb.  That‘s bad news for CBS. 

It‘s time for the “Real Deal.” 

Now, Dan Rather and the news hounds at CBS continue their losing efforts at pouring cold water on the Bush document scandal.  This morning, an explosive report from “The Washington Post” that says the expert that CBS initially cited to defend their allegedly forged document is now saying that he never actually authenticated the document in question.  Add to that a flurry of inconsistencies involving font type, factual inaccuracies contained in the document, stylistic differences, and fact that the main subject of the memo left the National Guard a year and a half before the document in question was supposedly generated, and you almost have a document that almost every journalist in America that works outside the gates of CBS News thinks is forged. 

As Howard Fineman told me last night, the real tragedy of the scandal is this, that it only reinforces what conservatives have thought about Dan Rather and big media for years now, that it is biased and that Dan Rather is biased and that they work overtime to bring down conservative candidates.  Now, whether you believe that or not, you have to know that Dan Rather and CBS need to stop circling the wagons on this scandal and admit that they may have made a terrible mistake. 

Americans are going to forgive Dan Rather for his journalistic lapse of judgment, but they will not forgive him or his news organization if they think they are covering up a scandal that is breaking against the esteemed news outlet.  That‘s why it‘s time to come clean, Dan.  You need to do it for your own sake and the sake of CBS News. 

And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, in today‘s “Washington Post,” Michael Dobbs and Howard Kurtz wrote this—quote—“The lead expert retained by CBS News to examine disputed memos from President Bush‘s former squadron commander in the National Guard said yesterday that he examined only the late officer‘s signature and made no attempt to authenticate the documents themselves.”

Michael Dobbs joins us now. 

Michael give us the very latest on this story.  You wrote an incredibly insightful story this morning for “The Post.”  What‘s the latest? 

MICHAEL DOBBS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, we tried to put on one side the documents that had been given to us by CBS as memos purportedly from President Bush Bush‘s former squadron commander, Colonel Killian. 

And we put that on one side and we had another stack of documents that we knew had come from Colonel Killian.  And there‘s huge differences between the two.  The documents from CBS appear to have been generated by a computer or word processor using pretty sophisticated techniques.  And the documents that we knew had come from Colonel Killian had been written by a manual typewriter.  That was just one of many differences between them.

SCARBOROUGH:  You talked about word processing techniques.  You talked about factual problems.  You talked about stylistic differences.  Talk about the factual problems. 

DOBBS:  Well, one of the factual problems was—I spoke to several of Colonel Killian‘s former colleagues, and they pointed to the fact that the commander, a man called Colonel Staudt, who allegedly put pressure on Colonel Killian to give favorable reports to President Bush, left, retired from the National Guard a year and a half before he‘s mentioned in the memo.  That‘s one problem. 

Another problem is that the address given in one of these memos, which is an old address for Bush‘s father, actually, address that George W. Bush was no longer using in 1973 when it crops up in the memo. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Michael, you also talked to somebody that‘s an expert in Microsoft programming.  He has written several books on it.  You and Howard Kurtz cite him at the very top of your news article, Joseph Newcomer.  What did he say about these documents in question? 

DOBBS:  Well, he is one of the people who worked early on in the development of new computer fonts.  And he said that, according to the tests that he has run, he is 100 percent sure that these documents could not have been produced not only by a manual typewriter.  That‘s obvious.

But, at the time, there were IBM typewriters called Selectrics which were able to produce a kind of proportional spacing.  So CBS has said that this was technically possible, but our sources are saying that it wasn‘t. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And his quote here: “I am personally 100 percent sure that they are fake.”

Now let‘s bring in the rest of our panel.  Stay with us, if you will, Mr. Dobbs. 

We are going to be bringing in John Stossel.  Of course, he‘s the host of “20/20.”  He‘s also the author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.”  We also have Mort Zuckerman.  He‘s the publisher of “U.S. News and World Report.”  We have Jim Warren.  He‘s deputy managing editor of “The Chicago Tribune.”  And we have Brian (sic) York.  He‘s White House correspondent for “The National Review.”  Byron York, I‘m sorry.  He‘s White House correspondent for “The National Review.”

Let‘s begin with you, John Stossel.

Of course, a lot of people out there are looking at this situation.  They can‘t understand why Dan Rather doesn‘t step forward and just admit, hey, we may have made a mistake.  Let‘s conduct an internal investigation.  Why is he not doing that? 

JOHN STOSSEL, “20/20”:  I can‘t speak for Dan, but I can understand that reporters get invested in their story.  They think they have something, and until it‘s proven to him, he doesn‘t want to back down.

But you are right.  He could have said, instead of, we stand by our story, we better check this out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John, are you surprised that Dan Rather‘s response to this whole scandal has been: “You have got to prove me wrong first.  I don‘t have to prove that these documents are legitimate.  You have to come here and prove to me they are forgeries”?

If you had a young reporter coming into ABC News, would you tell him that is the burden of proof for a respected journalist? 

STOSSEL:  No, but I could see how he would say, well, show me how they are forgeries, though it looks as if a lot of people have given him evidence by now. 

I don‘t think it‘s correct what you said at the beginning.  You said some conservatives believe that these reporters work overtime to bring down conservative candidates.  I think Rather thinks he is being objective.  As the book “Bias” pointed out, he thinks “The New York Times” is middle of the road. 

Everyone around him...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  I‘m sorry.  We lost John Stossel there for a second.  We can still hear him.  We got his audio. 

But we got John Stossel‘s point. 

Let‘s go now to Mort Zuckerman.

Mort, what is your take on the CBS scandal?  Do you think that Dan Rather is taking the right approach, standing by these documents, saying, basically, hey, prove me wrong? 

MORT ZUCKERMAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT”:  Look, I think a lot of us know Dan Rather for a long time, and I think he is a man of extraordinary personal and professional integrity, and I think he absolutely and genuinely believes that this story is accurate. 

Now, I think the fact that he believes it doesn‘t mean that it‘s accurate, and I think a lot of questions have been raised, most uniquely by this extraordinary story in “The Washington Post” that you referred to already.  And NBC had a forensic expert on the air who said that he believed that almost any qualified forensic expert would dismiss the credibility of these documents.  So there are a lot of very serious questions.

But I really do think that CBS and Dan Rather believe in the accuracy of the news report that they gave.  As I say, it doesn‘t mean they are right, but I think that‘s what puts him in the position that they are right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I called Dan Rather, actually—I am going to admit this to my conservative friends.  I called Dan Rather the morning after the disputed election results came in, and I actually thanked him.  I said, I thought you did an extraordinarily fair job.

Same with 9/11.  In times of crises, I think this is a man of integrity. 

ZUCKERMAN:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think his politics are center-left.  I don‘t think he understands that himself.  I think maybe that‘s because of the culture that he has grown up in.

So I am not questioning his integrity here tonight.  I am questioning his judgment, though, when CBS—and CBS News‘ judgment.  Can you believe they are actually telling their experts don‘t talk to third parties and saying you are going to have to come here and prove us wrong?  That‘s just not a proper journalistic standard, is it? 

ZUCKERMAN:  You know, as Alex Jones from the Shorenstein Center was quoted in “The New York Times” today, and he said at this stage of the game it is not up to people to prove those documents wrong.  It is up to CBS now to prove those documents right, because there have been very legitimate and very serious questions raised, obviously, as you indicated in “The Washington Post” story.

So I do think that this story is not over yet, and it‘s going to be very interesting to see how CBS handles it from this point on.  I don‘t think they can just stop where they are now and say, look, we are satisfied with these documents and with the evidence that we have brought forth.  I think there are too many very serious questions from people who are just genuinely concerned over the credibility of these documents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Byron York, one of the explosive developments today, again, this “Washington Post” story, where CBS trots out earlier in this scandal, they trot out somebody that they say authenticated these documents.

And, of course, the headline here is, expert cited by CBS says he didn‘t authenticate papers.  And yet CBS is still saying, we‘re not launching an internal investigation, basically circling the wagons.  What is the problem?  What am I missing?

BYRON YORK, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “THE NATIONAL REVIEW”:  Yes. 

