“In a sign of turbulence, BoycottCBS.com, a conservative website, launched a campaign asking that CBS Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer be removed as a questioner in the October 13 presidential debate,” reported the Los Angeles Times September 21. “The network responded that Schieffer ‘is one of the most experienced and respected journalists covering Washington, D.C. . . . and we are proud he was chosen by the [debate] committee,’ according to CBS spokeswoman Sandra Genelius.”
BoycottCBS.com is back. It first made waves when CBS had plans last year to air a viciously anti-Reagan miniseries about the former President and wife Nancy. Pressure from BoycottCBS and other points forced the network to cancel its plans and shift the miniseries to Showtime. “CBS had expected 20 million people to see it on its network,” said Michael Paranzino, founder of BoycottCBS.com, which is a project of the Framers Institute. Paranzino is the institute’s president. “Instead,” he said, “one million people saw it on Showtime.”
Now CBS has done something far more egregious. “They smeared the President with fake documents just weeks before Election Day,” says BoycottCBS.com. “They coordinated their attack with the John Kerry campaign before they aired their smear. They covered up their coordination for 13 days until other media outlets forced them to admit it. Want your election hijacked by a media conglomerate? If not, join us.”
CBS has now admitted that the four memos that served as the centerpiece of its “60 Minutes” story accusing President Bush of more negligence in performing his National Guard duty 30 years ago cannot be “authenticated.” Many others have called them “obviously fraudulent.” And it turned out that a CBS producer, Mary Mapes, put the now-discredited source of the memos, Bill Burkett, in touch with Joe Lockhart, a high-ranking Kerry campaign official.
The website has garnered thousands of signatures on its petition to the Commission on Presidential Debates, CBS News, and CBS advertisers. The petition wants: “CBS News out of the presidential debates; Dan Rather off the air; CBS News cease reporting on the presidential campaign until the polls close on election night; Americans boycott CBS News and its advertisers until the above reforms occur.”
Asked why Bob Schieffer, the anchor of CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday program and the scheduled moderator for one of the presidential debates, should be given the boot when he had nothing to do with Rather’s fraudulent story, Paranzino replied, “I have nothing against Bob Schieffer as a person. . . . This was multiple lapses of CBS News’s smearing the President with obviously false documents. We’re in the closing days of a close presidential contest and here you have a major broadcast network serving as a conduit for a discredited partisan. It’s broader than just Dan Rather. His contract is up in 2006. There’s a systemic problem.”
Says the BoycottCBS.com website: “Here’s another systemic problem: The media, overwhelmingly liberal, are exempt from the McCain-Feingold anti-political speech law signed by President Bush and upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. So is what CBS News did illegal? “Under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, corporate funds cannot pay for broadcasts that name a candidate within 60 days of a general election. While CBS/Viacom claims a media exemption for its news division, today’s FEC complaint argues that the media exemption does not protect fraudulent broadcasts or those coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.” After all, says the website, “Electioneering communications that are ‘coordinated’ with a candidate are subject to ‘hard money’ limits. Did CBS coordinate its story with the Kerry campaign? The Dallas Morning News has noted that earlier this year, ‘Kerry aides raised the exact points the [disputed] memo seemed to address.'”
Paranzino has served as chief of staff to a congressman and on the campaign staffs of now-Sen. Liddy Dole (R.-N.C.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.). He speculated on how Rather and CBS News could have thought they could get away with peddling obviously phony documents, or perhaps how they actually convinced themselves the documents were real. “Partisanship can blind people,” he said. “And it’s arrogance. These are wealthy Manhattanites. . . . They have taken sides in the most outrageous way in my lifetime.”
Paranzino said that a boycott of CBS could be the factor that finally leads the network to reform the apparently out-of-control news division or at least send Rather, who has a long history of left-wing bias, packing. Lower ratings mean less money, he said. “Once advertisers begin to bail out, Rather will be gone,” he said.
BoycottCBS.com may be found at www.BoycottCBS.com or reached c/o Framers Institute, P.O. Box 2544, Kensington, Md. 20891 (301-571-2393; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).