Skip to comments.CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say
Posted on 09/19/2004 9:40:13 PM PDT by LibWhacker
After days of expressing confidence about the documents used in a "60 Minutes'' report that raised new questions about President Bush's National Guard service, CBS News officials have grave doubts about the authenticity of the material, network officials said last night.
Those officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents' origins, and that it was mounting an intensive news investigation of where they came from.
But these people cautioned that CBS News could still pull back from an announcement. Officials were meeting last night with Dan Rather, the anchor who presented the report, to go over the information it has collected about the documents one last time before making a final decision.
People at the network said it was now possible that officials would open a formal internal inquiry into how it moved forward with the report, which officials now say they are beginning to believe was too flawed to have gone on the air.
The report relied in large part on four memorandums purported to be from the personal file of Mr. Bush's squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, who died 20 years ago. The memos, dated from the early 1970's, said that Colonel Killian was under pressure to "sugar coat'' the record of the young Lieutenant Bush and that the officer had disobeyed a direct order to take a physical.
Mr. Rather and others at the network are said to still believe that the sentiment in the memos accurately reflected Mr. Killian's feelings, but that the documents' authenticity is now in grave doubt.
The developments last night marked a dramatic turn for CBS News, which for a week stood steadfastly by its Sept. 8 report as various document experts asserted that the typeface of the memos could have been produced only by a modern-day word processor, not Vietnam War-era typewriters.
The seemingly unflappable confidence of Mr. Rather and top news division officials in the documents allayed fears within the network and created doubt among some in the news media at large that those specialists were correct. CBS News officials had said they had reason to be certain that the documents indeed came from the personal file of Colonel Killian.
Sandy Genelius, a network spokeswoman, said last week, "We are confident about the chain of custody; we're confident in how we secured the documents.''
But officials decided yesterday that they would most likely have to declare that they were misled about the records' origin after Mr. Rather and a top network executive, Betsy West, met in Texas with a man who was said to have helped the news division obtain the memos, a former Guard officer named Bill Burkett.
Mr. Rather interviewed Mr. Burkett on camera this weekend, and several people close to the reporting process said his answers to Mr. Rather's questions led officials to conclude that their initial confidence that the memos came from Mr. Killian's own files was not warranted. These people indicated that Mr. Burkett had previously led the producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, to have the utmost confidence in the material.
It was unclear last night whether Mr. Burkett told Mr. Rather that he had been misled about the documents' provenance or that he had been the one who did the misleading.
In an e-mail message yesterday, Mr. Burkett declined to answer any questions about the documents.
Yesterday, Emily J. Will, a document specialist who inspected the records for CBS News and said last week that she had raised concerns about their authenticity with CBS News producers, confirmed a report in Newsweek that a producer had told her that the source of the documents had said they were obtained anonymously and through the mail.
During an interview last night she declined to name the producer who told her this but said that the producer had been in a position to know. CBS News officials have disputed her contention that she warned the network the night before the initial "60 Minutes'' report that it would face questions from documents experts.
In the coming days CBS News officials plan to focus on how the network moved ahead with the report when there were warning signs that the memorandums were not genuine.
Ms. Will is one of two documents experts consulted by the network who said they raised doubts about the material before the segment was broadcast. Another expert, Marcel B. Matley, said in interviews that he had only vouched for Colonel Killian's signatures on the records and not the authenticity of the records themselves. Mr. Matley said he could not rule out that the signatures were cut and pasted from official records pertaining to Colonel Killian.
In examining where the network went wrong, officials at CBS News were turning their attention to Ms. Mapes, one of their most respected producers, who was riding particularly high this year after breaking news about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal for the network.
In a telephone interview this weekend, Josh Howard, the executive producer of the "60 Minutes'' Wednesday edition, said he did not initially know who was Ms. Mapes' primary source for the documents but that he did not see any reason to doubt them. He said he believed Ms. Mapes and her team had appropriately answered all questions about the documents' authenticity and, he noted, no one seemed to be casting doubt upon the essential thrust of the report.
"The editorial story line was still intact, and still is, to this day,'' he said, "and the reporting that was done in it was by a person who has turned in decades of flawless reporting with no challenge to her credibility.''
