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Quote of the Day
September 28, 2004
As Bush's lead in Florida continued to shrink, Dan Rather decided to put it back in his "undecided" column. The networks' withdrawal of their Florida prediction disrupted and confused the crowd outside Bush's campaign headquarters:
"Well, Bill Whitaker, you can tell them we welcome them to the club because frankly we don't know whether to run, to watch or bark at the moon."
--Election coverage, November 8, 2000.
Stakeout: The reporters gathered, but Dan was a no-show. Bob Schieffer anchored the day's news.
January 11, 1005 | 13:00:34 EST
Whew. After serving files to over 500,000 vistors yesterday, RatherBiased.com's servers are operating at full speed. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our web host Accelerate Biz, RatherBiased.com was able to stay afloat. Barring any more hit deluges (thank you Drudge), we'll be posting all of our updates over at our upgraded news database.
January 11, 1005 | 11:15:23 EST
We're swamped right now with email, press calls, and trying to get all of these postings over into our database. While we're working at all of that, visit TV Newser's extensive collection of links to the traditional media's coverage of Memogate.
January 11, 1005 | 07:48:22 EST
The blog world is abuzz with conversations about CBS's report. Here are a few sites to keep an eye on:
Ace, Beldar, Captain Ed, Corante, Galley Slaves, Hugh Hewitt, Jeff Jarvis, INDCjournal, Instapundit, Jim Geraghty, La Shawn Barber, Little Green Footballs , Powerline, Roger Simon, Sundries Shack, and Wizbang.
Joe Gandelman over at The Moderate Voice is maintaining an ongoing roundup of blog reactions.
January 11, 1005 | 07:00:48 EST
Mary Mapes, the producer behind the original "60 Minutes" report, issued the following statement to the media:
I am terribly disappointed in the conclusions of the report and its effects on the four of us who will no longer work at CBS News. I am disappointed as well for the entire organization. It has been my second family and I will miss my colleagues there.
I am shocked by the vitriolic scape-goating in Les Moonves's statement. I am very concerned that his actions are motivated by corporate and political considerations . ratings rather than journalism. Mr. Moonves's response to the review panel's report and the panel's assessment of the evidence it developed in its investigation combine not only to condemn me, but to put all investigative reporting in the CBS tradition at risk.
Much has been made about the fact that these documents are photocopies and therefore cannot be trusted, but decades of investigative reporting have relied on just such copies of memos, documents and notes. In vetting these documents, we did not have ink to analyze, original signatures to compare, or paper to date. We did have context and corroboration and believed, as many journalists have before and after our story, that authenticity is not limited to original documents. Photocopies are often a basis for verified stories.
Before the Bush/Guard story aired, the newly found documents that supported it were thoroughly examined and corroborated. The contents of the new documents mesh perfectly, in large ways and small, with all previously known records. The new documents also were corroborated by retired Gen. Bobby Hodges, the late Col. Killian's commander, who said that the documents showed Col. Killian's true sentiments as well as his actions in the case. After the broadcast, Marian Carr Knox provided the same corroboration in her televised interview. Yet, despite the panel's recognition of the heretofore unchalleneged integrity of my work in the past, the panel was quick to condemn me here on the basis of statements of people who told my associates and me very different versions than what they told the panel.
I cooperated fully with the review panel, provided them with more than 1,000 pages of reporting and background materials and answered each and every one of their questions completely and truthfully. To the extent that my answers differed from others' statements, I can only emphasize my own honesty and integrity in attempting to reconstruct the details of the days leading up to the story's airing.
It is noteworthy the panel did not conclude that these documents are false. Indeed, in the end, all that the panel did conclude was that there were many red flags that counseled against going to air quickly. I never had control of the timing of any airing of a 60 Minutes segment; that has always been a decision made by my superiors. Airing this story when it did, was also a decision made by my superiors, including Andrew Heyward. If there was a journalistic crime committed here, it was not by me. Those superiors also made the decision to give the White House little time to consider or respond to the Killian documents. Contrary to the conclusions of the panel, I vetted all aspects of the story with my editors. In fact, as I have always done with my editors, I told them everything.
I believe the segment presented to the American people facts they were free to accept or reject, and that as those facts were presented, there was nothing that was false or misleading. I am heartened to see that the panel found no political bias on my part, as indeed I have none. For 25 years, I have built a reputation as a fair, honest and thorough journalist. I have had 15 wonderful years at CBS News and four very bad months. I love and respect the people there and I wish them every good fortune.
