September 30, 2004

INDC talks to CBS' Richard Schlesinger over the draft lie story

CBS News has taken a set of e-mails that have been proven to be false and urban legend, and run with them as if they were true. The e-mails insist that the government is planning to reinstate the draft as soon as next June.

CBS' story plays on the fears of many youth in the nation, even though President Bush's campaign, along with many on Capitol Hill have insisted that there is no draft in the offing. President Bush's campaign has gone as far as to say that the volunteer military that the United States has in place works well enough.

Bill at INDC Journal talked to CBS correspondent Richard Schlesinger, who reports the story.

Schlesinger: "The point of the piece was taking look at issues through the eyes of people who feel that those issues are the most important ... in the campaign. People who are vitally concerned. We've done many of these stories on many topics. I did another one
around affordable housing ... and minimum wage, for example."

INDC: "A lot of people have a problem with this issue though, because it's specifically something that's been used by the Kerry campaign as a recent talking point. Did this influence ..."

Schlesinger: "No, it was an issue because it was out there. There are issues that we choose to do stories on ... I specifically said in the story, 'both candidates have said they would not support a reinstatement of the draft.'"

INDC: "Probably the main concern with the story is that the e-mails that are shown in the piece are false; they've been debunked on various internet sites long ago ..."

Schlesinger: "The fact is, they were going around. I know several people that got them, and it’s gotten people all riled up. Whether or not there’s any reality to there being a draft, is almost besides the point. Do I think there’s going to be a draft? No. But it's
an issue that people are talking about."

Bill also talked to others at CBS News about their handling of the story, and one major point that came out is that the mother interviewed in the piece, Beverly Cocco, is not just an "average citizen or voter," but a chapter president for People Against The Draft, an advocacy group with a proverbial axe to grind, and an agenda to get out. CBS did not disclose this in Schlesinger's report.
INDC: "Ok, another complaint regards the testimony from Beverly Cocco. Some people are pointing out that she's a chapter president for an advocacy group called People Against the Draft, that seems to have a clearly anti-war position. How did you choose her?"

Schlesinger: "Long story short, she’s a Republican. When we put the story together, I went looking for a Republican. We worked
backwards from the e-mail, that’s how we found her. She told me that she was going to vote for Bush, though she said she may flip-flop."

A CBS spokesperson contradicts Schlesinger's assertion, insisting that Cocco was a "one issue voter" and that she was "undecided."

On top of that, there is evidence (thanks to the magic of Google's cache) that CBS has altered its' report in order to include Cocco's connection -- after bloggers caught their faux pas.

So which is it, CBS? And why not let everyone know that Cocco has an agenda of her own? Is it because you have your own agenda?

It sounds to me like CBS has gotten their hands caught in the cookie jar once again.

CBS News' ratings continue to plummet as viewers find less partisan alternatives to their evening news. Like Entertainment Tonight. At least with ET, you know you're getting fluff.

Posted by mhking at September 30, 2004 07:42 AM
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