'48 Hours: Secrets of Waco'

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

'48 Hours: Secrets of Waco'

I don't know why I thought that David Koresh and a religious sect on a 77-acre farm 13 miles from Waco, Texas, would get a fair shake out of CBS... as opposed to ABC, CNN or NBC... but after watching "48 Hours: Secrets of Waco," the more fool I.

Last Friday's hour-long report on the Branch Davidians' violent 51-day confrontation with the U.S. Government wasn't even bad journalism, it was just an embarrassingly superficial one-sided retelling of an event that I, who had a New Gun Week column at the time, and others, followed very closely in the hours after it began on Sunday, Febru­ary 28, 1993, to its horrifying firey conclusion cablecast live on CNN, April 10.

The hour-long report was hosted by correspondent Peter Van Sant (don't know his work) who quickly revealed himself to be an utter hack.

The real story, which the CBS program barely touched on, was the Clinton administration's hastily constructed fiction which pretty much succeeded when Attorney Gen­eral Janet Reno stepped up to accept full responsibility for everything that happened.

"I was responsible, I made the decision, I will live with it."

(Reno had been nominated by President Bill Clinton on February 11, 1993, and confirmed 28 days later, right in the middle of the stand-off.)

To be sure there's a story about the Branch Davidians' confrontation with the U.S. Government to still be told, but CBS wasn't even close to it.

One which was spot on was a 1997 documentary, "Waco: The Rules of Engagement," a dispassionate examination of what had happened in the days leading up to the ill-planned armed assault on the Branch Davidian's home, the siege and the shocking finale in which 76 men, women and children were immolated by our Government.

The film's producer, Dan Gifford, wrote a piece about another network's report, "Truth and Lies: Waco" airing tomorrow evening on ABC, that lays out most of the critical information CBS missed.

Surprisingly, the only truthful part of the CBS report was the assertion that, on the day of the initial contact, the ATF assault team asked the Davidians for a cease-fire, though unspoken was the real reason: the assault team was out of ammunition!

I can but hope that ABC will do a more honest job than CBS... but then as I've already expressed, the more fool I.


Almost certainly not coincidentally given the relationships between network CBS and Viacom, on January 18th Spike TV (née The Nashville Network in 1983) will once again rebrand itself, this time as Paramount Network.

One of its first offerings will be a six-part "scripted show" entitled "Waco."

Based on Friday's "48 Hours: Secrets of Waco" on CBS, any relationship to what actually took place, will also be coincidental.


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