January 11, 2005 | 06:28:21 EST
RatherBiased.com's Matthew Sheffield will be appearing on several radio stations across the country this morning. Many of these stations stream their content over the net. More stations to be listed here throughout the day.
January 11, 2005 | 06:24:17 EST
We're in the process of preparing a timeline of the entire Memogate scandal. Please send all relevant links to firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 11, 2005 | 4:22:35 EST
The panel looking into Memogate was troubled by the cutting and pasting Rather and his producers did to an interview Rather conducted with former Lieutenant Robert Strong of the Air National Guard. The splicing created the impression that Strong was referring to Bush when speaking of those who avoid military service.
CBS also ignored information that Bush actually volunteered to serve in Vietnam, an uncomfortable fact that never made its way into CBS's defacto political ad.
Narration by Rather: Robert Strong says he saw many well-connected young men pull strings and avoid service in Vietnam.
Rather: Why would these men do this? Didn't conscience come into play somewhere here?
Strong: What you saw here is the way power works. Power begets power. Power goes to power to get more power. And if you have a little bit of power and someone offers you an opportunity to gain more power by doing power a favor, this is what power does. It trades on itself. It feeds on itself. This is the way the system worked. This is the way state government worked, this is the way the Guard worked.
The clear inference from this excerpt is that President Bush was in the TexANG to avoid service in Vietnam. Bush did state in his 1968 TexANG application that he did not volunteer to go overseas. However, Mapes had information prior to the airing of the September 8 Segment that President Bush, while in the TexANG, did volunteer for service in Vietnam but was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots. For example, a flight instructor who served in the TexANG with Lieutenant Bush advised Mapes in 1999 that Lieutenant Bush "did want to go to Vietnam but others went first." Similarly, several others advised Mapes in 1999, and again in 2004 before September 8, that Lieutenant Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam but did not have enough flight hours to qualify. The Panel is troubled that this excerpt was used when there was information that contradicted, or at least weakened, the implication of the exchange between Rather and Lieutenant Strong.
The Panel finds that virtually every excerpt used from the Lieutenant Strong interview was either inaccurate or misleading. Indeed, the Panel questions whether any Lieutenant Strong excerpts should have been used at all, given his total lack of personal knowledge.
January 11, 2005 | 3:06:24 EST
Dan Rather announced in November that he would be leaving the anchor chair of the CBS Evening News in March. The three-month gap would presumably give the bigwigs at CBS more time to come up with a replacement. But a more plausible explanation is that his announcement would eliminate Dan Rather as a target for disciplinary action once CBS released the findings of its "indepedent" commission. CBS president Les Moonves said as much, horrifying those inside CBS who wanted to maintain the illusion that Rather made his announcement for more benign reasons.
"Dan Rather has already apologized for the segment and taken responsibility for his part in the broadcast. He voluntarily moved to set a date to step down from the CBS Evening News in March of 2005."
Rather's announcement, made before the release of the panel's findings, also has not allowed Les Moonves more time to find a replacement. In other words, if Rather were to announce his stepping down today, instead of a month ago, Moonves would still have the same amount of time to locate a successor.
Said the network president in today's New York Times, "I'm no closer to a decision on that than I was when Dan made the announcement in November that he was stepping down."
So what has pushing up Rather's retirement given CBS? Apparently, one less defrocked journalist.
January 11, 2005 | 2:49:43 EST
The folks at Accuracy in Media have an interesting essay arguing that for his role in Memogate, CBS White House correspondent John Roberts, seen by some as an in-house replacement for Rather, should have received the ax as well.
"The report says that Roberts had interviewed Burkett for a February 12, 2004 CBS Evening News broadcast--months before the anti-Bush hit piece aired--and aired a portion of that interview, even though Roberts had found Burkett "unreliable."
John Roberts was assigned to go to the White House and present the documents, which originated from Burkett, to White House communications director Dan Bartlett. CBS gave the White House only three and one-half hours to review the documents before Roberts asked for the White House view on their authenticity. Roberts told Bartlett the Memos came from "the personal file of a former commander" in the National Guard.
Says AIM, "When Bartlett did not immediately denounce them as forgeries, Roberts provided that information to '60 Minutes' producer Mary Mapes, as if Bartlett's refusal to disavow the documents meant that they were authentic. This was seen as the critical green light for Mapes (and Rather) to go ahead with the bogus story." Bartlett later said that CBS could have given the White House the documents "much earlier so we had more time to verify them."
In summation, the AIM report says John Roberts "was in a position to stop this fraudulent story before it aired. He did not." Furthermore, he was "guilty of helping to perpetuate this journalistic fraud."