He added, "We in management had no sense that the producing team wasn't completely comfortable with the results of the document analysis.''
Ms. Mapes has not responded to requests for comment.
Mr. Howard also said in the interview that the White House did not dispute the veracity of the documents when it was presented them on the morning of the report. That reaction, he said, was "the icing on the cake'' of the other reporting the network was conducting on the documents. White House officials have said they saw no reason to challenge documents that had been presented by a credible news organization.
Several people familiar with the situation said that they were girding for a particularly tough week for Mr. Rather and the news division should the network announce its new doubts.
One person close to the situation said the critical question would be, "Where was everybody's judgment on that last day?''
The guy is already bitter about his lot in life (his illness, benefits denied, and now he's mired in this controversy) that I doubt he'll stand for the further indignity of being a fall guy. He'll spill the beans--that is, if something doesn't happen to him first.
LOL. Home run!
I agree, but I think it's too much to hope for that CBS will give up anyone in the Kerry campaign. They'll say they got them directly from Burkett, dealt with Burkett, etc. IF the Kerry people have any sense at all they didn't provide any physical evidence directly to CBS, they probably just helped CBS to get together with Burkett and told CBS that Burkett could be trusted (yeah, right).
I think both Rather/Mapes and Burket/Van Os will go to their graves before they give up Cleland or anyone in the Kerry camp. Unfortunately, I expect the best we can hope for is a major shake-up within CBS and a prosecution of Burkett, but Rather and his pals in CBS will fight to make Mapes the only scapegoat there..... I say fire everyone who touched this story and prosecute Burkett to the limit!
That's too much. What a zinger
WAIT A MINUTE! I'VE BROKEN THE CASE!!! I GET IT!!!! Capt'n Dan channeled Col Killian, and had Bill Burkett type 'em and fax 'em to make it look convincing.....yeah ...that's it!
That is very, very funny...
Is that the first time (not genuine) that they are admitting the memos are fake, or did I miss it?
CBS owes the President an apology for sure
and the partisan pajamahadeen...
It must really suck to be a delusional DUmmy. The diabolically eeevil Karl Rove must give them feverish nightmares.
Don't forget Kinko's, folks. The oh-so-important memos were faxed from a freakin' Kinko's, later to be trotted out on 60 Minutes 2 as "news."
"What are the bugles blowin' for?" said Files-on-Parade.
"To turn you out, to turn you out", the Colour-Sergeant said.
"What makes you look so white, so white?" said Files-on-Parade.
"I'm dreadin' what I've got to watch", the Colour-Sergeant said.
For they're hangin' Danny Rather, you can hear the Dead March play,
The Regiment's in 'ollow square -- they're hangin' him to-day;
They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away,
An' they're hangin' Danny Rather in the mornin'.
Don't be too sure about Burkett holding info back after they burn him, he's a well documented, A-1, whack job who holds a big grudge. So in that regard we still got hope.
Dan's going to "break" the forgery story!!!
WELCOME TO THE PARTY PAL!!!
The NYTimes. Now Rather/CBS. The big lib wall is made of rotting paper mache.
And that's the way it was...
Remember the graphic Rather sat in front of for his stonewall statement?
was prominently above his head.
Now some have thought this was a signal that she was to blame and she would have to go as scapegoat.
But I wonder about something else.
Mary knows where a lot of DNC bodies are buried. Was this a signal that if Rather and Mapes were not vigorously defended by the rest of the media that the Democrats and the liberal cause would pay?
My husband thinks Abu Ghraib was a set-up, that soldiers were persuaded or paid to get them incrimating photos for a big Bush attack story.
Wonder what other bodies Mary Mapes knows about.
The perfect foil. I guarantee you, his DNC-appointed lawyer is NOT working for HIM.
Burkett is about to be fed to the wolves.
Awwwwww and she did such great work tearing down our miliary over the Abu Graib abuses. I mean, that was great liberal-media, classic spin-n-bias ... pity she let herself get caught trying to smear President Bush.
Then they can dredge up Abu Ghraib again. (Not that it'll help them.)