Well, the story is that the document examiner who CBS had presented as someone who had authenticated the whole bunch now says that he simply looked at one copied signature and did not verify the whole documents and by the way had looked at the deteriorated copies.  These were photographs of the original documents.  So he said there was no way to authenticate them. 

I think what CBS needs to do now is not only, if they determine that the documents are simply not reliable, they cannot be authenticated, they need to say that.  And then they need to tell their viewers how it happened. 

You know, in “The New York Times”‘ Jayson Blair scandal, “The Times” published a very long account of how it happened.  And many years ago in the Janet Cooke scandal, “The Washington Post” published a very long account of how this happened.  And I think that, given the problems that we have seen with the authenticators saying they really didn‘t authenticate these things, I think CBS owes its viewers an explanation of what went wrong. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, “USA Today” did the same thing. 

Now, John Stossel, we lost you out in the cactus patch there for a second in Arizona. 

Finish your point.  It sounded at the beginning like you were suggesting that conservatives don‘t think that Dan Rather is a liberal. 

STOSSEL:  No, I certainly wasn‘t saying that.  Conservatives definitely do. 

I was disagreeing with the point that they purposefully try to shape the news to hurt conservative candidates. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

STOSSEL:  And I just think that the mainstream reporters truly believe they are being objective, because all around us are people who act as if conservative ideas are insane. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

John, thanks.  I will tell you what.  Stay there. 

And I have just got to say, I agree with John Stossel.  I came out of politics, came into journalism, been working in the media now for a year and a half.  I don‘t come across people that purposely try to slant the story one way or the other.  I think, again, they come to the story with a certain objective.  And most people—let‘s face it.  Most people in media, at least in New York and L.A. and in other areas in big media, probably are center-left politically.

And, again, I don‘t think Dan Rather is trying to do anything improper, but I do think he is showing very poor judgment, as is CBS News, in how they are conducting this investigation, or lack thereof. 

Now, I want everybody to stick around, because, when we come back, are going to talk a lot more, going to be talking about the Democratic Party.  They‘re releasing a new attack ad talking about George Bush‘s honesty during his military career.  You‘re going to hear about that coming up.

And later on, we‘re going to be talking about old media vs. new media.  What role is the Internet playing in our coverage of today‘s top news stories?  We‘re going to take a closer look at that and also going to keep talking about the Dan Rather scandal that continues rolling on tonight. 

You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY live from San Francisco on MSNBC. 

Stick around. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We will be right back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, live from San Francisco, talking more about the CBS National Guard scandal and media bias and how it may affect this year‘s election. 

We‘ll be right back live from San Francisco in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH ®, ARIZONA:  What did Dan Rather know and when did he know it?  Understand, we believe in the First Amendment.  Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press.  All we ask, Mr.  Speaker, is that Dan Rather answer those two questions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are back now with our panel.  Let‘s go to Jim Warren. 

Jim, obviously, a lot of Republicans out there are going to make political hay over this.  Do you think that this may actually become a campaign issue that in the end hurts John Kerry in his camp‘s attempts to paint George Bush as a deserter or a draft dodger for not showing up at some of his National Guard service? 

JIM WARREN, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  Well, for starters, let me say, Joe, sitting here in the Midwest, as you, Joe Scarborough, cater on the elites on the East Coast, forgetting us out here, I must commend you for that uncharacteristically effusive praise of that bastion of the liberal elite, “The Washington Post,” Michael‘s employer.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

WARREN:  I think, to answer your question, I think anything that focuses as much attention as has been focused on Vietnam seems to have hurt Kerry.  Things seemed to have backfired on him. 

The Bush folks, whether intentionally or not, have turned a seeming strength of Kerry‘s into a clear weakness.  But I find this whole discussion, the whole obsession with this topic most, most curious.  We‘re also forgetting, as we‘re obsessed with the arcane disputes among experts on type size, on fonts, did typewriters back then, were they able to do this or that, that you also had on camera, I believe, the former lieutenant governor of Texas speaking very clearly and articulately about what most of us left to right now come to understand, that the president did get superficial treatment—preferential treatment.  I‘m sorry. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No.  No.

WARREN:  And also the fact that “The Boston Globe,” “The Boston Globe” has reported that he did not as required sign up as he should have with that Boston unit. 

