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September 19, 2004
Rather Contacted Burkett, Offered Solidarity: Newsweek

In an intriguing detail to the Killian forgeries, Newsweek reports today that Dan Rather called Bill Burkett offering his continued support the day after CBS ran the discredited story on George Bush's TANG service:

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."

Newsweek's source is the friend, of course, and that's based on the oddball testimony of Burkett himself. Burkett's mention of the conversation preceded his outing as a suspect in the forgeries, however, and at least confirms that Burkett sees himself as a primary source for the CBS story. Burkett claims now that someone has killed his dog since he became the the focus of the story, and threatened his wife with rape. No word from Newsweek whether they've confirmed that with local police.

It comes as no surprise that CBS News employees have begun to despair at the damage done to their credibility over the Killian forgeries and the obstinacy of the 60 Minutes crew in denying their culpability:

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. While CBS News president Andrew Heyward has publicly backed Rather, the network has quietly assembled a team of additional producers to work the case.

It sounds like CBS may have overruled Rather and begun a quiet internal investigation into the fiasco. Perhaps they could start with the Washington Post's front-page story today. In the meantime, if they want to retain any credibility whatsoever, someone should tell CBS to put a cork in their whining that the forgeries have "distracted attention from legitimate questions about Bush's Guard service." When a media outlet falsifies a story, they cannot expect anyone to take it seriously -- and if they do expect that, then no one will take them seriously anymore.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 19, 2004 10:20 AM

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» Train Wreck from :: Political Musings ::
This morning's WaPo has a pretty exhaustive recounting of the CBS National Guard non-story. This thing is truly like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Earlier in the week, I suggested that Rather and his boss, Andrew Heyward should both go. ... [Read More]

Tracked on September 19, 2004 11:51 AM

» CBS Close to an Admission (of being misled) from bLogicus
The New York Times is reporting that CBS is close to admitting, publicly, that they were misled about the Bush Guard Memos. My Summary with Editorial: Unamed CBS officials express doubts and said the organization would likely make an announcement... [Read More]

Tracked on September 20, 2004 12:38 AM

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