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« New Network Problem | Main | Just When We Thought It Was Safe To Take Down The Shutters »

CBS Stands By Imperial Wardrobe Claims

NEW YORK (APUPI) In the face of rising, even overwhelming skepticism, Dan Rather and CBS News refuse to back down from his blockbuster story that the Emperor wore a new set of clothes in last week's parade. His network remains one of the last holdouts from the growing consensus that His Highness was, in fact, ambulating down the street completely naked.

"We choose to believe the numerous eyewitnesses who saw the Emperor's new clothes before they changed their story," explained a CBS spokeswoman.

The imbroglio started last week when Sixty Minutes did a hard-hitting piece on the latest imperial fashion, with extensive footage of the Emperor as he strode down the street, waving to his subjects. Shortly after the piece aired (though NPR, pointing to a plot on the part of the nudity lobby, and being unable to distinguish between time zones, claims that it actually occurred prior to airtime), a small boy put up a post at the anti-imperial Free Republic website claiming that the Emperor was actually not wearing any clothes at all.

"I've been examining the footage of the parade," he wrote, "and if you look carefully, you'll see that almost every square inch of his skin is exposed. It looks to me as though he's not even wearing any underwear, either boxers or briefs. I think that in a couple shots you can actually see his doodle."

It was apparently a thought that hadn't occurred to anyone else, at least at first, and this post didn't receive much attention initially, but a few people started emailing it to some bloggers, who on the next day noted the potential sartorial discrepancy and invited comments from their readership. As others went back to reexamine the CBS footage, the web sites started to become deluged by emails from fashion experts all over the country.

Heated arguments took place on line, with sites like The Daily Kos arguing that the clothes were simply so fine that that they just appeared to be transparent. One commenter at that site named "Joe the Fashion Guy," who claimed to have worked with famous Parisian designer Foofoo LaDerriere, pointed out that it was quite common for celebrities' clothes to present the illusion of nudity. Subsequent investigation, however, determined that he was simply a night watchman in the LA Fashion District.

Some bloggers and other web site owners did their own experiments, taking pictures of themselves with and without clothing, and posting the results to demonstrate the difference. Many of them used animated gifs to offer instant A/B comparisons.

The results ranged from fascinating to frightening, resulting, in some of the latter cases, in charges of grotesque internet obscenity. For additional contrast, some of them demonstrated a state in between, by donning pajamas. The other networks and newspapers started to pick up the story. As a result, over the course of a couple days, it became clear to most non-imperial partisans that His Majesty had suffered a major-league wardrobe malfunction, and that CBS had been snookered.

Despite this, the network and Rather stuck to their guns. They dragged out other footage of prior clothed instances of His Majesty, and noted that even if that particular footage displayed a naked emperor, it didn't matter, since the general story was true. Flanked by the imperial tailors, they also attacked critics as partisan, and opposed to the vital, albeit expensive, imperial clothing budget.

One of the few publications to stand by the network, the Boston Globe, ran a story in which it quoted Mr. Blackwell as saying, "The Emperor was clearly completely and resplendently clothed during the entire event." The famous clothes critic later complained that he was misquoted.

"If by 'completely and resplendently clothed,' they meant 'naked as a jaybird,' then I guess they got the quote correct," he told this correspondent.

"In fact, after examining the footage to be used in the piece, I actually warned CBS that the Emperor wasn't wearing any clothes before it aired, but they didn't pay any attention to me. I told them that I couldn't verify the authenticity or fashionability of clothes that didn't exist, but they chose to go ahead anyway."

Columnist Maureen Dowd at the New York Times tried to help out as well, quoting one of the critics as saying, "I...think...the Emperor was not...naked."

But by the end of the week, the strain was clearly getting to the CBS staff. "Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?" snarled the veteran anchorman in a brief press conference last week in front of CBS headquarters.

"We don't have to prove that the Emperor was wearing any clothes. It's up to our critics to prove that he wasn't."

