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Author Topic: Does this save Rather's job?
ATW
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http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/09/06/politics/main641481.shtml

CBS Regrets Bush Memos Story


CBS News on Monday said it regretted broadcasting a story about President Bush's military service based on documents whose authenticity is in doubt, saying the source of the material had misled the network.

CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, the reporter of the original story, apologized.

In a statement, CBS said former Texas Guard official Bill Burkett "has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents" and "admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents' origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source."

The network did not say the memoranda — purportedly written by one of Mr. Bush's National Guard commanders — were forgeries. But the network did say it could not authenticate the documents and that it should not have reported them.

"Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report," said the statement by CBS News President Andrew Heyward. "We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret.

"Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting," Heyward continued. "We will continue to work tirelessly to be worthy of that trust."

Additional reporting on the documents will air on Monday's CBS Evening News, including the interview of Burkett by Rather. CBS News pledged "an independent review of the process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine what actions need to be taken."

In a separate statement, Rather said that "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," he said.

"We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry," Rather added.

The authenticity of the documents — four memoranda attributed to Guard commander Lt. Col. Jerry Killian — has been under fire since they were described in a Sept. 8 broadcast of 60 Minutes.

CBS had not previously revealed who provided the documents or how they were obtained.

Burkett has previously alleged that in 1997 he witnessed allies of then-Gov. Bush discussing the destruction of Guard files that might embarrass Mr. Bush, who was considering a run for the presidency. Bush aides have denied the charge.

In the statement, CBS said: "Burkett originally said he obtained the documents from another former Guardsman. Now he says he got them from a different source whose connection to the documents and identity CBS News has been unable to verify to this point."

Questions about the president's National Guard service have lingered for years. Some critics question how Mr. Bush got into the Guard when there were waiting lists of young men hoping to join it to escape the draft and possible service in Vietnam.

In the Sept. 8 60 Minutes report, former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes — a Democrat — claimed that, at the behest of a friend of the Bush family, he pulled strings to get young George W. Bush into the Guard.

Other questions concern why Mr. Bush missed a physical in 1972, and why there are scant records of any service by Mr. Bush during the latter part of 1972, a period during which he transferred to an Alabama guard unit so he could work on a campaign there.

The CBS documents suggested that Mr. Bush had disobeyed a direct order to attend the physical, and that there were other lapses in his performance. One memo also indicated that powerful allies of the Bush family were pressuring the guard to "sugar coat" any investigation of Lt. Bush's service.

Skeptics immediately seized on the typing in the memos, which included a superscripted "th" not found on all 1970s-era typewriters. As the controversy raged, CBS broadcast interviews with experts who said that some typewriters from that period could have produced the markings in question.

Other critics saw factual errors in the documents, stylistic differences with other writing by Killian and incorrect military lingo.

Some relatives of Col. Killian disputed that the memos were real. His former secretary said the sentiments regarding Mr. Bush's failures as an officer were genuine, but the documents were not.

Some document experts whom CBS consulted for the story told newspapers they had raised doubts before the broadcast and were ignored. CBS disputed their accounts, pointing to the main document expert the network consulted, Marcel Matley.

Matley insisted he had vouched for the authenticity of the signatures on the memos, but had not determined whether the documents themselves were genuine.

Last week, CBS News stood by its reporting while vowing to continue working the story. The network acknowledged there were questions about the documents and pledged to try to answer them.

Mr. Bush maintains that he did not get special treatment in getting into the Guard, and that he fulfilled all duties. He was honorably discharged.

On Saturday, a White House official said Mr. Bush has reviewed the disputed documents that purport to show he refused orders to take a physical examination in 1972, and did not recall having seen them previously.

In his first public comment on the documents controversy, the president told The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., "There are a lot of questions about the documents, and they need to be answered."

The Bush campaign has alleged that their Democratic rivals were somehow involved in the story. John Kerry's campaign denies it. In an email revealed last week, Burkett said he had contacted the Kerry campaign but received no response.

Meanwhile, a federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to find and make public by next week any unreleased files about Mr. Bush's Vietnam-era Air National Guard service to resolve a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Associated Press.

The White House and Defense Department have on several occasions claimed that they had released all the documents only to make additional records available later on.

============

STATEMENT FROM DAN RATHER:

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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meworkingman
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Shall I be the first to take a whack at dismembering this pathetic excuse-fest? I don't have enough time to handle this as it should be handled so I'll just rebut one of the more ridiculous passages in these statements.

quote:

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.

Good faith? GOOD FAITH?! Without favoritism? WITHOUT FAVORITISM?! Good gravy man, you depended on the testimony of a left wing nut-job that called the president "Hitler" in a recent blog. You also depended on the testimony of another left wing source that now contradicts his earlier sworn testimony. At the same time you ignored the testimony of other sources because they were "pro-Bush."

Yeah, sure, this was all an innocent mistake made in good faith. Whatever... Good luck with your retirement, Gunga Dan; you won't be missed.