January 11, 2005 | 2:29:24 EST
Reports Matt Drudge:
CBS staffers were shocked Monday when CBS president Les Moonves suddenly tied Rather's upcoming resignation to the phony document flap, a departure from CBS's official storyline.
Moonves explained in a memo: "Dan Rather has already apologized for the segment and taken responsibility for his part in the broadcast. He voluntarily moved to set a date to step down from the CBS EVENING NEWS in March of 2005... after examining the report and thinking about its implications, we believe any further action would not be appropriate."
In the emotional speech to the CBS newsroom first announcing his resignation last November, Rather was very clear to co-workers that his departure from the evening news was not because of the Bush story.
"No matter what you hear elsewhere, this was a mutual decision," Rather explained. "The timing has to do with wanting to separate the decision to leave the anchor chair from the 60 MINUTES report."
January 10, 2005 | 8:15:23 EST
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked about CBS's troubles during Monday's press briefing. The morning briefing was too early for McClellan to have read the entire report and form a conclusive opinion.
QUESTION: The other thing is, today CBS has fired four of its personnel who were involved in the story about the
President's service in the National Guard. Any comment on that?
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, we felt all along that it was important for CBS to get to the bottom of this. CBS has taken steps to hold people accountable, and we appreciate those steps. We also hope that CBS will take steps to prevent something like this from happening again. I think that the report by the panel that investigated the matter makes some recommendations it says CBS should consider. And that's what our position is.
QUESTION: Four people have been fired. There's a 224-page report and an eight-page statement --
McCLELLAN: I see you have it there in your hand.
QUESTION: -- that's been released. Not a single word of apology to the President for this episode. Is the White House disappointed in that? Or is that --
McCLELLAN: Well, in fairness, I think CBS has previously expressed regret about this story airing. In terms of the specific report, it's just been released this morning. I'm not sure if everybody has had a chance to fully review the report and look at what the recommendations are, and look at all the issues they looked at to come to their conclusions.
QUESTION: How did the President learn of the CBS development? And what was his direct reaction?
McCLELLAN: His reaction is my reaction to the report. And he was reformed -- informed this morning right after reports hit the wires.
Those "asked" to resign: 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer Josh Howard (R), Senior Vice President Betsy West (C), and senior broadcast producer Mary Murphy (L).
Fired: 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes.
January 10, 2005 | 7:55:05 EST
Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard says that the commissioners provided no proof of a lack of political motivation. "The only counter-evidence the report offers on this score are Mapes's and Rather's denials."
Over at TV Newser, there is an interview with Linda Mason, the new CBS Senior Vice President For Standards. Among other things, Mason says that on the day of the report's release, there was a "mixture of sadness and relief" among CBS staffers.
Other views at Uncorrelated.com, Pelican Post, and The Radio Equalizer
January 10, 2005 | 7:34:31 EST
To CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the former CBS correspondent and author of Bias, gave his opinion of the commission hired by CBS to look into Memogate. The panel decided that the problem wasn't bias, but a rush to report a story:
"The report concluded that there was no evidence of bias. And you know, in the reporting. And I agree, there was no evidence of bias. I'm not sure what evidence they thought they'd find. Did they think there was going to be a memo that said, let's stick to it George W. Bush? Of course there was no evidence....
"And I'm going a step further. I'm saying there was an agenda at work. I'm not saying that Dan Rather went into this saying, I'm going to get George Bush. It's never -- that is not the nature of bias in the news. It never, ever happens that way. But I am saying that he wanted this story to be true, and Mary Mapes sure wanted that story to be true. And did he depend too much on her? Yes, that's obvious. But if he didn't want this story to be true, if it didn't fit the culture of CBS' preconceived notions about liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans, it would have never seen the light of day and we would never be talking about it...
"I think when you're working with investigative producers -- and it's the scariest thing in the world -- I've worked with them -- when they fall in love with the story, head for the hills. Because you may have big, big problems, as we see here. But what I'm saying is, they didn't simply fall in love with a great story. They would have never -- I know these people, I know these people. And even more than knowing these people, I know the culture at CBS News. They would have never fallen in love with a story that made the other side look as bad as they made George Bush. They just wouldn't have."
January 10, 2005 | 6:59:33 EST
After an ugly encounter with a Fox reporter in the streets of Dallas last Fall, Dan avoided the reporters altogether who were camped out at his Broadcast Center. Bob Schieffer anchored tonight's news, and in an online preview of the program at CBSNews.com it says, "Dan Rather is on assignment."
