The Politics Of Accusations, Conspiracy Theories And Propaganda.

When FBI Director James Comey announced last week that the FBI was reviewing emails that could be pertinent to the Hillary Clinton case, it was quickly publicized by GOP congressmen as the FBI “re-opening the investigation of the Clinton private email server.” That, in fact, was untrue. The new announcement was referring to the discovery of emails on former congressman Anthony Wiener’s laptop which was shared with his wife, assistant to Clinton, that MAY have a bearing on the Clinton case – emphasis on MAY. The FBI had not yet read the emails in question – indeed it had no warrant to do so – so it could not conclude that the emails provided any new insights into the original case.

There was nothing to indicate a change in the FBI’s original conclusion that there was no evidence that Clinton had committed a crime, and no reason to prosecute the former Secretary of State. Yet the media and Republicans quickly turned Comey’s vague announcement into yet another unsubstantiated accusation against the Democratic presidential candidate.

That’s what the GOP and Donald Trump do best – make accusations against Hillary based on supposition, innuendo and wild conspiracy theories. And the media did what they do best – seeing a story that could increase ratings and readership, they pounced on it. Reading the headlines alone, one would have concluded that the FBI had found a smoking gun showing that Hillary was guilty of a crime. There were even headlines suggesting that she would be impeached should she win the White House! Following the sensational reports, the media then tried to backtrack in order to give the impression that they were functioning as real journalists. But the damage had already been done.

Before we all jump to conclusions, we should all do what the media should have done…take a deep breath and look at the facts.

For context, you should know that most levels of the federal government are technically challenged. Case in point: When President Obama took office, he wanted to continue to use a Blackberry so that he could manage all of his communications on a single device. The NSA originally told the president that his request could not be met. But, after much discussion, the NSA found a way to make it possible while keeping the president’s communications secure.

Upon her appointment to Secretary of State, Clinton asked for the same kind of system. But the NSA refused. So Clinton did something similar to what her predecessors had done. She chose to use her own email server in order to keep all of her unclassified communications on a single device – a server that she shared with her husband, a former president of the United States. (It should be noted that the server had been approved by the Secret Service and though the official State Department email system was hacked during Hillary’s tenure, there is no evidence to indicate that Clinton server was hacked.)

It is also important to note that all official State Department business is conducted by secured phones, diplomatic pouches or by wire. Emails are simply used for correspondence between State Department employees. And Hillary’s email was only used by her closest associates.

Given that it was well-known that Hillary intended to run for president again in 2016, it’s easy to see why her emails were of such curiosity to the GOP. It is equally easy to understand why she would delete any personal emails that would reveal details of her impending political campaign.

Though she has stated that she regrets using a private server and has publicly apologized for it, there is absolutely no indication that she compromised national security or broke the law. But her actions and the subsequent refusal of the FBI to recommend charges, have made for a good conspiracy theory invented by the GOP and reported by the sensation-seeking press.

In fact, it’s like all of the other GOP-created accusations against Clinton: Whitewater, Travelgate, Fostergate and Benghazigate. They all consist of wild accusations with little substance. That’s why, though the accusations have been thoroughly investigated at the cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer money, no charges have ever been filed.

Yet, based on the belief that where there’s smoke there’s fire, suspicion and innuendo fueled by Republicans and the media have hung over the Clintons like a cloud.

For some reason, the same kinds of suspicion are seldom applied to Republicans. For example, the four Republican congressmen who led the charge to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying under oath about his dalliance with a White House intern were, themselves, guilty of the very same kind of transgressions or worse. One, former Speaker Dennis Hastert, was found guilty of child molestation.

And during this presidential campaign, the very same people who yell “lock her up” at Trump rallies are more than willing to ignore even worse accusations about their own candidate. Donald Trump is facing multiple accusations of sexual assault, having even bragged about them in an off-camera recording. He is also accused of having highly questionable financial ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin. Worse, he is facing multiple legal cases against the Trump Foundation and Trump University. And, while Hillary is endorsed by virtually every major newspaper and media outlet in the US, Trump is endorsed by the KKK and the Alt-Right.

