The latest from the Political Grapevine:
Rather Not Watch CBS?
Ratings for the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather (search) have dropped 24 percent in New York, 35 percent in Philadelphia, and 42 percent in Atlanta since Rather first reported on those disputed National Guard documents on “60 Minutes II” last Tuesday.
This Tuesday's ratings show that Rather's CBS Evening News is down in seven of the top ten markets in the country since the report, and in some cities, rival newscasts on NBC and ABC drew six times as many viewers as CBS.
Meanwhile, the station manager for the largest talk radio station in Rather's hometown of Houston, Texas has dropped Rather's daily newscast on the station, and threatened to take CBS News off the air entirely unless Rather is fired by Monday.
Honing in on the Source?
The speculation as to the source of those disputed memos questioning President Bush's military service has centered around Bill Burkett, a former Colonel in the Army National Guard.
He lives near the Kinko's copy shop in Abilene, Texas from which the memos appear to have been faxed to CBS. He has long claimed that his career was ruined after he refused to falsify reports and alter President Bush's official military records in 1997.
In an Internet column last year, Burkett blamed Bush and his aides for blocking medical treatment for him after he contracted a tropical disease in 1998. Burkett went on to compare President Bush to Napoleon and Hitler, warning that America should be wary of the, "damage a tyrant does to a nation and society."
While the authenticity of those CBS memos is very much in doubt, some sellers on eBay are making fun of the controversy with items for auction.
One seller offers an IBM Selectric typewriter complete with a memo from, "Bush's Air Force Base" at 123 Fake Street and signed by, "Bush's superior officer." Another is selling Microsoft Word replicas of the, "fake" documents, and promises to, "unveil the mystery of the sometimes superscripted 'TH.'"
And for the more creative buyer, a New Jersey man is auctioning off blank sheets of paper he says could become documents proving President Bush's involvement in the Lindberg Kidnapping or the sinking of the Titanic (search), adding that the content is, "up to you and Dan [Rather]"
A new ad by Moveon.org's political action committee shows a picture of an AK-47 assault rifle, and says, "this ... can fire up to 300 rounds a minute. ... In the hands of a terrorist it could kill hundreds ... But on Sept. 13th George Bush will [have] let the assault weapons ban expire."
In fact, such a weapon has been banned since 1934, with the gangster-era passage of the National Firearms Act. According to the non-partisan Annenberg Public Policy Center, the only way to legally own such a gun is to undergo an extensive background check and obtain signed clearance from a local law enforcement chief.
– FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report
With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume.