The narrative wheezeAnalysis of CBC's (oops...the raginkrautpoints out in email that my instincts got the better of my typing, CBS) non-statement is all over the blogosphere. Essentially, Rather and Co. have admitted there are some questions about the Killian memos but argued that the "thrust" of the story is true.
This is not going to work but the rhetorical mechanics of the move are unsurprising. They are exactly the same as the tactics of Michael Moore supporters when confronted with the fact F9/11 is factually challenged.
"It's a narrative."
Now, in the hands of good PoMo thinkers, a narrative is a story which, while factually false reflects an underlying truth.
On this line forged documents are like voice overs and the music which introduces the news - props. So it just doesn't matter that a newsmagazine runs the forged documents straight. They are, after all, props.
The narrative wheeze is a wonderful way of avoiding the tedium of actually reporting a story. Instead a news organization can simply make it up. So long as it really, sincerely believes that there is an underlying truth to the story, on the narrative account, any facts which turn out to be, er, false can be simply wished away.
Using the narrative wheeze I can grab a picture of John Kerry, crudely Photoshop him having relations with a goat and run with the story. If people point out that the picture is an obvious fake, so what. So long as I sincerely believe the picture reflects an underlying truth, according to the narrative wheeze I've done nothing wrong.
It is pitiful to see a once respected news organization fall to this. Edward Murrow and Eric Severid are wearing paper bags on their heads in newsie heaven.