Further, Trump refuses to follow decades of precedence and release his tax returns. He has all but admitted that he used some highly questionable loopholes to avoid paying nearly a billion dollars in taxes. He has reported ties to the mob. Worst of all, he is being sued for raping a 13-year-old girl!

These aren’t mere accusations. These are charges of substance. And they make the accusations against Hillary pale in comparison. But, for some unexplained reason, instead of cringing in horror at the actions of the tangerine one, supposed Christians have circled the wagons around a candidate that violates every single value they claim to espouse.

Go figure.

Clinton More Trustworthy Than Media Or Trump.

Let’s be clear, like most politicians, Hillary has made statements that were later proven to be untrue. Still, fact-checking organizations have shown that she has actually made a greater percentage of true statements during the campaign than any of the other presidential candidates.

Hillary has also made several political decisions that were unpopular and later proven to be mistakes. For example, she voted to give George W. Bush the authorization to invade Iraq, if necessary. She permitted Ambassador Christopher Stevens to travel to Benghazi. And she chose to use a personal server – one that was shared with her husband, a former President of the United States – while serving as Secretary of State.

Yes, those decisions can be second-guessed. But, like many Senators, she did not necessarily expect the Bush administration to fabricate information that indicated Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. She could not have known that terrorists would attack the US compound in Benghazi given the fact that Stevens was both familiar with the situation and unafraid. And she likely didn’t expect that her use of a private email server to stay in touch with her subordinates (the State Department’s actual business is actually conducted through cables and phone calls) given the fact that her immediate predecessors – both Republicans – had also used private servers. (Ironically, the official State Department email server was hacked early in her term while her private server remained secure.)

However, my intent is not to serve as Hillary’s apologist. Rather, the purpose of this piece is to compare her trustworthiness with her Republican opponent and with those who helped his rise to the Republican nomination.

After all, with regard to truthfulness, the non-partisan fact-checker Politifact.com has noted that, out of 183 of Trump’s statements it has checked to date, 75 percent of the statements have been rated mostly false, false or “Pants on Fire.” Moreover, the organization noted that Trump has more statements rated as “Pants on Fire” than all of the other presidential candidates combined.

Only 5 of Trump’s statements (3 percent) were rated true.

By comparison, the website notes that 114 (51 percent) of 223 statements made by Hillary have been rated true or mostly true. Only 3 were rated “Pants on Fire.” In other words, she has told the truth more than twice as often as Trump! Given this comparison, why has Hillary been labeled untrustworthy while Trump has been labeled as someone who “tells it like it is?”

The level of trust in Trump is even more questionable given the fact that Trump is currently under investigation for fraud over his failed Trump “University.” Trump is also under investigation for tax fraud. And, despite his claims of success, he has filed for bankruptcy 6 times. Further, his ghostwriter for Art of the Deal has raised additional questions about Trump’s trustworthiness, saying, “If Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” Even Trump’s two previous wives found that he could not be trusted.

And, though Hillary has long been battered by allegations that she cannot be trusted, she has a long list of accomplishments to her credit. Indeed, she may be the most qualified presidential candidate ever. After her time as First Lady, she was a popular and effective Senator who was known to work across the aisle. She was a successful Secretary of State at a very difficult time in US history following the disastrous foreign policy of the Bush administration. And despite the nearly $100 million of taxpayer money spent by Republicans to investigate numerous trumped-up accusations (Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Fostergate, Benghazi and Emailgate), she has been cleared of all wrongdoing. Even when the FBI Director, a Republican favorite, stated that “no charges are appropriate” in the case of Hillary’s use of a private server for public business, Republicans have refused to accept his judgment. They were not even persuaded when General Colin Powell, a Republican and former Secretary of State, stated that none of Hillary’s emails were classified when she sent them. And he went much further, saying that no such emails should be classified.

Yet following Chris Christie’s persecution…er…prosecution of Hillary on stage at the Republican National Convention, the GOP rabble turned into a lynch mob screaming “Lock her up.” Others have suggested that she should be hung or worse. Such comments should make one wonder, “Am I still in the United States, or have I been transported to Turkey, Syria or the Islamic State?”

Complicit in such behavior and Trump’s rise to the head of the party are the media. For years, rightwing radio (more than 90 percent of talk radio programming) has fomented distrust of the federal government and fear of the “other.” In search of higher ratings, broadcast news has focused on violent crimes even as they have dramatically decreased in the US.

