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The X Files
Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

The 9/11 story, and others, show the media has unfortunately interfered with good reporting.

One of the many "Number One" rules of the news business is to never become part of the story you are reporting. We are supposed to tell our audience what happened OBJECTIVELY without the cloud of conflict that hangs over the story when media folks are at the center of the issue or impact the facts or events of the story.

Two stories bring this problem to mind this week. As we commemorate the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we also wrestle with the allegations that CBS and its anchor/managing editor, Dan Rather, have played fast and loose with the facts in the George Bush/National Guard service story.

First, 9/11. It is one of those events, like the assassination of President John Kennedy, or the explosion of a Space Shuttle, that will always remain fixed in our minds as to where we were when we witnessed the tragedy. I was in Brownsville, Texas where I was to be the keynote speaker at the North American Border Freight Conference on September 11th at an event that included the hierarchy of EVERY major section of the U.S. Department of Transportation: the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Maritime Administration, all the top dogs. Only the FAA was absent and we k now what they were doing that fateful day.

The phone rang in my hotel room as my early-rising wife in San Pedro called to alert me to a "weird" breaking story involving a spectacular fire at one of the Twin Towers. As we sat on the phone in awe of what was happening on the television, like millions of others, we then saw the second plane hit the second tower.

We all have our own feelings and memories from that day. I recall arriving at the conference hotel and finding all of the participants standing in the bar next to the main ballroom watching the story unfold on TV. When I saw a photo of fellow news commentator Barbara Olson on TV, my heart sank. She died on Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. We spent the rest of the week trying to deal with the horror we witnessed and we were stuck in Brownsville because all flights had been cancelled. Since Harlingen was a fairly small airport, it was one of the last to open.

We all discussed how, in our lifetime and beyond, we would ALWAYS see the horrific images on the news periodically so that our nation would NEVER forget what was done to us. Little did we know that some politically correct media executives, who must have minored in psychology in college, or fit the current description of "girly-men," would decide that some of the images were too harsh for us and our children to see. These media morons decided they knew what was best for America and their reporting underlings did NOTHING about it. They never sought out public opinion on the matter; they just buckled to the people who signed their paychecks. Ergo, we no longer see the hijacked planes actually slamming into the towers, nor do we see the forsaken leaping from the fiery building to their everlasting fate below. I'm not suggesting we see them hit the ground, but the fact they were forced to jump from 1,000 feet or so is an important component of the severity of what we witnessed.

Some argued a justification for this is that survivors of 9/11 victims would be anguished each time they saw footage on the air. I understand, but it is no different than the horrible memories of the Holocaust. And as Jews often say about the Holocaust, "Never again!" Maybe we should keep that axiom in mind for the same reason. Never again will we allow a 9/11 to happen. Let us not allow another axiom, "Out of sight, out of mind" to rule our future view of terrorism.

We should remember that we lost more American lives in the World Trade Center attacks than we did in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The media was WRONG in inserting itself into 9/11, one of the greatest tragic stories in the history of the United States. That's not our business. Our job is to show it all, even if we have to give the obligatory warning we often hear when partial nudity will be shown, or, HEAVEN FORBID, when the results of a sporting event (like the Olympics) are given before it's taped version is later shown. "A warning. What you are about to view may be disturbing" or "You may want to turn away from what we are about to show you", but we see it anyway.

As we saw the almost unfathomable murders of hundreds of children in Beslan, Russia last week by so-called "Chechnan Rebels," it is also amazing to me how the media somehow managed to ignore or play down the fact that the majority of the attackers were MUSLIM TERRORISTS. Let's call a spade a spade!

The 20 terrorists killed by the Russian Army were MUSLIM mercenaries. That's a fact. Who is the media trying to protect by identifying them as "Chechnan Rebels?" Are we more concerned that people will become anti-Muslim because of the atrocities at the Russian school than reminding people about WHO perpetrated this massacre? The American public, as well as the rest of the civilized world, needs to know these attacks are not just a U.S. or Israeli problem.

These maniacal nut-cakes have no conscience and they have shown once again they are capable of terrorizing anyone and everyone, usually in the name of a bastardized version of a decent religion.

Let's just tell the stories as they occur. As Jack Webb used to say in the old LAPD television series, Dragnet, "just the facts Ma'am, just the facts." Let the audience arrive at its own conclusion of what it saw, what it means, and how America should react.

This brings us to the latest media charade involving the unnecessary and damaging media intervention in a story, specifically, CBS' 60 Minutes and the controversy over how it has presented the allegations that George Bush flaked out on his military obligation in the Texas National Guard 30-some years ago.

It is still a developing story but a couple of things are very clear and very disturbing.