I just hope they don't destroy the 'out-takes.' The complete 'interview' may have to be subpoenaed at some point.
Hey, we've beat their arses so bad, we might as well take their catchlines...
*I* am BuckHead.
Oh, Rove is a god to the DUmmies. He's everywhere and omnipotent. He sees all and is control of every thing that happens. You would not believe their tiny minds.
Meet the fall girl. She's probably as venomously anti-conservative as anyone else, but I'd bet everything I own that it was Dan Rather who led the charge to take this story to air. They're gonna protect the old fossil and trash her as the one responsible.
My read is that Rather and Mapes have lost control of this matter at CBS. Network (the $$ folks) are stepping in to cut their losses and salvage what they can. Ms. Mapes will get her 'golden parachute" for "decades of flawless reporting" and announce she wants to spend more time reconciling with her dad in Seattle. Rather will limp on as a very discredited newsreader until after the election. The public will laugh about "forgeries" everywhere, and that's positive for GW. What remains to be seen if any tie to the DNC and the Kerry campaign will be dug up. That's Pulitizer material.
another shot a President Bush's Records
( I guess no rats have ever been in the military and tried to type with govt typewriters on govt forms!)
Well, notice that Ms. Mapes *didn't* accompany Dan Rathers out to Texas yesterday to interview Burkett. They sent Ms. West, instead.
So clearly they have pulled Mapes already, which means that *she* is toast no matter how everything else plays out.
But this brings up Mapes' scandal from 5 years ago.
Back in 1999, Ms. Mapes defied a federal judge (you try that one) by refusing to release the interviews tapes (plural) of the 3 men (among others) convicted and sentenced to death for the dragging death of a Black man in Texas while GWB was Governor there. CBS "negotiated" that only the transcripts, written up by CBS, be given to the judge (you try that one), and the judge then spared her from prison for contempt.
That whole "dragging death" was played up politically when it had no political meaning...and yet there was Ms. Mapes ready to go to jail rather than release those interview tapes.
Why was such a radical feminist like Ms. Mapes prepared to go to jail until the 2000 election was over, rather than release those tapes?
They still haven't been released. What the heck is *in* or on those tapes?!
...And in light of "The Wall Within" and the current Mapes/Rather forgery scandal, shouldn't *someone* be asking for those tapes now?!
The AWB Has Expired - Gun Owners Have Won Again For All Americans!
True, true, and he does have a strong streak of paranoia, so he could come to see a lot of his liberal friends as part of "the enemy" if they throw him to the wolves.
Still, even if he goes nuclear I think he'd concentrate on hurting CBS and not on hurting Kerry.... but who knows, he certainly is a loose cannon.
During the Republican National Convention in New York, Rather got a call from Ben Barnes, a onetime Texas lieutenant governor and veteran Democrat who has known the anchor, a former Houston TV reporter, for 30 years. Barnes said he was ready to say before the cameras that he had pulled strings to get Bush a coveted slot in the Texas Guard in 1968. Mapes had long been urging Barnes to tell his story.
On Friday, Sept. 3, the day after the convention ended, Mapes hit pay dirt. She told Howard her source had given her the documents. Within hours, Mapes began calling around to find independent analysts who could examine the handful of memos said to have been written by Killian. She found one in Dallas, who helped put her in touch with three others.
The next stop was Texas. Rather was in Florida, so CBS chartered a plane to get him to Austin. On Sunday, Sept. 5, he and Mapes interviewed Robert Strong, an administrative assistant in the Texas Guard during Bush's service there. Strong told them the memos were compatible with what he knew of Killian but did not claim to have seen them before. "I cannot recall that Jerry Killian talked about Bush, and am not sure he would have discussed it with me," Strong recently told The Washington Post.
Rather said he grew more confident when Mapes began speaking with retired Col. Bobby W. Hodges, Killian's superior in the Guard. Hodges said Killian felt that Bush had been treated too leniently in those days. That was important, in Rather's view, because Hodges remained a staunch supporter of the president. But Hodges later said that he felt "misled" by CBS, that the memos were read to him over the phone and that he believes from discrepancies in the military abbreviations that they are forgeries.