The media has largely ignored the inequities in the treatment of blacks versus whites by law enforcement. The media has also ignored the racial disparity in education and opportunity. And the media fell all over themselves to cover Trump’s campaign while ignoring others. For example, in Phoenix, the leading TV station devoted the first 12 and a half minutes of its 10 PM newscast to Trump’s first visit. Yet, when Senator Sanders visited a few weeks later, they gave him a 20-second story more than 8 minutes into the newscast despite the fact that Bernie drew a crowd nearly 3 times that of Trump’s.

By now, Trump has received nearly $3 billion in free publicity! And that number is still climbing.

One suspects that the media’s ultimate goal is to help Trump get elected so they can sensationalize his fall from grace. It might be a great spectacle and great for ratings. But it would be unbelievably destructive for our nation.

There’s one way to avoid that possibility: Trust Hillary!

The Difficulty Of Disproving A Negative.

Once again, the Clintons have found themselves in the unenviable position of disproving negatives. Over more than 35 years, the GOP has accused them of wrongdoing and, when they have tried to prove their innocence, they have been labeled liars. According to the GOP, Bill lied about Gennifer Flowers. The GOP claims that the Clintons lied about Whitewater, about Travelgate, and about Vince Foster’s suicide. The GOP accuses Hillary of lying about Benghazi; of Bill’s motivation for meeting with Loretta Lynch. And conservatives are certain that Hillary lied about her use of a personal email server.

All of this has placed Hillary in the unenviable position of proving that she is not a liar. Even when she provides credible responses to the accusations, the GOP claims that, no matter what she says, she cannot be trusted. It doesn’t matter that there were attacks on US embassies in virtually every other administration. It doesn’t matter that both of the Secretaries of State who preceded Hillary also used private email servers during their terms. It doesn’t matter that both Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell deleted their emails from their time with the State Department. It doesn’t matter that the Bush administration funneled White House emails through the server at the Republican National Committee, then claimed that more than 22 million of government emails had been lost. It doesn’t matter that fact-checking services have found that Hillary has told the truth more than any of the candidates in the presidential race.

The unrelenting accusations have worked.

Despite having been the subjects of prolonged investigations costing a sum that must now be approaching $100 million, the only thing the GOP has been able to prove is that Bill was the recipient of oral sex from a young White House intern.

The GOP seems to have convinced much of the public that the Clintons can’t be trusted. Voters have heard the sound bites. They have read the accusations. But they don’t have time to read the explanations. They don’t have the patience for nuances.

Never mind that the last time the US created a budget surplus was under the Clinton administration. Never mind that the economy was booming during those years. Never mind that Hillary repaired US relations with allies that had been fractured during the Bush administration. Never mind that she helped open normal relations with some of our previous enemies. The Republicans and the ratings-obsessed news media have said that she’s a liar. Therefore, many of the voters plan to vote for Trump.

After all, Trump “tells it like it is.” More precisely, Trump tells it the way that angry white people and those disillusioned by decades of congressional gridlock caused by the GOP want to think it is.

It doesn’t seem to matter to them that Trump has resorted to making truthful statements only a tiny fraction of the time. It doesn’t seem to matter that he’s a proven con-man. It doesn’t matter that he gleefully incites racial hatred. It doesn’t matter that he has long-time connections to the mob. It doesn’t matter that he has been accused of fraud with regard to Trump University. It doesn’t matter that he is a misogynist. It doesn’t matter that he has been accused of sexual assault. It doesn’t matter that he has filed for bankruptcy at least 4 times. It doesn’t matter that he has been involved in more than 4,000 lawsuits and counting. It doesn’t matter that the few concrete policies he has proposed are blatantly unconstitutional and would add more than $1.6 trillion to the national debt. It doesn’t matter that many economists are convinced that he would collapse the world economy. It doesn’t matter that the leaders of other nations, including our allies, are frightened at the prospect of a President Trump.

What matters to them most is that Hillary used a private email server as Secretary of State and the GOP said that was wrong. So they’re going to vote for Trump. Un-freaking-believable!

Scandals That Weren’t.

