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Sept. 25, 2004

CBS, Rather admit Bush military documents may be false

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Earlier this week, amid controversy over the validity of the recently released documents saying President Bush skirted his military duty in Texas, CBS News said it can no longer confirm that the memos from Colonel Jerry Killian are real.

Questions have abounded since the release of the documents two weeks ago that were allegedly from the late Texas Air National Guard Colonel Jerry Killian, who said that he gave President George W. Bush preferential treatment in the guard and in making up lost flight hours.

On Monday night's CBS Evening News, anchor Dan Rather apologized for what had happened and said that he personally "was sorry." Rather added, "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." Rather also admitted that he "wasn't as good on this story as I would have liked to have been."

The network, which has been deeply hurt by this scandal, also revealed their "unimpeachable source." The man is former Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, who has called Bush a liar that has "demonic personality shortcomings."

Burkett now admits that he lied about who he got the documents from, but says he did it because Rather's Dallas-based producer, Mary Mapes, pressured him to reveal the source.

CBS News President Andrew Heyward admits that CBS rushed the story, which aired on the Sept. 8 episode of 60 Minutes II despite concerns expressed by some of the CBS-hired document experts that the memos could not have been made on a 1972 typewriter. "In retrospect, we shouldn't have used the documents, and we clearly should have spent more time and more effort to authenticate them," Heyward admitted to The Washington Post.

CBS has been chided by many for standing by this story defiantly up until Monday, even though the general public had many doubts about the documents well before then. Some have called for Rather himself to be fired since he is the Editor-in-Chief of CBS News.

CBS News announced today that it would be forming a commission to study how it was misled about the documents. The members of the committee have not been finalized, but according to CBS News, one of those on the staff will be former Pennsylvania governor Dick Thornburgh.

As for Rather's future, the CBS Evening News has been in last place in the nightly news rating out of the three main stations for a while now, and there has been speculation that this could be the end of a two-decade long run for him as the head anchorman of the CBS Evening News.

Rather, who replaced Walter Cronkite in the mid-1980s, was a Houston television reporter prior to being hired by CBS News. The native Texan has been in broadcast journalism for over 30 years.

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  • Michael Thau (View Email) on September 25, 2004
    Your story on the CBS scandal omitted the most important detail - the connections between CBS and the Kerry staff in regards to this story. For a major news station to appear to be assisting in a Presidential campaign is an even larger scandal for CBS. Why the omission?
  • rick peirson (View Email) on September 25, 2004
    CBS & Dan Rather are two dinosaurs which should have become extinct by now. Hopefully the time has now come. DIE.
  • Msj. Scott Price, USA (Ret.) (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    I can't wait for Dan rather and "60 Minutes" to break the news about Santa Claus the week before Christmas. As a former reporter and registered Democrat all I can say is "Shame on you all!" Scott Price
  • dawn on September 26, 2004
    weneed to get rid of all liberal media personelle
  • JACK WALLEY (View Email) on September 26, 2004
  • William Delaney (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    Wow - I'm Shocked totally Shocked

    "In retrospect, we shouldn't have used the documents, and we clearly should have spent more time and more effort to authenticate them," Heyward admitted to The Washington Post."

    Clearly these fools at CBS wanted to believe, (but let not the facts intervene). What they believe is true as they and only they know what is true. Dan Rather is a biased reporter that has tarnished his reputation and should step aside to let true journalism and reporting prevail. If his reporting is the way of the future GOD help us all. It is so sad that he so wanted to believe in something that he would use forged documents to prove what he and his "liberal? Friends "BELIEVED AND FELT" to be true. Iím sure he still feelís it to be true (to hell with the facts as he feellllís it is true and in his world that make it FACT)

    What ever happened to "innocent until proven guilty" I guess Dan Rather doesn't believe in that part of the constitution.

    I'm Shocked Totally Shocked - NOT
  • Ernie Aufenkamp (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    Get rid of Rather and do it on camera and I would suspect CBS news might come back up if you return to honest news reporting instead of hyping news just for ratings.

    Ernie Aufenkamp
    Mission, TX
  • louis springborg (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    its about time that rather got caught, this time I think he must go and anyone else connected to this, cbs has done this type of reporting before clean house CBS news ....
  • Joe on September 26, 2004
    Who are you people?
  • Frank Tusa (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    I was wary shocked learning the news. Hopefully the premeditated, politically motivated criminal act end up in wary serious fine for CBS and jell terms for criminals. Discrediting the country using forged documents and lying statements, I personally could not imagine more severe act of immorality. I firmly reject any chameleon kind of apology the act is not human error. The crime could not be aquited with apology, jell term for these partnership. If discrediting the USA is professional challenge for CBS, the FTC should revoke the business license from socially dangerous organizations. Whu counterfeited the documents are legally responsible for his action, and the corrupt CBS responsible for unfair business practice. I fell wary hurt.
  • Paul Sliger (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    Bush haters will beleive ANYTHING bad about our president. It is amazing how the "mainstream media" downplays the connection of "the impeachable source story" and the Kerry campaign.
  • clyde rhodes (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    I watched cbs for years as it was the main news channel I received..I quit watching it several years ago as I believed it to be very patisian. Even back when walter cronkite was the newsman it was a partisian newscast most of the time.Since walter retired he has demonstrated that he is a Ted Kennedy follower which verified my feelings.Dan Rather should be fired immediately.This is about the 4th time he has been wrong and is a smart alec anyway
  • Bob Davis (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    CBS was fined $550,000 for a 2 second mishap with Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl.... Dan Rather and his team slandered the President of the United States for over a week. This type of news reporting is intentional with no cares about the truth. Destroy a persons reputation, if you get caught say "I'm Sorry". Rather and the entire CBS news group involved with these lies should be fined and fired.
  • Sick O'Liberals (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    Wow, who could beleive that the same network that let Connie Chung air an interveiw with Newt Gingrich's mom calling Hillary a [expletive deleted] would try to attck W? CBS is so blatantly biased that they are no longer credible. Perhaps they can dump their news program and air an hour's worth of "wardrobe malfunctions" in it's place
  • C. Cooper (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    CBS is banned in our home.

    It is time for RATHER TO GO for three reasons:

    One, even after the documents were proven false he stupidly stated "the thrust of the story is true". How can the thrust of a false document be true?

    Two, again after the documents were proven false and he stated the trust of the story was true he had the audacity to DEMAND the President of the United States answer his questions. The questions had been completely answered many times. Rather is so filled with hatred he is blind.

    Three, Rather is arrogrant, biased, partisan, has no credibility and NO ONE will trust anything Rather says in the future.

    When Rather's voice is heard the throught of the viewer/listener will be - this is the Democrat who used false documents and CBS to influence a presidential election in the time of war.
  • agent mulder on September 26, 2004
    I think the same person posted all of the comments on this page.
  • What? on September 26, 2004
    What about Fox? They are 10 times more biased and partisan than CBS. And C. Cooper, no the questions have never been answered. George W. Bush has never proven that he served his country in the National Guard. "How can the thrust of a false document be true?" What a stupid question. Are you implying that just because some yahoo somewhere prints up fake documents, all of a sudden Bush DID serve? No, there is no hard evidence either way, but knowing Bush and what a prancing, rich white sissy boy liar he is, I refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    And speaking of lying to influence a presidential election, what are you so shocked about? The Swift Boats for "Truth" undoubtedly had ties to the Bush campaign, and the "liberal" media actually gave credibility to a bunch of disgusting liars who tried to tarnish the military service of the one person in this campaign who DID serve his country.
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    Honestly, I think CBS got duped. There is no evidence whatsoever that they ran this story to be sinister and to hurt President Bush's election hopes; it was just sloppy fact-checking. CBS ihas goten major scoops thanks to investigative journalism before; they broke Abu Ghraib last spring. They just messed up this time. I wouldn't be shocked if Mapes is let go; I would be stunned if Rather is.
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on September 26, 2004
    "Your story on the CBS scandal omitted the most important detail - the connections between CBS and the Kerry staff in regards to this story. For a major news station to appear to be assisting in a Presidential campaign is an even larger scandal for CBS. Why the omission?"

