Bernard Goldberg, formally of CBS News, currently of Fox News, has uncovered a hitherto obscure fact surrounding the 2004 scandal known as Rathergate. The scandal involves George W. Bush’s real feelings about serving in Vietnam.
It seems that the young George W. Bush, contrary to popular belief, did not join the Air National Guard in order to avoid service in Vietnam. Indeed he seems to have volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam, under a program known as Operation Palace Watch. Bush’s motive for joining the Air Guard was that he wanted to fly fighter jets and not be drafted into the infantry. Moreover Mary Mapes, the producer of the now infamous story on George W. Bush’s Air National Guard service that relied on forged documents, knew about this fact in advance.
According to Bernard Goldberg:
“Until now, the controversy over the Rather/Mapes story has centered almost entirely on one issue: the legitimacy of the documents – a very important issue, indeed. But it turns out that there was another very important issue, one that goes to the very heart of what the story was about – and one that has gone virtually unnoticed. This is it: Mary Mapes knew before she put the story on the air that George W. Bush, the alleged slacker, had in fact volunteered to go to Vietnam.”
Young Lieutenant George W. Bush was turned down for combat duty in Vietnam because he lacked the necessary flight hours at the time. This fact oddly did not make it into the story that aired in 2004, shortly before the Presidential election.
It is unknown whether Dan Rather, the correspondent who reported the George W. Bush Air Guard story, was aware of the fact that Bush had volunteered for Vietnam when he aired the story.
The Bernard Goldberg revelation puts a new wrinkle on the old Rathergate scandal. Hitherto, people had been focused on the reliance by Mapes and Rather on forged documents which purported to “prove” that George W. Bush used influence to join the Texas Air National Guard to avoid service in Vietnam. Now the fact that Bush had actually volunteered for dangerous combat duty, the fact that Mary Mapes knew about this, and the fact that this was not mentioned in the story as aired suggests that the Rathergate scandal was not just a matter of simply journalistic negligence by people so anxious to take down a sitting President that they did not examine the documentary evidence closely enough.
The fact that Bush had volunteered for Vietnam destroyed the very premise of the story that suggested the Bush dodged service in Vietnam. The fact the Mary Mapes knew this and decided to run the story anyway that was clearly contrary to the established facts raises troubling questions.
Dan Rather is now involved in a multimillion dollar law suit concerning his separation from CBS News. The question as to what Dan Rather knew and when did he know it could determine the outcome of that law suit.
Source: A “Lost” Fact in the “Rathergate” Mess – Part 1, Bernard Goldberg, Between Manhattan and Malibu, August 25th, 2009