CBS News considered hiring Matt Drudge to investigate Memogate

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Wow. Just wow.

Want to know just how completely spooked CBS was by the right-wing assault on its news division following the Memogate scandal during the 2004 election? CBS suits were so scared that while forming an "independent" panel to investigate the controversy surrounding Dan Rather's reporting on President Bush's military service, the Tiffany Network considered appointing Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter and/or Rush Limbaugh to the panel.

We kid you not. That, according to a New York Observer report, which found that amazing piece of information while digging through discovery documents in connection to the ongoing $70 million lawsuit Rather has filed against CBS, after he got bounced in the wake of Memogate.

Go read the whole thing. Here's a a key passage from a memo written by CBS brass, defending the hiring of an openly Republican lawyer, Dick Thornburgh, who eventually headed the Memogate investigation:

Because of the perception that CBS News and Dan Rather had a liberal bias, CBS purposefully chose a Republican lawyer, not for any nefarious purpose, but to open itself up to its harshest conservative critics and to ensure that the Panel's findings would be found credible.

Rather's attorneys then turned up a list which CBS executives apparently compiled in the fall of 2004, prior to settling on Thornburgh. Under the category of "others," these possible Memogate panel names were mentioned:

  • William Buckley
  • Robert Novak
  • Kate O'Beirne
  • Nicholas Von Hoffman
  • Tucker Carlson
  • Pat Buchanan
  • George Will
  • Lou Dobbs
  • Matt Drudge
  • Robert Barkley
  • Robert Kagan
  • Fred Barnes
  • William Kristol
  • John Podhoretz
  • David Brooks
  • William Safire
  • Bernard Goldberg
  • Ann Coulter
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Christopher Hitchens
  • PJ O'Rourke
  • Christopher Caldwell
  • Elliot Abrams
  • Charles Krauthammer
  • William Bennett
  • Rush Limbaugh
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