Impact of Media on Politics
The role media plays in politics is undeniable. Our soundbite culture with its inherent limited attention span dictates a “McNugget” of information. Unfortunately this often leads to misrepresentations being accepted as fact. A glaring example of this was the Killian documents controversy. In September 2004, the CBS program 60 Minutes Wednesday aired a report critical of President George W. Bush's service in the United States National Guard. The four documents included criticisms of Bush's service in the Guard during the 1970s. These documents were supposedly created by Bush's commander, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian. It was also reported that the documents were obtained by a CBS News producer from Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, a former officer in the Texas Army National Guard (TexARNG). During the report, Dan Rather asserted the documents had been authenticated by experts hired by CBS News. Within hours of the broadcast, several internet forums and blogs were bombarded with postings from forensic document examiners. Assertions were made questioning the discrepencies in the typography and the content. For instance, one of these experts recreated the exact text of one of the memos on a Microsoft Word document. He ran a copy on the copier, then copied that copy. He continued this process 13 times with the final blurred result being an exact match to the supposedly authentic memo. Eventually, a number of these experts concluded that the memos were indeed forged documents. For two weeks, Dan Rather and CBS defended the authenticity of the documents. Finally on September 20, 2004, Rather stated, "If I knew then what I know now – I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.” (Wikipedia, 2006). This whole event occurred less than two months before the incredibly contentious 2004 Presidential Election, which leads one to believe this was a deliberate attempt...
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