Naturally, Rather's assignment will end tomorrow, as Bob Schieffer closed the program by announcing that "Dan Rather will be back tomorrow."
January 10, 2005 | 13:51:32 EST
As the Panel goes back to the beginning, it is not difficult to identify a litany of missteps that doomed the effort:
• A sometimes controversial source with a partisan point of view gave 60 Minutes Wednesday the documents. Only the most cursory effort – one unsuccessful attempt to contact the original source by telephone – was made to establish the chain of custody.
• Efforts at authentication failed miserably. Hired document examiners whose views went against the rush to air were cast aside. The four original document examiners became two and ultimately one, who opined only on one signature in one document. Nevertheless, the Segment contained an unsupported declaration of authenticity.
• Competitive zeal – the desire to be the first to break what was seen as a significant story – fed the rush to air to the point where holding the story to vet it more thoroughly became unthinkable because some other news organization might surely break the story.
• The person relied on as the so-called “trump card” to confirm the content of the Killian documents was not shown any documents before the Segment aired. He was merely read some or all of the content of the documents over the telephone. The Panel finds this unacceptable as a basis for provenance of a story that turned on the authenticity of pieces of paper. In the rush to air, basic reporting suffered.The Panel finds that in the rush to air, and with the Rather/Mapes team producing the
January 10, 2005 | 13:25:31 EST
SOURCES: CBS PRESIDENT MOONVES CLOSE TO SELECTING NEW ANCHOR FOR CBS EVENING NEWS... MORE...
January 10, 2005 | 13:53:21 EST
CBS's death by a thousand cuts continues elsewhere online: INDC, Instapundit, Wizbang.
January 10, 2005 | 13:14:49 EST
One of the overlooked figures in the Memogate scandal was one of CBS's other sources, former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes who contradicted his earlier statements that he had not gotten George W. Bush into the Air Guard when CBS told him of the Killian "memos."
CBS next directed White House correspondent John Roberts to talk to the White House about the allegations. In his conversation with Roberts, Communications Director Dan Bartlett, attacked the political motivations of Barnes yet somehow his remarks did not end up in the two pieces CBS ran on the Sept. 8 editions of "Evening" and "60 Wednesday." Here are the remarks CBS didn't want viewers to hear:
Well, I think generally it's obviously that it's-- election season now . That-- every time (UNINTEL) near another election, all the-- innuendo and rumors about (UNINTEL) service and the national guard come to the forefront . And-- the fact that it's coming up now, by the time we're (UNINTEL) reading the polls, it's not surprising that people like (UNINTEL), a long time activist, democrat activist who is a vice chairman of John Kerry (PH) would be-- making these--recycled charges at President Bush .
January 10, 2005 | 13:11:27 EST
CBS has so far not retracted its story. Today Roy Blunt, the Republican's third-in-command in the House, called on the network to retract the story.
Following CBS's ouster of four employees today, House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) called on CBS to retract anchor Dan Rather's September 8, 2004 story which called President Bush's National Guard service into question.
Blunt reacted strongly to an independent panel's conclusion that "CBS failed to follow basic journalistic principles" in researching and reporting the story based on documents that CBS has never proved are factual.
Blunt said, "An independent group has underscored what we already knew: CBS failed to uphold its most basic responsibility to its viewers when it aired a false and scurrilous story that deceived the American people and impugned their President."
"Now it is time for CBS to take the responsible step and formally retract the story," Blunt continued. "Certainly President Bush, after four months, deserves an on-air retraction."
According to the report issued today, "CBS News expects its personnel to adhere to published internal Standards based on two core principles: accuracy and fairness. The Panel finds that both the September 8 Segment itself and the statements and news reports by CBS News that followed the Segment failed to meet either of these core principles."
In September, Blunt gathered 40 signatures of his colleagues on a letter sent to CBS President Andrew Heyward, demanding that the network disavow its coverage of Bush's National Guard Service. The Members of Congress have not received a response.
January 10, 2005 | 1:15:20 EST
Says Co-editor Matthew Sheffield, "We're disappointed that the panel claimed there was not enough proof that those involved had political motivations. If the panel had made such a claim, CBS more than likely would have rejected the findings all together."
January 10, 2005 | 1:02:35 EST
Says CBS president Les Moonves, "Dan Rather has already apologized for the segment and taken personal responsibility for his part in the broadcast. He voluntarily moved to set a date to step down from the CBS Evening News anchor chair in March of 2005, which will give him more time to concentrate on his reporting for CBS NEWS. After examining the report and thinking about its implications, we believe any further action would not be appropriate."