First of all, beyond whatever the true facts may be about what George Bush did or didn't do in 1972, I am shocked and dismayed that CBS' latter day news icon, Dan Rather, in the midst of the storm over whether he did a story using faked documents, responded to the controversy by saying, "I KNOW the story (about Bush's alleged evasions) is true."

How so, Danny Boy? Were you there? If not, you should know that the producers and writers you depend on to give you the facts appear to have blown it. And maybe you have finally blown your career out of the water.

Here's a quickie backgrounder for those of you who need it.

60 Minutes ran a story last week with a former Texas political big-shot, Ben Barnes, claiming he helped the senior President George Bush in getting young Dubya to the front of the National Guard line to avoid full service and possible deployment to Vietnam. Barnes, by the way, is a co-chair of the Kerry Campaign and one of his major $$$ contributors.

Barnes' comments contradicted not only what he said four years ago during the first Bush run for the White House, but it is counter to what he testified to in a probe of the Bush military evasion allegations. His own daughter, Amy, has gone on national television and radio to challenge her father's inconsistencies. When she offered to give her side of the story on 60 Minutes, she says she was told they already knew her side of the story and it wasn't important enough to air. EXCUSE ME???

Next, the documents used on the show to bolster the entire story allegedly were memos and notes from Bush's National Guard boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. They purport to claim Bush was punished for missing a physical exam, being late or AWOL from his duty post, and being a lousy pilot.

Here is where it gets "interestingly ugly."

Killian's widow, Marjorie, and their son, Gary, BOTH say Dad always kept info in his head, never kept side notes as these memos would indicate, was loathe to put stuff in writing, he was a terrible typist and avoided memos like the plague, he thought Bush was a pretty good guy, would NEVER have allowed anyone to push his buttons and slip someone to the front of the line to avoid Vietnam or anything else, he would never issue an unsigned memo like the one that said there was pressure to "sugar coat" Bush's performance review, and he NEVER signed any paperwork with his first name, as the CBS documents show. Marjorie described the records shown on CBS as "a farce," saying she was with her husband until the day he died in 1984 and he did not "keep files." She said her husband considered Bush "an excellent pilot."

Gary Killian, who served in the Guard with his father and retired as a captain in 1991, has also said on the Sean Hannity radio and TV shows that he offered the 60 Minutes producers two people who knew and worked with both Jerry Killian and George Bush at the time but CBS refused. One of them was Major Maurice Udell, who was Bush's direct boss and flight instructor and the other was Bush's flying partner and roommate.

But according to Gary Killian, Dan Rather's producer said she was aware of the two and didn't want them on 60 Minutes because, in her words quoted by the younger Killian, "they are too pro-Bush and we already know what they're going to say." Hmmm. EXCUSE ME # 2?

What about the pro-Kerry Ben Barnes whom they used as the MAJOR source for claiming Daddy Bush helped young Dubya skip to the front of the line? He's a Kerry co-chair and fundraiser. Any chance he MIGHT be "pro-Kerry" and that the producers might "already know what he's going to say"?

Let me quickly say that major, credible document and signature forensics experts who have examined the documents CBS used say they appear to be fakes, citing their "computer look" on fonts and spacing mechanisms that were either not available, or not in wide use in 1972. Bill Flynn, a forensic document specialist with 35 years of experience in police crime labs and private practice, said the CBS documents raise suspicions because of their use of proportional spacing techniques. Documents generated by the kind of typewriters that were widely used in 1972 space letters evenly across the page, so that an "i" uses as much space as an "m." In the CBS documents, by contrast, each letter uses a different amount of space.

Another forensics expert says the documents are not on a standard military letterhead. Instead, they feature a typewritten-look and centered address with a post office box rather than an actual street address of the squadron. The address is P.O. Box 34567, which in addition to coincidentally including five consecutive numbers, does not exist nor did it exist during the time the memos were allegedly written.

CBS, meanwhile, caught right in the middle of a very questionable and controversial story IT developed and reported, refuses to identify the documents experts they claim signed off on the authenticity of the paper trail that serves as the major underpinnings for the Dan Rather report.Can there be any more doubt that CBS royally screwed up here and now they have been caught?

It's in the hands of the lawyers now, with the perfunctory "we stand by our sources" puke coming our way. Is it any surprise that the "Eye Network" ranks lasts in national news shows?

CBS has crossed the Rubicon, doing the job which should be the domain of the candidate, not the media. Some people call this type of activity "media bias".

How will you play the story? Will you be aggressive in pursuit of the REAL facts and the truth, or will you cave into unreasonable and unprofessional demands of those who choose political correctness over professionalism and the truth?