Since Teapublicans took control of the House in 2011, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Paul Gosar and other extremists have conducted a barrage of hearings with the intent of exposing the misdeeds of the Obama administration. They began by examining government loans made to administration “loyalists” at Solyndra, a start-up manufacturer of solar panels. They moved on to the failed ATFE “gun-running” program in Arizona. After that it was Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, interrupted briefly by IRS scrutiny of conservative “non-profits.” Finally, they turned to the Ebola crisis.

After dozens of hearings, numerous investigations and millions of dollars in expenses, here’s what they found:

The loans to Solyndra were initiated during the George W. Bush administration and finalized during the first year of the Obama administration. The company failed when faced with competition financed, in part, by the Chinese government. And, instead of losing millions as Teapublicans claimed, the government actually made a $5 billion profit on the sale of Solyndra’s assets.

Though Issa and his Teapublican investigations found that Fast & Furious resulted in hundreds of guns being trafficked across the border into Mexico; and though Teapublicans blamed the Department of Justice, calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder; the facts show that the blame was entirely misplaced. Yes, the ATFE allowed guns to cross the border with hopes of tracking them to the leaders of Mexican drug cartels. But, thanks to Arizona’s loose gun laws, guns have been trafficked across the border for decades. Fast & Furious was created out of frustration with the courts’ refusal to allow charges against so-called straw buyers. The hope was that, by tracking the guns, the ATFE would be able to disrupt the pipeline of illegal weapons.

With regard to Benghazi, contrary to an endless stream of Teapublican propaganda, 7 non-partisan investigations have found absolutely no wrongdoing by the administration or anyone else. There were no orders for rescuers to stand down. And absolutely no evidence of an administration cover-up. It was simply an unexpected and spontaneous attack by terrorists resulting in the deaths of 4 Americans…the kind of attack that led to many more deaths in American embassies under previous administrations. Yet, despite the findings of 7 investigations, Teapublicans are still insisting on spending millions more for yet another investigation by a “select” committee of Teapublican fools.

As for the IRS scandal, there is little evidence of wrong-doing. Yes, Lois Lerner and her IRS colleagues compiled a list of watch words indicating a political committee disguised as a charitable non-profit in order to ferret out those intent on skirting election laws to flood political campaigns with dark money. Yes, that list included numerous words used by Teapublican groups. And, yes, more Teapublican groups were subjected to extra scrutiny by the IRS. But it is also true that, thanks to the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires, more Teapublican groups had applied for non-profit status than Democratic groups. Moreover, following a series of questionable Supreme Court decisions, Lerner’s IRS department was overwhelmed with such requests. And none of the groups affected were denied such status.

Finally, the Teapublican’s weakest attempt to scaremonger was the Ebola “scandal.” So far, only two people have died of the disease in the US. And though it appears that the Dallas hospital was ill-prepared to deal with the disease, the CDC and NIH quickly responded. There have been no further events and no “epidemic” despite the fact that Teapublicans dramatically cut the budget for the Center for Disease Control, making it unable to conduct necessary research.

And what were the Obama administration’s failures in all of these scandals? None. Yet, thanks to Teapublican control of Congress, the investigations, and the propaganda, will continue.

UPDATE: It is estimated that the direct costs of investigations by Issa’s committee have exceeded more than $26 million to date. The indirect costs of the time needed to provide thousands of documents in compliance with the committee’s demands may have exceeded $1 trillion.

Just Politics?

Last week, the GOP unleashed its new election strategy. Not only did they vote for a “select” congressional committee with 7 Republicans and 5 Democrats to investigate Benghazi yet again (there have already been a total of 13 Congressional hearings, 50 Congressional briefings, 25,000 pages of findings, and numerous media investigations – all with the same result – there was no wrongdoing by the administration). They voted to hold former IRS agent, Lois Lerner, in contempt for invoking the Fifth Amendment and vowed to continue to investigate the already debunked claim that the IRS unfairly targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny.  And they continue to claim that the Obama administration was somehow involved in Fast & Furious.