But my point is that I think in the year 2000 against Al Gore, these basic questions about that period of his life were asked and answered, and not many folks are going to be swayed one way or another.  So, with 1,000 Americans dead in Iraq, with maybe 10,000 civilians dead in Iraq, it would be nice if we can focus on that, whether you are a Democrat or Republican, because I think ultimately this stuff reflects in part a vestige of this new media you are going to be talking about, which sadly is a growth of where the old media has gone, and that is too much an inclination toward at times the utterly superficial. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Jim, despite the fact that you mocked me by talking about...

WARREN:  Sitting out there in latte land, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s unbelievable, latte land, San Francisco. 

I want to ask you, obviously, you work for a great newspaper, one of the best in the Midwest, one of the best in America.  I want to ask you the same question I asked the guests at the top of the show.  If you had a young journalist coming in to you, working for you, working under you, saying, is Dan Rather handling this journalistic dust-up, this scandal properly, what would you say to that young journalist? 

WARREN:  I would remind them of a great line from the old city news bureau of Chicago, a classic training ground, particularly in the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s, for young journalists.  If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

WARREN:  And I think that would presumably be similarly the case now. 

In fairness to Rather and CBS, I don‘t know what they are doing in-house, and I do think that you came pretty close to raising doubts about Dan Rather‘s integrity.  They are big-time professionals.  It‘s also possible once in a while that one does, indeed, make a mistake.  It‘s why there are days where papers like ours, “The Chicago Tribune,” a big supporter of George Bush, and “The New York Times,” a big opponent of George Bush, have corrections and clarification boxes that run seemingly toward the horizon, because we take accuracy quite clearly, but we also know that we are fallible and make mistakes with some unfortunate regularity. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But CBS is not—they‘re not stepping up, though, are they right now?  They are not conducting internal investigations.  They‘re not doing what the “USA Today” did when they had problems.  They‘re not doing what “The New York Times” did when they had problems with Jayson Blair.  They are not doing what “The Washington Post” did when they had problems decades ago, are they? 

WARREN:  Well, they have not announced anything formal, I gather, at this point.  But I assume you‘ve got a lot of folks working 18- and 24-hour days trying to get to the bottom of this.  And pretty quickly there will be a whole lot of pressure from the likes of you and a lot of other folks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They are saying, prove us wrong.  They‘re saying, we are not conducting an internal investigation.  They said, we are standing by this story. 

WARREN:  Well, I suspect, within 24, 48 hours, all the more so after folks at John Stossel‘s network tonight, Brian Ross, I believe—John can correct me if I‘m wrong—produced experts whom CBS have in some fashion relied on, essentially, if I heard correctly recanting, if not recanting their claims, at least saying they were not accurately depicted as supporting the authenticity of those documents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John Stossel, let me bring you in here.  I think everybody is being way too polite.  Nobody wants here to state the obvious, and the obvious is that it appears, if this “Washington Post” story and that the “Washington Post” reporting from the very beginning has blown holes in Dan Rather‘s story.  I know a lot of people hang out with Dan Rather on the Upper West Side.  I am not suggesting that you all, as my guests, do.

But some people come across him at cocktail parties, and we don‘t want to state the obvious.  And the obvious is, they have got a forged document that is stinking up this whole news agency, and they are circling the wagons.  They don‘t want to embarrass Dan Rather on his last victory lap.  John, come on.  As John Lennon said, just give me some truth. 

STOSSEL:  Well, I think Jim is right.  I think they are investigating, and they will say something.  The wagons are on fire at the moment.  And I think when “60 Minutes II” is on again on Wednesday, they will take it back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, but you say they are investigating.  That means that Dan Rather is a liar, because Dan Rather said there‘s no internal investigation.  We are standing by these documents. 

Are you calling Dan Rather a liar here tonight, John Stossel? 

STOSSEL:  I don‘t know what he knew when, no.

But I think Dan Rather is a liberal reporter.  And the producers who basically, I assume, produced this piece are probably liberal, too, and they tend to believe things that are critical of conservatives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mort Zuckerman, let‘s move on not just talking about Dan Rather‘s integrity.  And, again, I am going to restate what I said before.  I don‘t think Dan Rather believes he is being unfair to George Bush, just like he didn‘t believe he was being unfair to George Bush‘s father in 1988 in that famous interview that caused a big dust-up in the campaign.