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Kilthmal
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I guess now we can get back to important issues...


Hahaha, just kidding.

Kilthmal

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javelin
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CNN Tries to Respin the Story
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KenBean
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way too little way too late.
He just rung the death knell on the "mainstream media".
KenBean

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Wayward Son
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Which leaves us with what?? The right-wing media?

As bad as the mainstream media may be, they are still more reliable than other sources.

At least they are held accountable for their mistakes.

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Lewkowski
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Leaves the way open for Fox News, Fair and Balanced.
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WmLambert
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Wayward Son. you need to get your definitions straight. There is the Media that includes everyone. There is the News media which is supposed to be unbiased but is unashamedly pro-Democrat. (Note; Not left or liberal, just pro-Democrat.)
You get the two confused when you try to say that commentators like Limbaugh are the same as Dan Rather. There is supposed to be a difference. If you resort to getting your news from Partisan commentators, then that indicts the news media doesn't it?

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Wayward Son
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You still didn't tell me what choice we have, WmLambert.

I'm glad that CBS News has made a formal, public retraction of at least part of the story, because it shows that they are still concerned with being factual. And only a source that is concerned with providing only the facts is worth listening to for basic information.

So the mainstream media is not in danger of going away. Because there is no other source for reliable information.

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Richard Dey
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My question all along was: why didn't old, some very old reporters not immediately recognize the typeface as modern? I suspect that they are not used to dealing with original sources at all, and, unlike historians, are not savvy to that kind of observation. Still, somebody like Rather should have noticed. Notwithstanding, the Bushies can get some headwind on that blunder!
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Everard
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I have a question, because I honestly don't know how this works.

If I'm Dan Rather, how involved was I in this story before I reported it on TV? Whats the process for getting something like that on TV?

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KenBean
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Ev...

It doesn't matter.

With CBS News...the political news buck stops with Dan.
Bean

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Everard
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Ken...

Thanks for not answering my question, which was an honest attempt at information gathering, and NOT an attempt to exonerage Dan Rather.

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TomDavidson
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Ev, I hear that Rather is more slightly involved with the CBS newsroom than most national anchors of my experience -- which is to say that he's not really all that involved, but his belief in a story (pro or con) can save it or kill it, often at a word. In general, anchors have trusted "lieutenants" who do the initial research for them; before they air, they usually follow up that research by doing juicy, high-profile interviews with principals named in the preliminary research, mainly for color and second-string verification.

It sounds to me like thia was Rather's role in this story, too; someone brought him the info, along with a few names, and he called up those names and asked them if the information was accurate. The names all said yes, so he went with it. Any handwriting verification or document "vetting" would have happened well before it reached Rather's desk, but direct contradictions in his followup interviews -- which he apparently did not receive -- would have given him sufficient reason to hold off on the report.

[ September 20, 2004, 08:15 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Everard
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Thanks, Tom.
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ATW
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Speaking of in good faith and without favoritism:


http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=694&u=/ap/20040921/ap_on_el_pr/cbs_guard_kerry_1&printer=1


At the behest of CBS, an adviser to John Kerry (news - web sites) said he talked to a central figure in the controversy over President Bush (news - web sites)'s National Guard service shortly before disputed documents were released.


Joe Lockhart denied any connection between the presidential campaign and the papers. Lockhart, the second Kerry ally to confirm contact with retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, said he made the call at the suggestion of CBS producer Mary Mapes.


"He had some advice on how to deal with the Vietnam issue and the Swift boat" allegations, Lockhart said Monday, referring to GOP-fueled accusations that Kerry exaggerated his Vietnam War record. "He said these guys play tough and we have to put the Vietnam experience into context and have Kerry talk about it more."


Lockhart said he thanked Burkett for his advice after a three to four minute call.


Lockhart said he does not recall talking to Burkett about Bush's Guard records. "It's baseless to say the Kerry campaign had anything to do with this," he said.


CBS News apologized Monday for a "mistake in judgment" in its story questioning Bush's Guard service, claiming it was misled by the source of documents that several experts have dismissed as fakes.


Burkett admitted this weekend to CBS that he lied about obtaining the documents from another former National Guard member, the network said. CBS hasn't been able to conclusively tell how he got them, or even whether they're fakes or not.


Kerry ally Max Cleland, a former Georgia senator, also said he had a brief conversation last month with Burkett, who told him he had information about Bush to counter charges against Kerry's Vietnam War service. Cleland said he gave Burkett's name and phone number to the campaign's research department.


Kerry spokesman David Ginsberg said nobody in the campaign's research department followed up on Burkett's offer of information.


Lockhart said Mapes asked him the weekend before the story broke to call Burkett. "She basically said there's a guy who is being helpful on the story who wants to talk to you," Lockhart said, adding that it was common knowledge that CBS was working on a story raising questions about Bush's Guard service. Mapes told him there were some records "that might move the story forward. She didn't tell me what they said."

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KenBean
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Does this whole controversy remind anyone else here about a lawyer making an absurd accusation in a court of law...then that remark objected to by opposing counsel...and duly sustained....then the jury only remembers the absurd accusation because of its very absurdity?

Just thought I would check reality here...testing one...two...three [Smile]
Bean

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TomDavidson
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Ken, is it your impression that the technique you describe is uncommon in politics?
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flydye45
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quote:
"Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting," Heyward continued. "We will continue to work tirelessly to be worthy of that trust."

That should read "We will work tirelessly to repair the damage we caused to that trust".

quote:
Questions about the president's National Guard service have lingered for years. Some critics question how Mr. Bush got into the Guard when there were waiting lists of young men hoping to join it to escape the draft and possible service in Vietnam.
What this means is "we continue to believe in this story, even though we have no proof. It hasn't caught on the previous three times we mentioned it, but here it is again."

That Mapes woman has worked for 5 years on this story. How long would you drill a dry hole? That is where the perspective was lost. "

Bush is evil, so there must be proof of it. I can't find it, so that reinforces his evilness because a cover up of this magnitude is nefarious"

I don't mind Republicans being skewered even on twisted facts. I certainly have problems with attacks from made up stuff.

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Ron Lambert
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The admission and apology come more than a week too late. Everyone can see that Rather's and CBS's first policy was to stonewall, and they only admitted all this and apologized after their feet were held to the fire.

To resort to a different metaphor now, Rather has left himself twisting in the wind. Some toy maker like Mattel should sell a Dan Rather kite. They can give one to Senator John Kerry as a consolation prize on November 3rd.

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Gaoics79
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I've never bought the whole liberal media argument that OSC is constantly pushing, but watching this CNN round table discussion just now has made me reconsider. First off, they treated CBS with kid-gloves, practically making Dan Rather and CBS out to be the big victims in all of this. Sorry, but that's about the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. The evidence from the hand-writing experts pretty much proves that CBS knew or ought to have known that something was up. But then the kicker was this: one guy suggested that this whole flap would help the Kerry campaign, because it would bring the focus of the debate back on the real issues. My God. That guy was either a liar or a moron. Keep in mind that this was supposed to be a serious journalist, not a Democrat politician doing damage control. Then he had the gall to suggest that this was some kind of conspiracy, that the documents had somehow been planted by Bush supporters to discredit the story.

My God. Democrats just can't get it through their thick sculls: nobody but Michael Moore democrats cared about the story; it was something obvious that everyone figured out a long time ago, and most people had moved past it. Back in 2000, when I was rooting for Gore (I guess I have gotten more conservative in the past few years, since graduating from University) I had accepted it as common knowledge that Bush used his family connections to avoid combat. Everyone was saying it then, so why did CBS need to bring it back? The answer is, they didn't; they brought it back because they are clearly out to get Bush, and in their zeal to do so, they shot themselves and Kerry in the foot.

The only real story here was the one CBS created for itself in releasing these forgeries in the first place. You know, people claim that Fox News is biased, but I have never seen a more obvious example of bias in the mainstream media. CBS clearly meant to attack Bush for the purpose of influencing the election. Instead of pretending that this was all a big mistake, I would like to see some news organizations start asking some more critical questions and stop coddling CBS and Rather.

Of course, CBS and its supporters will continue to offer left-handed apologies for their "mistake". (I don't actually think it was a mistake, unless you're referring to the mistake of getting caught) They will apologize for pushing forged documents, but then say that the story was true anyway, and that it's too bad that this truth has been lost in shadow of the memos.

[ September 20, 2004, 11:10 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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ATW
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Another story about Mapes' involvement

http://usatoday.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=USATODAY.com+-+CBS+backs+off+Guard+story&expire=&urlID=11705426&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fnews%2Fp oliticselections%2Fnation%2Fpresident%2F2004-09-21-cover-guard_x.htm&partnerID=1660

excerpt

"Reporters who knew of Burkett's role as a Bush critic continued to call as they searched for files that could fill in details on a gap in Bush's service record. Bush was a well-regarded pilot but stopped flying fighter jets in 1972 and moved to Alabama, where he worked on a political campaign and apparently missed required Guard drills.

Ultimately, Burkett decided to turn over the documents to one of the most persistent journalists, CBS producer Mary Mapes, sometime in August. He and his wife met Mapes and CBS reporter Mike Smith at a pizza restaurant a few miles from their ranch. At first he gave them only two of the six documents, which Mapes said she planned to have analyzed for authenticity, according to Burkett.

Burkett said he passed the rest of the documents to Smith around Sept. 5, at a drive-in restaurant near Baird."


Might as well include Mapes in any firings at CBS.

Bad enough she was so desperate that she kept hounding a source who had been shown to be less than credible until he handed over forged documents. But then CBS ingnored the advice of two of their own experts who said they were forged and to top it off Mapes contacted the Kerry campaign to tip them off to the story.

CBS seems to be doing its best to crown Fox as the least biased network news source.

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