Urbin Report

Friday, September 10, 2004

Rathergate Part 3

A few interesting points found at The Belmont Club:

The Ben Barnes interview by Dan Rather set the table for the introduction of the phony memos about George Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. The story line was: rich boy got undeserved special treatment, performed poorly, and lied about it ever since. Hence the credibility of Ben Barnes in that interview is important.

We already know that Barnes is the #3 Kerry contributor through bundling, and that Barnes has a past full of scandals, including allegations by federal prosecutors that Barnes bribed a lottery company executive to the tune of $500,000. These are issues that go to Barnes’ credibility. However, we didn’t learn these things from Dan Rather.

Nor did we learn about Dan Rather’s personal fund raising efforts on behalf of the Travis County Democratic Party, where Ben Barnes sits on the Finance Council. Rather raised $20,000 for the organization on March 21, 2001. Rather has extensive personal ties to Travis county: he owns a home in the Austin area, and his daughter Robin, an environmentalist and marketing executive, is said to have considered running for mayor of Austin as a Democrat. Rather has sometimes now said that he attended the fundraiser as a favor to his daughter, but he told Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post on April 4, 2001 that he agreed to appear “at the invitation of an old friend, Austin City Council member Will Wynn.” Rather’s appearance at a Democratic Party fundraiser was contrary to the official policies of CBS and most of the MSM.

Now, three years later, Rather interviewed the same fellow without disclosing the reporter’s previous involvement in raising money for the Democratic Party of Travis County, or his other, even larger, conflict of interest. If Robin Rather wants to have a future in Democratic politics in Austin, she needs the support of Ben Barnes and the other movers and shakers among Travis County Democrats, including those on the Finance Council.

Dan Rather had no business conducting the interview with Ben Barnes because of his extensive conflicts of interests. Since he chose to do the interview anyway, at a minimum he should have disclosed his conflicts, or CBS should have done so for him.

The weakest point in the talking points:

The disobeyment of a direct order.

This would require Bush's signature on the initial order and plenty of other paper work if the order was actually disobeyed.

i.e. a paper trail with other signatures besides Killian's.