But don‘t you think it‘s fair for conservatives to look at this story, compare how he handled this story with how we handled the swift vet story, and say he jumped in on this story a little too quickly, and maybe that‘s why it blew up in his face? 

ZUCKERMAN:  Well, let me just say in general I too do not know what‘s going on in CBS, but there is something called a theory of holes.                And it goes as follows.  When you are in one, stop digging. 

(LAUGHTER)

ZUCKERMAN:  And I can‘t imagine that they don‘t realize that.  There are just too many questions now that have been raised.  They cannot let it sit where it is. 

And I have to say, there is a natural instinct in the media to go after what they think is a hot story, and I think that‘s perfectly appropriate.  Certainly, the swift boats vet story was a hot story, and this one appears to be a hot story, and therefore, I think it‘s only natural that they went after it.  I just don‘t have the same take on it that you do. 

I must say that I am really astonished that, given what both ABC has come up with, NBC has come up with, “The Washington Post,” these are not conservative bastions, as you would describe them, and yet they are the ones who are coming up with all of this contrary evidence to the validity of these stories.  So I don‘t think it fits just a conservative-liberal mind-set or framework.  I think this is just something that came up that looked like a very, very serious and hot story on a subject—I mean, look, let‘s face it.  We are spending more time on the war in Vietnam than we are on the war in Iraq. 

And John Kerry has managed out of all of this to make this election so far a referendum on him, rather than on George Bush, which is no small achievement.  And so all of these issues that pertain to what happened way back then are bound to come up.  And I do agree with what Jim was saying.  I don‘t think it‘s going to affect George Bush‘s standing at all, one way or another. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t think it will either.  You know, I think most people figured out in 2000 that George Bush wasn‘t actively involved in the National Guard.  They discounted that four years ago.  Anybody that thinks that‘s going to change a vote now is kidding themselves.  Now, Mort, I...

ZUCKERMAN:  I have to tell you, I don‘t know of a single person who wasn‘t a member of the National Guard who didn‘t miss a meeting or two, to put it mildly, so I don‘t think this is something that is seen as anything extraordinary, if it did happen.  I just think this is the proverbial mountain out of a molehill.

But how they handled this story at CBS I think may make it into a bigger story than it deserves to be. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Mort, that‘s what I want to talk to you about, because someone would call you a media mogul.  I think that‘s a little too frightening of a term, but you run large media operations.  Are you surprised that CBS News and CBS and the parent company, Viacom, have mishandled this story as badly as they have?  I think that‘s the bigger story than the forged documents. 

ZUCKERMAN:  I think if, as you describe it, that is CBS‘ approach, then perhaps you are right. 

At this point, I do share the view that given what has come forth today, particularly that “Washington Post” story that you led the program with, I just don‘t see how CBS can stand pat at this stage of the game, and so I do think they will be doing whatever they have to do to establish what the facts are in this case.  And I am sure that they will respond to it. 

I do understand—and we have seen this so often, including in the media properties that I am involved with, “USA News and World Report,” “The Daily News”—we have these events happening over and over again.  People really come to believe in certain stories, even though there may be factual inaccuracies, and it takes a while to catch up to it and reverse that mind-set. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, gentlemen, stay with me.  We are going to be back with a lot more. 

And when we come back, did right-wing Internet bloggers play a role in the developing CBS News document scandal?  Dan Rather thinks so, and he thinks that it‘s journalists in pajamas that are pursuing him. 

We are going to be talking about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns, live from San Francisco. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Could conservative Internet bloggers bring down CBS News‘ Dan Rather?  We will talk about that right after a short break.

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to the show. 

We are talking about Dan Rather‘s growing scandal at CBS News about alleged forged documents. 

I want to go to Byron York right now. 

Byron, do you think Dan Rather got caught flat-footed when he went after these so-called pajama-wearing journalists who were Internet bloggers who obviously now may compose what may make up the new order in journalism? 

YORK:  Well, they certainly played a large role in this. 

