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CBS Blames White House For Its Mistakes

Or Rove Screws CBS, (OK that's supposed to be a humorous jab at the Rove-obsessed left...)

The Los Angeles Times joins The Washington Post and ABC as the big three covering Rathergate [NBC, FOX, and The New York Times are still content to run AP work]. The Los Angeles Times breaks substantial new information on the days leading up to the original 60 Minutes II story.

NEW YORK - It was 11 a.m. on Sept. 8 - nine hours before "60 Minutes" was to air. But as news executives debated whether to broadcast a story on newly obtained paperwork offering fresh evidence about President Bush's National Guard service, a big question hung over CBS News' Westside headquarters: Were the photocopied documents real or fake?

Suddenly, the answer seemed to materialize, and from an unlikely source - the White House itself.

John Roberts, the network's White House correspondent, called to report he'd just completed an on-camera interview with Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director. Bartlett, it appeared, had no quarrel with the authenticity of the documents.

That was the turning point.

"If we had gotten back from the White House any kind of red flag, raised eyebrow, anything that said, 'Are you sure about this stuff?' we would have gone back to square one," Josh Howard, the program's executive producer, told the Los Angeles Times in an interview Friday. "The White House said they were authentic, and that carried a lot of weight with us."

The problem with Howard's statement is that the White House never said they were authentic, they just said the documents add nothing to a now very old story. Had the White House made any indications that there were problems with the documents, the administration would have been under pressure to prove they were fakes. Apparently CBS was banking on this at the same time it was ignoring the objections of it's own document experts.

And the real bombshell:

Although CBS News notes that Mapes had been chasing the National Guard story for five years, it only came back on the active burner in mid- to late August.

That's when executive producer Howard got a call from her, telling him "she was on to something" and wanted to put her other projects aside.

Over the next couple of weeks, he said, "she would call from time to time, telling me she was getting closer, not closer, something that she was looking up that was a blind alley - those kinds of things that reporters do when tracking a story. There was nothing definitive" until he got the call from her on Sept. 3, Howard recalled.

On that Friday, just before the Labor Day weekend, Mapes excitedly phoned her bosses from Texas to report a breakthrough in the document quest. "I've got them," she told Howard.

This completely changes the time-line of events, as we reported previously Rather had maintained that they had been working on this story for 6 weeks. Now we know that the DNC and Kerry campaign had these forgeries BEFORE CBS! Were they the source? Was an affiliated organization like MoveOn.org the source?

Update: More from The New York Times on Burkett's contact with the Kerry campaign.

Update 2: More coverage on the meaning of the change in time-line from Allah and Jeff Goldstein. As one Wizbang commenter put it, "We're one disgruntled CBS employee away from complete melt-down."


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference CBS Blames White House For Its Mistakes:

» Allah Is In The House linked with http://www.allahpundit.com/archives/000982.html

» protein wisdom linked with Rathergate, the Next Generation

» The Brown Daily Squeal linked with Bloggers Take Down Dan Rather

» Minion of the Great Satan linked with It's called a Slowplay

» bLogicus linked with DNC Had Forged Memos Before CBS?

» CALIFORNIA YANKEE linked with Trail Of Connections

Comments (18)

<a href="http://www.reuters... (Below threshold)
sooner or later the real so... (Below threshold)

sooner or later the real source will come out and admit the docs were phony.. as soon as they get scared enough to realize they forged US Military documents...

Actually, Wasp, it won't be... (Below threshold)

Actually, Wasp, it won't be because they realize they did something wrong, it'll be because they realize they're about to be tracked down and caught.

The idea that CBS News coul... (Below threshold)

The idea that CBS News couldn't figure out for themselves that these documents are phony as a wooden nickel and had to wait for the White House to confirm or deny them strikes me as ludicrous.

Then again, the idea that they would run them on he air, then not retract the story for a week and a half if ever is also ludicrous. So who the hell knows any more.

All I know for sure is that I will no more get my news from CBS than I get it from the Daily Show.

As far as Bush questioning ... (Below threshold)

As far as Bush questioning the authenticity of the documents, exactly what did the president say in the interview with the Union Leader:

He said there were questions about the documents. He did not label them as fake. If thye are a damn lie, why doesn't he come out and say "It's all a damn lie."

He said he got permission to go to Alabama. I have never heard anyone dispute that.

He didn't deny getting help getting into the guard.
He didn't deny missing the physical or explain why he missed it.
He didn't make any statement about actually showing up to do his time in Alabama.
He didn't make any statement regarding the sugar coating of his record.

If you read the original article in the Union Leader, he didn't say much of anything at all.

Why are so many News Sourc... (Below threshold)

Why are so many News Sources cutting Rather so much slack?He clearly would go to ANY length to denigrate G.W. Bush.This man(Dan) has unfairly and obviously opposed anything and everything about the President.
Ms.Mapes should be canned immediately,followed by Rather and any one else involved.

