Could it be that CBS and Rather wanted to take Bush down a peg — especially given the questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam service raised by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?

And could it be that CBS and Rather let their well-documented political leanings overrule their journalistic sense? Have they become just another hack voice in the political game?

Sadly, the answer seems to be yes. CBS’ bias made it vulnerable to a hoax that fit nicely with the network’s left-leaning culture. . . .

It now appears CBS made a grievous mistake or knowingly relayed false information. If so, what credibility does it have left? Even an on-air correction won’t undo the damage.

CBS would go a lot further in restoring its credibility if it at least checked into the source and authenticity of the memos.

If it’s shown that Democrats or the Kerry campaign are the source — as suggested by comments to the American Spectator by an unnamed Kerry staffer — CBS better say so.

If the documents prove to be forgeries, resignations from Rather and CBS News President Andrew Heyward would be in order — along with a sweeping review of ethical practices at a once-proud news organization.


UPDATE: An observation: “With the New York Times reporting that a key 60 Minutes source has turned on CBS, their earlier decision to ‘stand by their story’ has doubled a bet on a losing hand.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Steele emails from Palo Alto:

CBS is full of smart people. It makes no sense to say they’re stalling because they believe these things are genuine. They know what we all know. They are stalling to get their ducks in a row:

They are speaking to lawyers to see if a crime has been committed.

They are speaking to lawyers to see if they can/must/may disclose the source.

They are speaking to lawyers to see if they must make disclosure in their SEC filings.

They are speaking internally to see who will resign.

They are speaking internally to see how they will word their retraction.

All that takes time. That is why CBS hasn’t updated anything on this for too long. That is why their intitial counter-attacks (e.g., the first version of Times New Roman was invented in 1931), which are obviously inadequate, aren’t being buttressed by anything new.

As a news organization and as a publicly traded company, they can’t issue half-truths once they suspect what really happened. They are getting ready to make all their announcements at once.

Within 48 hours, CBS will come clean with a noise rivaling the disappearance of Krakatoa.

Let’s synchronize our watches and see if he’s right. By the way, several readers have emailed to ask if CBS shareholders could file a derivative suit against CBS management, charging them with damaging the company by publishing forgeries. I forwarded one of those emails to Prof. Bainbridge — who actually works in that area of law — and he’s posted an item on this subject. He thinks there’s basically no chance of such an action succeeding.

MORE: Hmm. I don’t quite know what to make of this.

STILL MORE: Craig Henderson emails:

The real reason is that it takes time to create far better, professionally produced unbreakable forgeries, which implicate Karl Rove.

Within 48 hours they will “unearth” them.

At this point, nobody’s going to buy “newly discovered documents.” Well, nobody but Kos, anyway.