As good as Michael Dobbs‘ story was in today‘s “Post,” a number of the issues, problems with the documents that he included in that story had been brought up earlier on the Internet.  There was—they were first raised on conservative Web site called FreeRepublic.  Another Web site called PowerLineBlog played a big role in this.

But I should say that the reason these things have taken off, these questions have taken off, is because that they are valid.  If it were some sort of way-out theorizing that sometimes one sees on right-wing and left-wing Web sites, it wouldn‘t have gone anywhere, so the reason it‘s working is because the bloggers had raised very legitimate questions about the authenticity of the documents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Byron, isn‘t CBS and Dan Rather also allowing this story to continue by just sitting out there, denying, denying? 

YORK:  You know...

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s amazing that there are so many journalists that say, it‘s not the underlying scandal that causes the problem.  It‘s the cover-up and the response to it.  Isn‘t CBS just prolonging their agony here? 

YORK:  I think their first response, Dan Rather‘s first response on the evening news Friday, I guess, was really a very big mistake.  It resembled nothing so much as a politician who has been caught in a scandal and ascribes partisan motive to his critics, picks out one criticism, answers it really inadequately, and then just ignores the rest. 

I think the whole thing had kind of a how-dare-you-question-us quality to it, and I think that obviously they had to come back Monday and give more information.  And I think it‘s still not over.  They are going to have to give still more. 

So, yes, I think their response has been a real mistake from the get-go. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think that first response, you are exactly right, where he blamed partisans, I thought it was almost Clintonian. 

I want to bring in right now Joseph Farah.  He‘s of course is the founder and editor of WorldNetDaily.com, a conservative Web site. 

I want to read you a quote from what Tony Blankley said today in today‘s “Washington Times.”  He wrote this: “As in all revolutions, first the old order must be destroyed.  Then we will learn both the strength and the shortcomings of the new order.  We got a glimpse of the Internet bloggers‘ strength this past week.  For three-quarters of a century, until last week, when CBS News had entered a fight, it had been an unfair mismatch for its adversary.  The credibility, research capacity and gatekeeping monopoly of CBS would overwhelm the victim.  But last week, it was breathtaking to see moment by moment the Internet blogger‘s advantage.”

Joe, do you think we are witnessing a historical change in the way Americans get their news? 

JOSEPH FARAH, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, WORLDNETDAILY.COM:  Absolutely, Joe. 

First, let me correct one thing.  WorldNetDaily is not a conservative news site.  We have never described ourselves that way.  That‘s probably how Dan Rather would describe us, however, so—but just for the record, we are not conservative.  We are the largest independent news site on the net. 

And, yes, look, Joe, you and I can remember not that long ago, there

was a day when NBC, CBS, and ABC were the only games in town.  That‘s where

people got their news from.  We are living in a whole new world now, where

you have got literally thousands of choices people can make to get their

news.  That‘s the beautiful thing of the Internet.  And

I will tell you, about this particular story that you are talking about, one of the secrets of the success of WorldNetDaily over the last seven years has been that we get an extraordinary number of leads from our readers.  Over six million readers have WorldNetDaily, and we get thousands of e-mails from them every single day, and we read them.  We have a relationship with our readers.  That‘s something that Dan Rather doesn‘t have. 

He has no relationship with the people who watch his program.  And he doesn‘t know what they are thinking about him anymore.  He doesn‘t know that they are laughing at him.  And this is the great advantage, one of the great advantages, the new media has over the old media. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Were you surprised at—go ahead. 

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  I‘m sorry.  Particularly, when you have got five or six million folks coming your way from four or five different continents, that‘s not exactly like a nice small Hillary Clinton village.  And the bigger folks like you grow, the bigger problems you are going to have in keeping in touch with those guys and understanding who the sources of some of the often misinformation you might get. 

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  If I can underscore something obvious...

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  It‘s Jim Warren. 

It‘s clear that power and control are moving away from a variety of old institutions in the society.  In your old realm of politics, I think we are seeing it very much this time in the campaign finance area.  Look at the explosion of 527s.  Compare it to when you got involved in politics, when you had to spend a whole lot of money on direct mail, and look at now basically the expense-free cost of generating millions of dollars in donations. 

