Monday, September 20, 2004

60 minutes confesses

I just got an email from the local CBS affiliate. They included an article in which CBS news admits that the memos came from Bill Burkett and that they are probably fake. It's about time. I can't find this article either on CBS5.com (my local) or CBS.com, but I'm still looking.

Here is the reply I sent to CBS5:


Thank you for the reply to my email about the TANG memos.

I appreciate that CBS News is finally admitting that the memos are fake and that they are apologizing for their carelessness. But you know, carelessness was never the main issue. The main issues were (1) that CBS stonewalled and lied to avoid admitting that the memos are fake and (2) that CBS shopped around for an expert to verify the memos. That isn't merely careless, it's dishonest.

We now know that CBS received only copies of the memos, and from a known Bush hater who had no credible story for how he came into possession of the memos. Combined with the pathetic crudeness of the forgery, this shows not merely carelessness on the part of CBS, it shows a deep partisan contempt for procedure, when that procedure may aid the opposition.

It's also rather shocking that your press release doesn't discuss Burkett's history. The man loathes George Bush. He has told some extremely questionable stories about Bush in the past. He has compared Bush to Hitler and Napoleon. By leaving this out, CBS is essentially lying by omission again, trying to cover up just how reckless they were.

Dan Rather is quoted as saying "CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question-and their source-vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome." I don't recall such a vow. I recall Dan Rather specifically and directly denying that the issue was even being investigated. He was belligerent and accused his critics of being partisan attackers. Where is the apology for that?

CBS News and Dan Rather still have a lot of answering to do and I would like to know if your station is going to be part of the group that holds them accountable or part of the coverup.

Regards,
Dave Gudeman
http://docrampage.blogspot.com

UPDATE: The Corner has the full text of the article but not Dan Rather's statement. I still don't see either one on the sites, so here is Dan Rather's statement:
Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question-and their source-vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.

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