Of Course CBS Knew Bush Volunteered to Fly Combat Missions in Vietnam

Bernard Goldberg is getting a good bit of attention for something he said on O’Reilly tonight — that documents show the CBS investigation in 2004 revealed that George Bush volunteered to fly combat missions in Vietnam. The following is from his website, Bernard Goldberg.com (via Newsbusters):

However the complexities and seeming contradictions are interpreted, if Bush at any point had volunteered to fly combat missions in Vietnam – as the CBS investigation unequivocally states — how then could he have been a slacker? The clear answer is that he could not – unless, of course, he volunteered to go to Vietnam knowing full well he wouldn’t be taken. But if that was the case, Mapes would have had an obligation to report both that he volunteered and then produce a credible witness to say it was a sham. She did neither.

Mapes, a well-known liberal at CBS News, has always contended that she had no agenda, that she was not out to get President Bush. But if she knew that George Bush had volunteered for service in Vietnam – as the CBS outside panel clearly concludes — she obviously had an obligation to share that with her viewers.

This was not a secret. Jed Babbin wrote about it at National Review on February 4, 2004:

The first American jet fighters to be deployed to Vietnam were F-102s of the 509th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. When Lt. Bush signed up for fighters and joined the 111th FIS, he stood ready to deploy to Vietnam, as did every other Air National Guard pilot. In fact, he tried to volunteer for Vietnam.

Of the four pilots I spoke to who flew with Bush in the Texas days, Fred Bradley knew him best. They had met before going off to the year-long ordeal of pilot school, and entered the 111th at about the same time. Both were junior lieutenants without a lot of flying experience. But the inexperience didn’t prevent Bush — along with Bradley — from going to their squadron leaders to see if they could get into a program called “Palace Alert.” “There were four of us lieutenants at the time, and we were all fairly close. Two of them had more flight time than the president and me, said Bradley.” All four volunteered for Vietnam (Bradley doesn’t remember whether he and Bush actually signed paperwork, but he specifically remembers both Bush and himself trying to get into the Palace Alert Vietnam program.) Bush and Bradley were turned away, and the two more senior pilots went to Vietnam.Of course Mapes and those working on the story at CBS knew that. If they hadn’t known, then they certainly should have. Remember, the infamous Rathergate story aired on Sixty Minutes II on September 8, 2004. Babbin’s piece was carried by National Review in February 2004, not in response to the CBS report, which had not yet run, but in response to the criticism and accusations coming from many on the left. Babbin was not the only one who wrote about Bush volunteering to fly combat missions and it was also repeated by many bloggers covering the story in 2004. What Goldberg is now pointing to is evidence that proves CBS knew it when they ran the Sixty Minutes II report.

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.

Who says? The outside panel CBS brought into to get to the bottom of the so-called “Rathergate” mess says. I recently re-examined the panel’s report after a source, Deep Throat style, told me to “Go to page 130.” When I did, here’s the startling piece of information I found:

Mapes had information prior to the airing of the September 8 [2004] Segment that President Bush, while in the TexANG [Texas Air National Guard] did volunteer for service in Vietnam but was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots. For example, a flight instructor who served in the TexANG with Lieutenant Bush advised Mapes in 1999 that Lieutenant Bush “did want to go to Vietnam but others went first.” Similarly, several others advised Mapes in 1999, and again in 2004 before September 8, that Lieutenant Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam but did not have enough flight hours to qualify.

This information, despite the fact that it has been available since the CBS report came out four years ago, has remained a secret to almost everybody both in and out of the media — one lonely fact in a 234- page report loaded with thousands of facts, and overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the documents.I don’t know why it took a “deep throat” type source to point to something that was part of a pubic document, but evidently when the fact pointed to makes CBS look bad a witness protection program is necessary. I am glad Bernard Goldberg is pointing to this, even this many years later. This is no surprise to those of us in the blogosphere who followed the story closely, but Goldberg is right about the mainstream media. This fact, and others that showed how ridiculous the Rather/Mapes’ “fake but accurate” story was, did not get much attention from the MSM. The Rathergate scandal should be taught in journalism schools, if it is not already. What is really scary is that we will never know how many stories have been run in the media that were based on equally flimsy and even fraudulent information.

Update: Bernard Goldberg has written an update to the post linked above, in which he clarifies some of the points I raised here. He has additional information as well.

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