I think that is perhaps more significant and the most significant development that we have seen.  But I would also caution folks that with this I think generally salutary, good multiplicity of new venues to get information, you also have a proliferation of pure, utter untrustworthy junk, and it‘s going to be a bigger and bigger challenge for folks on the left and right to figure out where to go to get the real deal on a variety of often very nuanced matters. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Joe Farah, let me—I‘ll give you a perfect example.  You can go to the Internet right now.  You can find numerous lies about John Kerry, numerous lies about George Bush.  You can certainly find some vicious lies about me and just about every other public figure.  Isn‘t it hard for people to sort—I mean, I get these junk e-mails every day from people saying all the horrible things that John Kerry has done or George W. Bush has done.  It is very hard, isn‘t it, to go to the Internet and figure out what‘s true and what‘s a rumor? 

FARAH:  Well, it depends where you go. 

And I think people are making the same kinds of choices on the Internet that they have made in print journalism, in broadcast journalism.  You give people choices to make and have some faith in the people.  They are going to make good choices, and the choices that they make are going to determine which of these entities survive. 

What we have done at WorldNetDaily is nothing magical.  We have applied the best of the old standards of the good old-fashioned American news media and we have taken them into a new medium, the Internet.  And I come out of the newspaper industry.  I spent 30 years running daily newspapers.  So I have all of that background.  And my very good, topnotch professional staff brings those same values to what we do every day at WorldNetDaily. 

And I know there are going to be a plethora of other sources of information like WorldNetDaily in the years to come. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Michael Dobbs, let me bring you back in here. 

Obviously, back in 1998, we can all remember—probably most of us can remember the night that Matt Drudge posted a story about an intern and the president.  He had gotten this information from “Newsweek,” a “Newsweek” source.  And, of course, “Newsweek” buried the story.  He broke it instead of Michael Isikoff. 

How much do you look at The Drudge Report and WorldNetDaily and NewsMax.com and also Internet blogging sites on the left and the right?  Obviously, in the newsroom, you are held to a very, very high standard.  But when you hear all this chatter going on, on the Internet, see all of it talking about Dan Rather, do you sort through that and say, well, that may be a good lead; I am going to pick up the phone and call this officer or that reporter or that person that knew Bush 30 years ago?  How do you sort through it all? 

DOBBS:  Well, on this story, I agree with Jim Warren, that there‘s a lot of good stuff on the Internet and there‘s a lot of junk. 

I go not by whether a Web site is left or right, but what kind of questions they are raising.  And the questions can be wild conspiracy theories, or in this case they were good questions, in my view, and it certainly stimulated the questions that we asked.  I wouldn‘t say it was the only source of the questions we asked, because we were generating internal doubts ourselves.  But what we read on the Internet and on the blogs certainly gave us fresh leads. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, John Stossel, there‘s a lot of questions right now about how Dan Rather got this information.  There‘s also some talk that there‘s too close of a tie between activists and journalists and news reporting outlets.  Do you think that‘s the case?  And do you think maybe an activist for John Kerry or the DNC may have slipped this information to Dan Rather? 

STOSSEL:  I would assume so.  There is a very cozy relationship between the mainstream media and the activist groups. 

You have people from the environmental groups who used to work for the networks.  Then they go back to the environmental groups.  I have worked with a producer who—with producers who worked for activists groups that say I should be fired and hate me.  In fact, I was attacked by some saying, he makes all this speech money.  What charities does he give it to? 

And I said, well, I‘ll give it to a legitimate journalist, not you.  Within two days, a number of legitimate journalists, including Jim Warren, called me, saying, where does this money go?  And I am not criticizing Jim.  I deserve to be checked out, too.  But it‘s a very comfortable relationship on the left, and groups on the right just don‘t have that with these journalists. 

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  Can I say a couple of things?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I want to ask Mort Zuckerman.

Mort, can you follow up on this question about the passing of information?  Do you think Dan Rather should come out and tell people where he got this information from, or should he do what Bob Novak said in the Joe Wilson dust-up and say, it‘s none of your business? 