Of course, with all of this on their minds, the Teapublican-controlled House of Representatives (Isn’t it amazing how misleading that name now seems?) will have little time left to address the needs of the nation. Oh, they’ll find enough time to vote for more corporate welfare and to vote yet again to defund “Obamacare.” They’ll also likely vote for even more investigations intended to embarass the president. Numerous Teapublican leaders have even used the “I” word (impeachment) to rile up their base and ensure a strong Teapublican turnout for this November’s midterm elections.

When confronted by news media over the party’s obvious cynicism and divisive tactics, Teapublican leaders dismissed the issues as “just politics.” Seriously? Is this what now substitutes for a government of the people, by the people and for the people? To win at any cost? To filibuster every bill the other party introduces? To block virtually every nomination? To foment hate and divisiveness?

The whole notion of our two-party system was one of loyal opposition – that the two parties would compete for office based on ideas and what’s best for the nation. Then, following the elections, they would legislate and manage the nation based on those ideals. They could disagree, but they would work with the interests of the people in mind. How does the Teapublican determination to pursue bizarre conspiracy theories fit into that notion? How does that justify the use of government committees to destroy opponents rather than to help the nation? How does the Teapublican strategy of blatantly attempting to turn our citizenry against one another help our nation?

I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, so I could appreciate the compassion of the Democratic Party and its efforts to eliminate poverty and to help those in need. Likewise, I could appreciate traditional Republicans who focused on keeping taxes low and eliminating waste. Over the years, the goals and strategies of the Democratic Party are relatively unchanged. But the Republican Party no longer exists. It has been replaced with a hate-based, anti-government, win-at-any-cost group of sociopaths. It’s a party that panders to the wealthy and the powerful; that has never seen a military expenditure it didn’t like; that would give large corporations free reign to destroy our environment and defraud citizens; that will vote for any form of corporate welfare while taking food out of the mouths of single moms and children. It’s a party that can’t win on the strength of its ideas, so it resorts to dirty tricks, voter suppression and under-the-table campaign contributions.

Today’s Republican Party bears little resemblence to the party of Abraham Lincoln. It’s much more like the party of Joseph McCarthy.

Has Our Education System Failed Teapublicans?

Over the last several years, it has become obvious that Republicans and their Tea Party Parasites lack basic comprehension skills. For example, when the President made a speech talking about the role of government, he said, “…look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

It was obvious that President Obama was referring to the fact that businesses benefit from government-provided infrastructure. But Teapublicans couldn’t grasp that. All they heard was “you didn’t build that.”

Likewise, during a lengthy Senate hearing on Benghazi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had tired of answering the same loaded questions over what led to the attack on the consulate, she finally said, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they would go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information.”

Teapublicans failed to comprehend the content of her testimony. All they heard was “what difference does it make?”

More recently, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that, among other things, noted the impact of the Affordable Care Act (for you Teapublicans, that’s “Obamacare”) on the labor market. The CBO report stated that the ACA would result in as many as 2.5 million people voluntarily leaving their full-time jobs because they would no longer be bound to those jobs for employer-based health insurance. The impact, according to the CBO, is that up to 2.5 million jobs openings would be created by 2024.

Teapublicans, of course, failed to comprehend the report. They believed that 2.5 million jobs would be lost…not created…and immediately labeled the ACA a “job killer.”

No wonder theTeapublicans are so angry all the time. They seem to lack the basic hearing and reading skills to comprehend the spoken word and written reports. Obviously, our education system has failed them.

What Next For “60 Minutes?”

60 Minutes was founded as a weekly news show from the premier broadcast news organization. The idea was that, as a news program with a full hour to devote to a few stories, it would have the time to thoroughly investigate issues and report beyond the headlines. It became a huge success. For decades, Mike Wallace, Harry Reasoner, Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer, Dan Rather, Morley Safer and others broke stories of real substance, even when the subjects of the stories refused to cooperate.

Unfortunately, the program now seems a shadow of its former self.

In a short, ten week span, Lara Logan and Leslie Stahl showed us what happens when a reporter lacks a real curiosity for the subject matter and fails to follow the disciplines of basic reporting. Maybe they were deceived. Maybe they succumbed to the charm of their interview subjects. More likely they approached the story with preconceived notions. Whatever the reason, they turned in reports unworthy of those who established the once-proud tradition of CBS News and 60 Minutes.

