In one of the forged CBS memos, General “Buck” Staudt is said to have been pressuring another officer to improve Lieutenant George Bush’s evaluation. That’s a somewhat ludicrous supposition, if you think about it, and it’s even more absurd given that at the time of the fake memo (August 1973), Staudt had been retired from the Guard for a year and a half.
Yesterday, we noted that General Staudt had given an interview to ABC in which he denied that he had pressured anyone about Lt. Bush, and put to rest the claim that he had somehow come out of retirement to do it. In addition, Staudt drove a stake through the heart of the claim that Bush received preferential treatment in getting into the Guard. Staudt said that he was the person who accepted Bush as a pilot, that he did so solely because he thought Bush would make a fine pilot, and that he received no communications from anyone in relation to Bush’s application. (Contrary to what is often reported in the press, there was no “waiting list” at that time to become a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard.)
Staudt’s testimony would seem to definitively put the lie to CBS’s faked memos, but that’s not how CBS sees it. Yesterday CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius brushed off Staudt’s comments:
In a debate this heated, one can hardly expect Gen. Staudt to endorse the point of view that he exerted undue influence.
So if you slander a man, as CBS did General Staudt, the fact that he has been slandered makes his response so suspect that it can safely be disregarded. And information from a person in a unique position to know the facts, like General Staudt, is immaterial; but Bill Burkett, a long-time Bush hater and Democratic activist who knows nothing about Bush’s Guard service, is an “unimpeachable source,” while a comment by Robert Strong to the effect that the forged documents sound like something that could have been written in the early 1970’s satisfactorily confirms the documents’ authenticity, even though, by his own account, Strong has never met President Bush, never spoke to Jerry Killian about President Bush, and has no idea whether the documents are forgeries or not.
At CBS News, the fact that a witness knows what he is talking about is deemed sufficient to disqualify him: an odd way to do journalism.