ZUCKERMAN:  I think if Dan Rather got this on the basis of maintaining confidentiality, I believe he should maintain that confidentiality, and I am sure he will.  So I just don‘t think that that is something he will violate.  It‘s a cardinal principle of journalism, it seems to me, to maintain the confidentiality of the sources, if that‘s the commitment you made. 

Now, let me just also say, I think there are information flows going into every possible point on the political spectrum in the United States from all kinds of different sources.  I don‘t think it‘s any different on the left than on the right, or on the right than on the left.  It just comes in, in different directions, goes to different media. 

I am sure that Fox News and a lot of talk radio, which is probably 95 percent conservative, get a lot of information out of people who have, shall we say, a shared political view.  And the Pew Research Center indicated that more and more people are watching news media that they feel reflects their own political views, and I am sure that flow is in two ways where it can be in two ways.  So I don‘t think there‘s any difference because it‘s on the left or on the right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Mort.  We really appreciate you being here.  Appreciate you being here, Mort Zuckerman.

Of course, John Stossel, thanks, as always.  Jim Warren, Michael Dobbs, Joseph Farah, and, Byron York, great to have all of you with us tonight.

Now, coming up on next on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, are President Bush‘s recent financial proposals going to stimulate the economy or drive us deeper in debt?  We are going to be asking a man who has spent his life fighting for taxpayers, Grover Norquist.  And we‘re going to be talking to him when we return.

So don‘t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome back. 

A “Washington Post” story today estimated that President Bush‘s financial proposals would bury us in debt in the next decade by an additional $3 trillion.  Of course, John Kerry‘s proposals are even worse.  Now, this is a drum I have been beating for a long time.  And, of course, I have written a book called “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day: The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America.” 

And I want to bring in Grover Norquist, who is president of Americans For Tax Reform. 

Grover, thanks for being with us. 

You have been a champion of taxpayers for some time.  Tell me, don‘t you agree that this increasing deficit, this increasing debt, the Social Security crisis that we have facing us in the future is going to end up costing taxpayers trillions of dollars? 

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM:  First of all, it‘s a great book and it‘s a great read.  I just read it today in preparation for being with you now. 

The real challenge is total government spending.  And, in your book, you walk through how, while the Republicans in the House and Senate have got their arms around tax increases and have stopped any tax increase since Bill Clinton lost control of the House and the Senate after the ‘93 tax hike, the Republicans have not yet learned to discipline spending, runaway spending. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is that? 

NORQUIST:  Well, it‘s a very interesting question. 

Tax increases are binary choice.  They go up or they go down.  As you know, 95 percent of Republicans in the House and 80 percent of Republicans in the Senate have signed no-tax-increase pledge that Americans For Tax Reform shares with candidates and incumbents.  President Bush has signed the no-tax-increase pledge, and they are keeping that pledge. 

With spending, everyone touches the ball.  No one touched it last.  Nobody in Congress, not the president, wants the whole budget.  Everybody will point to the budget and say, well, I only wanted two-thirds of it.  But, somehow, the whole thing passes.  We don‘t have the accountability on spending that we have gotten on taxes. 

Very interesting, challenging question.  You raise some very good questions about term limits in various areas.  I think term-limiting people just simply being on the Appropriations Committee is a step towards greater accountability on spending. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, tell me, why hasn‘t George Bush, a guy that we both have supported, why hasn‘t he vetoed these big spending bills? 

NORQUIST:  You have a Republican House, and for some of the last three and a half years, a Republican Senate.  If you veto a bill, since he doesn‘t have line-item veto, if the House and Senate sticks something in the defense bill, you have to veto the entire bill to stop a little piece of it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Unfortunately, that‘s how it happens. 

Grover, stick with us. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Grover, give us your final thoughts. 

NORQUIST:  The first term of the Bush administration was about cutting taxes, getting the economy turned around, and the war against al Qaeda.  The next four years are going to be grappling with runaway spending.  And that includes reforming the bankrupt Social Security system. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Grover, I hope you are right, because if the president can accomplish that in the second term, then he has accomplished something that‘s extraordinarily important. 

Hey, Grover, we‘ll see you tomorrow night. 

And make sure you watch my good buddy Don Imus tomorrow morning.  He‘s going to be talking to John Kerry. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

END   

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