Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post notes that CBS is “trying to get to the bottom of this.”
CBS News anchor Dan Rather has interviewed the retired lieutenant colonel widely believed to have helped provide “60 Minutes” with the disputed National Guard documents about President Bush that have created a credibility crisis for the network, and CBS plans to air the interview in the coming days.
The on-camera sit-down with Bill Burkett, who has urged Democratic activists to wage “war” against Republican “dirty tricks,” could help resolve whether CBS continues to stand by its story or concedes the purported 30-year-old memos are forgeries, as numerous document experts have contended.
Rather was in Texas over the weekend for the interview with Burkett, a former National Guard official, who would not comment in an e-mail to The Washington Post on whether he had been CBS’s confidential source.
CBS News President Andrew Heyward, while declining to comment on what interviews the network may be conducting, said yesterday: “We’ve said we are trying very hard to get to the bottom of these questions.”Newsweek (among others) are fingering obsessed Bush hatter, Bill Burkett, as the one who provided the forged memos to CBS.
Sept. 27 issue – CBS insiders are increasingly worried that the credibility of the network’s news division has been grievously damaged by anchor Dan Rather’s persistent defense of a story which relied on questionable documents about George W. Bush’s National Guard service. “This has clearly hurt us,” one veteran correspondent told NEWSWEEK. Network sources describe finger-pointing within the news division, with concerns greatest among “60 Minutes” producers, who fear the issue has tainted their entire program.
…One problem is that the network has not explained where the purported Texas National Guard records have been for the last 30 years and why they happened to surface in the closing weeks of a presidential campaign. Emily Will, a documents expert approached by CBS to examine the memos, told NEWSWEEK that she was told by a CBS News producer that the network’s source had received the memos anonymously through the mail. Intense scrutiny has centered on the role of William Burkett, a former [Army] National Guard official who charged last February that he saw Bush Guard documents in a trash can in 1997 – an allegation that Guard officials strongly denied. A source who worked with CBS on the story said Burkett was identified by a producer as a conduit for the documents. Three days before the broadcast, Burkett e-mailed a friend that there was “a real heavy situation regarding Bush’s records” about to break. “He was having a lot of fun with this,” said the friend, Dennis Adams. Burkett told a visitor that after the story ran, Rather phoned him and expressed his and the network’s “full support.” CBS has declined to comment on the sourcing of the network’s story. Burkett’s lawyer told the press his client would never “condone forgery,” but did not respond to detailed questions posed by NEWSWEEK.My guess is Burkett will take the rap for passing on the documents but deny creating them.
Burkett’s sole claim to fame is that he allegedly witnessed shredding of Bush’s TANG records in 1998 – that’s what CBS aired – the problem is the reliably liberal, and easily duped Boston Globe, was easily able to rip Burkett’s story to shreds.
Somehow Dan Rather forgot to air the Globe’s evidence.