Why does everyone seem to t... (Below threshold)

Why does everyone seem to think that Bush would have any idea of whether the documents are fake or real? Why do they assume he would even know if someone "helped" him get in the National Guard or not. Why do they think he would know what memos his superior officers might have written amongst themselves or for their personal files? Do any of these people live in the real world? Do you know what memos your boss has written about you? All Bush can know is what he did and I think he has answered those questions.

I found out a few years ago that just before I was to go on active duty with the Air Force in 1973 the Air Force contacted my family doctor for some kind of medical report and he had contacted my mother to determine if I wanted to go on active duty or not. Apparently he could have nixed my activation based on what he did or said. If my mother was of the mind she could have gotten me out my committment without my ever knowing. My point being that if someone helped Bush behind the scenes and it was not something he sought or knew about . . . . is he somehow responsible for it?

Do any of these people l... (Below threshold)

Do any of these people live in the real world?

Here's my answer.

I think CBS got the docs ri... (Below threshold)

I think CBS got the docs right around the same time as the Kerry campaign, August 20th, and they got them from the Kerry campaign. But with their last shred of journalistic integrity, refused to go with those docs until they tracked down the original (non-partisan) source of the docs on September 2. I've got more here.

"On Sept. 4, shortly before... (Below threshold)

"On Sept. 4, shortly before CBS News broadcast its report, Mr. Burkett told the Democratic e-mail list he had a hunch that more material might soon emerge to embarrass the president. "No proof, just gut instinct," Mr. Burkett added."

He likes to show off, doesn't he.

The past two weeks has show... (Below threshold)

The past two weeks has shown that no one should ever believe CBS about anything, particularly if they have an interest.

I've been pushing the few C... (Below threshold)

I've been pushing the few CBS folks I know, but nobody's budging. Apparently, they want to keep their jobs or something.


This will probably go down ... (Below threshold)

This will probably go down in political history as The Big Sting. The old axiom comes to mind: Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves. Dan Rather thought he was f*cking the President and he ended up getting f*cked. Let him try to prove that the White House snookered him by saying the documents looked okay.

Here's why I think Rather was an active participant in working on the story with the Texas Democrats: Rather joined the US Marines and after only 44 days in boot camp he washed out. In his biography he claims he's a former Marine, but he's not in reality. He couldn't hack basic training. Someone like him looks at a real soldier or Marine and he's reminded of his own shortcomings. So what does he do? During the Vietnam War he slams our guys in combat. He tries to make them look like war criminals or inept. CBS reporter, Liz Trotta, who actually went into the fields of Nam with the soldiers in combat talks about Rather in her book "Fighting for Air". The jerk never left his hotel in Saigon. He would take credit for other people's hard work -- people who actually covered the troops in battle. The gist of Trotta's story is that guys like Rather were a pack of cowards.

BTW, I know it's not PC to ... (Below threshold)

BTW, I know it's not PC to say anything negative about the handicapped, but I've suspected Max Cleland has been sitting on his brains in his wheelchair for quite some time. You know, his own military history isn't squeaky clean either. For instance, we continuously here about his injuries on the field of battle. Well, he was injured in Vietnam, but he wasn't on the battlefield. According to Ann Coulter, he was a bit tipsy with his comrades in arms and he picked up a grenade that was laying on the ground and there was a mishap. Exactly how the pin on the grenade was pulled is still unclear. It seems Dems are always getting purple hearts for self-inflicted wounds.

The idea that John Roberts ... (Below threshold)
Ric Locke:

The idea that John Roberts or Josh Howard could actually expect to get anything useful or helpful from the White House just boggles the mind. President Bush has already said that he doesn't regard the media or media relations as anything useful, and he has good reasons for that. Given that CBS has been ragging the Bush Administration with no mercy, and little regard for either fact or politeness, the whole time they've been in office, why would anybody at the DNC PR department expect to get anything at all from anyone close to Bush?

Without even seeing the actual messages involved, I'd bet what was sent could be accurately paraphrased as "No, that's OK, we don't mind if you go public with this." The "Buuuuuuwahahaha!" probably didn't get included in the fax.

Ric Locke

Like Jim Kouri (^^), I had ... (Below threshold)

Like Jim Kouri (^^), I had one of those Max Clelland flashback ponderings earlier this evening. Clelland showing up in Texas with all that urgency not so long ago, Burkett showing up soon after with urgency at the Abilene Kinko's (he has AN ACCOUNT there, something I find interesting)...then reading on DRUDGE today that Burkett contacted Cleland recently. Well, just saying, it's the stuff that flashback moments are made of.

Because, both these guys are certainly embittered about Bush for strange, even irrational reasons. Just gotta hand that document to Bush after all those miles, can't leave it at his doorstep with a helper, gotta just go home with the undelivered document instead, all the way back to Georgia...

Anyone who would suggest or think that the DNC is NOT involved in the Fraudgate thing, that Dan Rather isn't, well, I've got a document to sell ya' right here.

I just love Jim Kouri's lin... (Below threshold)

I just love Jim Kouri's line "It seems Dems are always getting purple hearts for self-inflicted wounds." I can just hear it now - a new Country Song!


I think the entire American... (Below threshold)

I think the entire American Left deserves Purple Hearts for the way they've been behaving.






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