Carol Platt Liebau

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tony Blankley has done it. That is, cogently summarized the reservations I have had about the Rathergate report. What was news to me was that Richard Thornburgh works for the law firm that represents CBS. And what Blankley doesn't say (but plainly implies) is that Thornburgh had a conflict of interest.

That is, as an ombudsman-like investigator, he had an obligation to answer all the questions -- including whether (1) The Defense Department documents broadcast by CBS were known to be fraudulent; and (2) Whether political bias exists at the network (wow, that's a tough one).

But as an attorney at the firm representing CBS, he simultaneously had an fiduciary relationship with the entity he was supposed to be investigating, and a concomitant obligation to avoid putting CBS in legally jeopardy, certainly, but also -- perhaps more subtly -- to avoid holding it up to unnecessary ridicule or reputational damage.

As far as I'm concerned, that's the missing link that explains the obvious oversights in the report -- as I tried to express it Monday, the fact that it's factually thorough, but fails to draw the obvious interpretations or make the conclusions (or even ask the right questions) from the facts it so painstakingly lays out.


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