Logan later apologized for her false story on Benghazi, and was given a leave of absence from the network. Stahl, however, has not commented on criticisms of her shallow and misleading story on “Clean Tech.” She was given no time off. And this past week she returned to the type of story for which I believe she is better suited…fluff. Her report on those who have superior autobiographical memory is the kind of insipid story at which she truly excels. Indeed, it was the kind of story best-suited for the new 60 Minutes…a story that requires no real reporting. No complicated technologies to grasp. No requirement to investigate and vet sources. No nuances of international politics.

The question is, were the recent failures solely the fault of the reporters? Or were they the failure of network management? Time will tell. In the meantime, I find myself missing the insightful reporting of Andy Rooney, he of large eyebrows who filed investigative reports about his shoes or the contents of his office. In many ways, he displayed better journalistic instincts than some of the show’s most recent stories.

A Sad Episode Of “60 Minutes.”

When I was in journalism school a long time ago, CBS was rightfully used as an example of great journalism. Such industry giants as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Robert Trout, Harry Reasoner, Eric Sevareid, Roger Mudd, Charles Kuralt, Mike Wallace, Robert Pierpoint, Howard K. Smith, Douglas Edwards, Ed Bradley, and Daniel Schorr were part of the world’s premier news organization. They were idolized for their impartiality and determination to get at the truth.

Since those halcyon days, CBS News has sunk to such lows that journalism schools may now use its 60 Minutes report on Benghazi as an example of what not to do.

Lara Logan’s story was fraught with holes, inconsistencies and outright lies. Apparently Logan and the 60 Minutes crew were determined to break a sensational story that would expose some sort of cover-up by the Obama administration. Certainly, the story was sensational. It was also false.

In filing the report, CBS News broke some of the most basic rules that are taught to would-be reporters in Journalism 101. There were so many red flags, it’s astounding that an editor, any editor, would agree to air the report, let alone make it the lead story on the telecast. First, the “source” (independent contractor Dylan Davies) asked to be given an asumed name (Morgan Jones) for protection, yet he agreed to appear on camera making it easy to identify him. Second, Davies admitted to the reporter(s) that he had lied to his employers when asked if he had reached the US consulate during the attack. Third, it was known that Davies had also shopped a manuscript of his tale to a book publisher.

To most experienced reporters any one of these issues would place the source’s credibility in question.

Finally, and more important, Davies’ testimony was in direct contradiction with what was already known about the events in Benghazi. It not only contradicted accounts by the State Department, the Department of Defense and the Obama administration. It contradicted reports from independent groups empaneled to investigate the matter. This should have caused CBS News to seek further corraboration. At very least, it should have caused the network to do much more investigation before running with the story. But it seems, CBS News and 60 Minutes were more intent on exposing or, more accurately, creating a scandal.

The only scandal they created centered on their failure to accurately present the news.

Yet the most astonishing aspect of this sorry mess is that CBS News chairman, Jeff Fager, stood by the story after serious questions were raised. Indeed, he used the fact that Davies had previously lied (not once, but twice) as evidence of his credibility!

Not until CBS News became aware that Davies had told a different story during his testimony to the FBI, did Fager and CBS News start to question Davies’ credibility. Seriously, CBS? No one in your news organization thought to check out your source? No one thought to read the volumes of testimony on the events at Benghazi? No one thought to ask the administration, the State Department or others for a rebuttal? The editor of my college newspaper would have fired me for less.

Of course, CBS News did pull the story from its website several days after it aired. And it apparently arranged for Lara Logan to apologize for the story during her appearance on CBS This Morning. It also has stated that it will correct the story on an upcoming 60 Minutes. That may undo some of the political damage from the story. But it won’t undo the damage done to the proud reputation of CBS News.

All of this is painfully ironic when you consider the network’s actions following Dan Rather’s report on the favoritism shown to George W. Bush during his service in the Air National Guard. If you remember, Rather presented documents showing that Bush had gone AWOL and never served the remainder of his enlistment. When the veracity of those documents was questioned, CBS News hung Rather out to dry. Three producers were fired and Rather left the network shortly afterward with his career in tatters. Yet, since that time, it has been determined that the documents could have been authentic, and that Bush likely was AWOL.