    --Because to report something that has not been proven would be intentionally dishonest reporting.
  • angry liberal on September 26, 2004
    To everyone complaining about the 'slander' of President Bush inspired by falsehoods, have you ever heard of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Look there for some good character assassination and despicable mudslinging.
  • Mr. Special on September 27, 2004
    I'm tired of all you people complaining that you're tired of liberal journalism. They are nothing compared to the consertive news base and their pile o' lies. Just watch fox news to see what I'm talking about.
  • fact-checker on September 27, 2004
    Sy Hersch of the New Yorker broke Abu Graib.
  • Sophomore on September 27, 2004
    At least Rather apologized when he realized he had erred. Meanwhile, more than a thousand Americans have died in a war that was justified with intelligence we now know to be false. Still no apology there.
  • . on September 27, 2004
    Yeah its funny how now one knows about that. But theres such a big deal about kerry's purple harts might not be earned.
  • Anarchist on September 27, 2004
    Who wrote all of those paragraphs? Were they even Blair students?
  • whats with the outofstate comm on September 28, 2004
    its funny how some people think jail is spelled jell.
  • Ring (View Email) on September 28, 2004
    "What about Fox? They are 10 times more biased and partisan than CBS"

    A Measure of Media Bias

    go read... and learn...
  • A real reporter on September 29, 2004
    As a professional reporter, I am appalled by Dan Rather's total lack of journalistic integrity. Granted, everyone makes mistakes, including the "big names" like Rather. HOWEVER, every reporter worth his or her weight in ink knows that you don't break a major story like this without checking and double-checking your facts. If someone submitted such "documents" to me, I'd want to know where they were obtained, when and how. Then I'd submit them for analysis to experts...apparently, Mr. Rather was too hurried to really bother with such trivialities. In pursuit of the "big scoop," he broke the "story" without checking his facts. Investigative journalism is good, like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein at Watergate; what Mr. Rather did was not investigative journalism. It wasn't journalism at all - it was shoddy workmanship and biased, arrogant reporting. If you're going to break a story like this accusing the President of the United States of wrongdoing, you'd better be darn sure you're right and your facts are solid.

    Any other reporter at any other news agency - print, radio or television - in the United States would have been fired for this. Mr. Rather should be fired, or at least removed from leadership at CBS. He's proven that he is no journalist. And he gives those of us who are professionals a bad name.
  • re: Ring on September 29, 2004
    The Measure of Media Bias that you refer to is not intelligent. Nice try, but dropping ideas from certain think tanks doesn't mean a whole lot. Far more meaningful is the fact that regular Fox viewers are more likely to believe Bush-spewed falsehoods than watchers of other networks. Just type "fox misleads viewers" into google and check it out.
  • boo (View Email) on September 29, 2004
    "a real reporter:" who do you write for?
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on September 29, 2004
    "Your story on the CBS scandal omitted the most important detail - the connections between CBS and the Kerry staff in regards to this story. For a major news station to appear to be assisting in a Presidential campaign is an even larger scandal for CBS. Why the omission?"

    --Because what you said isn't true.
  • Anonymous on September 30, 2004
    look it up;

    there are many more websites profiling a link between kerry and the cbs story. abc even had a story about it
  • rc on January 10, 2005 at 9:23 PM
    i think this was very wrong. Although a story is a story and we can't blame Dan Rather. It seems as though he's going to be remembered for this scandal and not for his incredible history.
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