After the show, one colleague asked an elated Rather whether he was sure the documents were real. "I have never been more confident of a story in my life," he said.
Asked at the time whether there was at least a slight chance that the documents were bogus, Heyward said: "I see no percentage of possibility."
CBS executives declined to address news accounts that pinpoint Burkett as the confidential source for the documents but say they weighed the fact that anyone turning over the material would not be a fan of the president. Burkett would not comment on whether he supplied the documents but said by e-mail to The Post that he would "encourage everyone to not cast too many doubts prematurely" on the "60 Minutes" broadcast.
Rather said that if the memos were indeed faked, "I'd like to break that story." But whatever the verdict on the memos, he said, critics "can't deny the story."
As the days begin to blur for Josh Howard, he embraces the same logic: "So much of this debate has focused on the documents, and no one has really challenged the story. It's been frustrating to us to see all this reduced to a debate over little 'th's."
possible??? beginning to believe??? Incredible!! all SeeBS has is a 86 year old pool secretary claiming she remembers something 30 years ago!! gee whiz, maybe their phony investigation will be completed by the time the election is over, meanwhile they haven't officialy retracted the bogus story.
SeeBS apologize now!!!
I tend more towards 'EVIL'
"Mr. Rather and others at the network are said to still believe that the sentiment in the memos accurately reflected Mr. Killian's feelings"
This should be under a barf alert!
Rather and others at the network have the audacity to think they knew Mr. Killian's feelings better than his own wife and family ????
This is just going too far! Anyone with an ounce of reasoning should use every tool they have to not only run Rather out of the news business, but make certain he and the others at the network are tarred and feathered first!
This remark just makes me sick! What a bunch of losers! CBS no longer exists in my life and NEVER will again!
I just love Dubya! He speaks in cryptograms to signal us he's in touch while he "aw shucks" his competition into thinking he's too stupid to tie his own shoes let alone lead a deadly campaign against them.
And his sly skewers just crack us up.
I was redirected from a double posted thread, to find over 200 posts. All I wanted to say was I hope to see an empty anchor chair and a sign on his desk, "Dan has left the building."
It is essential that Rather go soon, in the next three weeks. In no way should he be allowed to stay and influence the election. I'm going to write the local station for the heads of Rather, Mapes, and the Pres of the News Division. If not done in the next few weeks - before the election, CBS National News and the local CBS News is never to be seen in my house. There are other places to get that information. If the local NFL team is on CBS, I'll watch that week. I'm not going to tell my wife what soap operas to watch. But when there is a choice, CBS is not the choice. The only way to avoid that and counteract the blatant forgery and bias against the president and honest reporting is to clean house now. Only then will CBS be considered in the future. And I've owned what is now Viacom since Paramount Pictures was part of Gulf & Western.
Libs: "AHA! That proves it! Bush lied! Dan Rather's source used a computer instead of a typewriter and it most certainly wasn't 'productive!'"
Nevertheless, it is my view and the view of others of the same high moral caliber as myself who consider ourselves objective and reliable gator flappers that the INTENT OR SENTIMENT IF YOU WILL OF THESE ALLEGATIONS OF BESTIALITY COMMITTED BY MR. RATHER ACCURATELY REFLECT THE "FEELINGS" OF MY "RESPONSIBLE" SOURCES. THEREFORE MR RATHER. I DEMAND YOU ANSWER THE QUESTIONS!
DO YOU HAVE SEX WITH LIVESTOCK EITHER IN TEXAS OR CENTRAL PARK? I HAVE BEEN TOLD THIS IS TRUE BY FOLKS WHO CLAIM SUCH ALLEGATIONS WHETHER AUTHENTIC OR NOT, ACCURATELY REFLECT THEIR SENTIMENT....SO ANSWER THE QUESTION SIR?
Breaking news. CBS News concludes that the Earth is NOT flat.
Between this tantalizing rumor and the fact that the head of Viacom is now selling off stock like a drunken sailor spends money, its been a history-making week.
Thank you Kcvl for posting that .. I had not seen it before
Notice the similarities with what some in the press/media are doing today?
I vote for his using them to achieve his purposes.