Maybe this time, instead of punishing the reporter(s), the network should fire Fager and the editor(s) who failed to question the Benghazi story. Maybe it should commit to raising its news standards. Maybe it should ask itself, “What would Edward R. Murrow do?”

UPDATE: Lara Logan gave a “correction” at the end of a “60 Minutes” telecast in which she admitted to errors. Given the fact, that her apology was at the very end of the program and lasted only 90 seconds, there’s only one word that adequately characterizes the “correction”: LAME!

Logan did not explain why the network chose to give so much credibility and air time to an admitted liar who was looking to cash in by selling his story to a book publisher. She failed to explain why CBS did so little investigation. And she did not explain why CBS chose to give the “correction” so little time and attention.

It’s Difficult To Disprove A Negative.

Whenever someone accuses the government of a scandal, it’s almost impossible to disprove it. That’s because the accusation makes headlines. The truth doesn’t.

Nobody understands this principle better than Teapublicans.

When Bill Clinton was elected to the White House, he was forced to disprove a constant wave of scandals created by the GOP. Now it’s President Obama’s turn. That’s why we’ve seen a flurry of scandalous accusations about Fast & Furious, drones, Benghazi, the IRS, and NSA.

The headlines have been damning – based on outrageous claims by Rep. Darrell Issa, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Mitch McConnell and others. The truth has been less interesting.

For example, Issa made claims that Fast & Furious was a large scale gun-running operation overseen by Attorney General Eric Holder. The reality is that it was a small localized operation by a unit of the ATFE frustrated by Arizona’s lax gun laws and the inability to prosecute straw buyers.

Issa and others made the sensational claim that the president and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ignored the danger to diplomats in Libya then covered up their failures. The reality is that Ambassador Stevens twice rejected increased security and the talking points released by Susan Rice were crafted by the CIA and mid-level State Dept. officials.

Teapublicans claim that IRS scrutiny of Tea Party organizations seeking nonprofit status was orchestrated by the White House and President Obama. The truth is, the IRS director was a Bush appointee and, according to testimony by an IRS supervisor in charge (who is, incidentally, a self-described conservative Republican), the scrutiny of Tea Party groups was not ordered by the administration and was not politically motivated.

Teapublicans and many Democrats claim that NSA collection of data demonstrates that President Obama is an authoritarian fascist operating in defiance of the 4th amendment of the Constitution. The truth is, the NSA program began immediately following 9/11 and the Obama administration reigned it in, eliminating warrantless wiretaps and clearing the collection of data through the FISA court and Congress. Interestingly, the people of Europe were aware of our program long before Snowden’s revelations and the overwhelming majority approve of it.

All of this proves that, now that our press is driven by ratings and sensationalism rather than a desire to inform, unscrupulous politicians can take advantage of it. And no politicians are more unscrupulous than today’s Republican Party.

The Benghazi “Smoking Gun” Goes Up In Smoke.

Just when Darrell Issa and his melodramatic, partisan witch hunters thought they found the “smoking gun” showing malfeasance by the Obama administration with regard to Benghazi, they found that the “gun” was aimed at them.

On Tuesday, ABC News reported to have found an email showing that the State Department crafted the talking points for Ambassador Susan Rice’s appearance on Sunday morning news shows in order to cover up its incompetence. Issa’s committee immediately jumped on it as if it was catnip and they were a herd of crazed cats.

Then other news organizations examined copies of the original email and found that it had been misquoted by ABC. It seems ABC had been given an altered version of the email by an undisclosed “source” – most likely Issa.

Oops!

A day later, CBS reported that Republicans had altered several White House emails regarding Benghazi in order to make the emails appear damaging to the White House and the State Department.

Double oops!!

In addition, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering refuted claims by Issa’s committee that he had refused to testify, publicly stating that he had offered to testify before the committee but was turned down.

Triple oops!!!

Then McClatchy newspapers reported that the late Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens had, on at least two occasions before the Benghazi attack, refused offers from military personnel for additional security for the consulate.

Quadruple oops!!!!

So after months of sensational reports and accusations that the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton were negligent in protecting the consulate in Libya and conspired to cover up their incompetence, the only ones who appear to be involved in a conspiracy and cover-up are Rep. Issa and his torch and pitchfork crowd.