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Quote of the Day
September 28, 2004
As Bush's lead in Florida continued to shrink, Dan Rather decided to put it back in his "undecided" column. The networks' withdrawal of their Florida prediction disrupted and confused the crowd outside Bush's campaign headquarters:
"Well, Bill Whitaker, you can tell them we welcome them to the club because frankly we don't know whether to run, to watch or bark at the moon."
--Election coverage, November 8, 2000.
Daniel Irvin Rather must be a masochist. You'd think that in the midst of the terrible publicity he is currently getting for working closely with a partisan Democrat bent on bringing down President Bush that Dan Rather would have the good sense to lay off the liberal bias for a while. But common sense seems to be in short supply at CBS News these days.
Three weeks after he denounced the internet as being "filled with rumors," the embattled CBS anchor ran a story on his Tuesday "Evening News" program hoping to stir up fear of an impending military draft.
In a story that was a textbook example of slipshod reporting, CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger used debunked internet hoax emails and an unlabeled interest group member to scare elderly "Evening" viewers into believing that the U.S. government is poised to resume the draft.
At the center of Schlesinger's piece was a woman named Beverly Cocco, a Philadelphia woman who is "sick to my stomach" that her two sons might be drafted. In his report, Schlesinger claimed that Cocco was a Republican and portrayed her as an apolitical (even Republican) mom worried about the future.
Schlesinger did not disclose that Cocco is a chapter president of an advocacy group called People Against the Draft (PAD) which, in addition to opposing any federal proscription, seeks to establish a "peaceful, rational foreign policy" by bringing all U.S. troops out of Iraq. Like Schlesinger's Cocco, the group portrays itself as "nonpartisan"although its leadership seems to be entirely bereft of any Republicans.
The group's domain is registered to a man named Jacob Levich, a left-wing activist who in a 2001 essay compared the Bush Administration to the totalitarian government portrayed in George Orwell's 1984.
PAD also lists Anita Dutt, a Green Party activist who is also a member of an anti-war group called Bronx Action for Justice and Peace. In a March 3, 2003 New York Times profile of the group reprinted on the organization's web site, Heidi Hynes, one of its leaders, said of her fellow members that "none of us are Republicans."
Also left out of the CBS story was the fact that while there are two bills in Congress that are seeking to reestablish the draft, both of them (S-89 and HR-163) are sponsored exclusively by Democrats and have been pronounced DOA by the Republican leadership.
Much more on this to come but in the mean time, click read more to see the transcript or watch the clip by clicking on the picture to the right.
DAN RATHER: It's no secret: The all- volunteer U.S. Military, especially the Army, Marines and many reserve units, are stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan. So what about bringing back the draft? A lot of Americans are worried about that. Where do the presidential candidates stand? CBS's Richard Schlesinger tells you in the "Eye on America" election series, "What does it mean to you?"
SCHLESINGER: Beverly Cocco has spent most of her life protecting children in Philadelphia.
(Footage of Cocco in job as crossing guard)
SCHLESINGER: She usually worries about other people's kids.
(Footage of Cocco in job as crossing guard)
SCHLESINGER: But as Election Day approaches, it's her own two grown sons who Beverly is most worried about.
BEVERLY COCCO ("Pennsylvania Voter"): I go to bed every night and I pray, and I actually get sick to my stomach. I'm very worried. I'm scared. I'm absolutely scared. I'm petrified.
SCHLESINGER: Beverly is petrified about a military draft, and she's not alone. Mass e-mails are circulating among worried parents. But neither president bush nor john kerry has said he will re- institute the draft. In fact, they both say they will not.
Sen. JOHN KERRY (Democratic presidential candidate): I will give us a foreign policy that absolutely makes it unnecessary to have a draft for this country.
SCHLESINGER: Kerry says he'll try to get allies of the U.S. to send troops that could relieve American soldiers in Iraq. The Bush Administration says that is pure fantasy. The president wants to train more Iraqi troops to take over for the Americans.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: The war on terror will continue. It's going to take a while and no, we don't need a draft.
SCHLESINGER (voiceover): But Beverly's not buying it. She's a Republican, but she's also a single issue voter.
(on-camera) Would you vote for a Democrat?
COCCO: Absolutely. I would vote for Howdie Doody if I thought it would keep my boys home and safe.
SCHLESINGER (voiceover): In fact, there are at least three votes in this house riding on the draft: Beverly's and her sons,' Carmen [sic] and Nick.
(on-camera) Are you guys worried about being drafted?
NICK COCCO (College senior): Yeah. It's the talk. The talk's there. Though people aren't actually coming out and saying it, it's, it's there.
SCHLESINGER: The machinery for a draft is already in place and the acting director of Selective Service believes he could start drafting people quickly.
JACK MARTIN (Selective Service System): I think we could do it in less than six months if we got the call.
SCHLESINGER: This time there would be no long deferments for college students and a lot more people could be eligible for the draft than ever before. Men and women aged 18 to 26 could be called up.
Of course, there hasn't been a draft since 1973. But that's not much comfort to Beverly Cocco. So she is keeping a sharp eye on the political traffic. She's a Bush supporter today, but if she doesn't like what she hears between now and November, Beverly could easily cross over. In Philadelphia, I'm Richard Schlesinger for Eye on America.
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