Recently, though, there have been some signs that the network may be preparing to back down from some of its more extreme clothing claims. A spokesperson said today that "...we stand by the general theme of our story, and we certainly believed at the time that the Emperor was finely garbed. We believed that the clothes were authentic, and it remains inconclusive whether or not he was actually dressed at that particular point in time."

In related news, the FCC is investigating the long display of nudity during prime time, and is expected to levy fines that make the half-million paid by CBS for the Janet Jackson Superbowl incident look like couch-cushion change.

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 15, 2004 04:51 AM
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CBS Stands By Emperor's Wardrobe Claims
Excerpt: ABC News, The Washington Post, and Frank "Catch Me If You Can" Abagnale weigh in on the memos, and we have a satire too. The story is definitely shifting away from the memos' content, and toward CBS' malfeasance, denials and cover up.
Weblog: Winds of Change.NET
Tracked: September 15, 2004 12:41 PM

Great writing as usual, Rand! Good way to start an otherwise dreary and rainy day in the Midwest! :-)

Posted by John Breen III at September 15, 2004 07:55 AM

*Scarred by mental image of Pres. Bush's doodle*

Posted by Josh "Hefty" Reiter at September 15, 2004 09:38 AM

"You can have information anarchy. You have to look at who these people are. We have to put some scrutiny on the bloggers." James O'Shea, managing editor of the Chicago Tribune.

I wonder if O'Shea needs a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing?

Posted by Andy Freeman at September 15, 2004 09:38 AM

Great as usual, Rand!

Don't forget your copyright notice. You know others are going to use this. ;-)

Posted by Barbara Skolaut at September 15, 2004 12:40 PM

Good job!! Keep people like O'Shea running scared I say! Make news really about news again rather then egos and wanting to present a one sided political view. Well done!

Posted by Suzi at September 15, 2004 12:51 PM

For me, the worst mental image were the "A/B" blogger pictures. Still, there might be one or two women bloggers that ... but no, really bad image.

I really liked this one, Rand. Good job.

Posted by VR at September 15, 2004 01:41 PM

Dan has no shame, or is completely deluded. In keeping with the the thought of this post (be sure to read the hyperlinked article):

"Answer the question - did you beat your wife?" Dan Rather was asking a direct question to President George W. Bush.

"I say that with respect," he added. The question comes from memos that have come under attack as being highly questionable. Among other issues, as of the dates shown on the memos, Bush wasn't married. However, CBS maintains that Bush was intending to get married at the time, so they believe the memos are essentially correct.

Posted by VR at September 15, 2004 02:30 PM

I would like to draw your attention to a web site that has some additional documents that may relate to George W. Bush and his military service.

As you may know, much has been made of the gaps in his logbook. I suggest a possible explanation. Could it be his real logbooks are still classified, after all these years?

Not too long ago, Rand ridiculed a journalist who said Bush was a "test pilot" during the Vietnam era. Suppose, however, the journalist was not merely clueless. Is it possible that Bush was testing some top secret aircraft that has not yet come to light?

Here's where the new documents come in. I believe I have uncovered possible evidence of what then-Lt. Bush was flying:

Skeptics may say the photographs and documents on this site are forgeries. Some members of the professional rumor mill have gone so far as to suggest they were done with modern software such as Photoshop and CAD programs. I'm sure CBS News will recognize their true importance, however.

Posted by at September 15, 2004 04:00 PM

Some might argue those pictures must be forgeries because they were made using digital cameras and no such technology existed at the time. However, photography did exist in those days, and so did digits. QED.

Posted by McGehee at September 15, 2004 05:02 PM

On 60 Minutes Wednesday night CBS stuck to its story, even as it shot itself in the foot. They had on the secretary who worked for Killian. She said that she thought that the documents were forgeries (after all, she would have typed them). But she said that they accurately reflected what was going on at the time.

Posted by at September 15, 2004 06:17 PM



That will be their new tagline.

Posted by VR at September 15, 2004 06:31 PM



That will be their new tagline.

Posted by VR at September 15, 2004 06:31 PM

Arggh. Double clicked ... double posted. Sorry.

Posted by VR at September 15, 2004 06:32 PM




Posted by SBD at September 16, 2004 03:00 AM

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