January 10, 2005 | 12:38:55 EST
Page 206 of the report:
The Panel asked Rather about his interview with Marcia Kramer. Rather said that he did not want to do the interview or the apology on September 20, but Heyward and Schwartz asked him to do so. Rather said that he made his case as to why an apology was not appropriate and that management did not agree with him. Rather agreed to do the apology on September 20 and the Marcia Kramer interview because he is a .team player.. Rather informed the Panel that he still believes the content of the documents is true because .the facts are right on the money,. and that no one had provided persuasive evidence that the documents were not authentic.
It is clear that Rather.s joining in the apology given his role as the correspondent on the Segment and his status as CBS News. most visible presence was critical to its acceptance. The Panel finds his comments disavowing the apology to be troubling, notwithstanding that he said he regarded himself as carrying out what CBS News felt was in its best interest on September 20.
January 10, 2005 | 12:26:21 EST
The Memogate report being distributed by CBS and by Thornburgh's law firm is called "Microsoft Word -DC-685241-v10-Final_CBS_Report__sent_to_Lou_12_20_.DOC," implying that the report was finished by Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham on Dec. 20.
If you look at the Document Summary of the report, you can see it was last modified Jan. 7, last Friday.
January 10, 2005 | 12:14:09 EST
If you are blogging the report and want us to link to your analysis, send an email to email@example.com. Mark Koldys has a roundup. TVNewser is attempting to get reactions from the industry. Rathergate.com is also live blogging the report. Daily Blogster has more as does Scyllla & Charybdis.
January 10, 2005 | 11:50:56 EST
Both Dan Rather and Mary Mapes still hold out hope that the anti-Bush documents are valid. Mapes made a frantic, meager attempt to convince the panel that the documents were indeed valid:
Mapes made oral and written presentations to the Panel during its investigation in an effort to demonstrate that the content of the Killian documents was in fact authentic. These presentations were done primarily by comparing the Killian documents with official Bush records to show how well she believed that the Killian documents “meshed” with the official Bush records.
The Panel finds that the meshing analysis submitted by Mapes does not withstand scrutiny for two reasons. First, in many instances, the content of the Killian documents does not mesh well substantively with the official Bush records. Second, the Killian documents vary in significant ways from the standard format and jargon of documents issued by the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group in the early 1970s. Thus, the Panel believes that there remain substantial questions regarding the authenticity of the Killian documents. The Panel believes that careful reporting prior to airing the Segment should have identified these questions and, at a minimum, should have delayed the broadcast so that more reporting could be conducted.
In terms of meshing with the official Bush documents and the deviations in format, the Panel observes the following by way of example:
May 4, 1972 Memorandum. The official Bush records make no mention of this alleged order for Lieutenant Bush to take a physical, and Guardsmen who served with Lieutenant Colonel Killian, including Major General Hodges, Lieutenant Colonel Via and Colonel Martin, told the Panel that they never heard of any such order.
The format of this document varies from standard format:
The signature block is on the right, while standard format was for the block to be on the left.
Lieutenant Colonel Killian’s name is listed as “JERRY B. KILLIAN,” while it was standard for his name to be “JERRY B. KILLIAN, Lt Col, TexANG.”
Fighter Interceptor Squadron in the official Bush records is overwhelmingly abbreviated as “FIS”; in this Killian document, it is abbreviated as “F.I.S.”
May 19, 1972 Memo to File. The first paragraph pertaining to Lieutenant Bush’s obtaining equivalent training at a location in Alabama meshes reasonably well with the official Bush records.
August 1, 1972 Memorandum. This memorandum suggests that Lieutenant Colonel Killian verbally suspended Bush from flying status. However, the official Bush records document that it was then-Colonel Hodges who suspended Lieutenant Bush and that he did so solely because Lieutenant Bush had failed to take his flight physical and not for the additional reason that he had failed to meet TexANG standards.
The format of this document varies from standard format:
Same signature block location and format deviations as with the May 4, 1972 memorandum Lieutenant Colonel Killian is shown to have used only initials to sign this document. Lieutenant Colonel Killian always wrote out his full name in the official Bush records.
This document abbreviates Texas Air National Guard as “USAF/TexANG.” The official Bush records from the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group abbreviate it as “TexANG.”
The memorandum calls for the convening of a “flight review board.” The proper term is “Flying Evaluation Board.”
August 18, 1973 Memorandum. This memorandum states that retired General Staudt was putting pressure on then-Colonel Hodges to provide Lieutenant Bush with a good Officer Efficiency Report. No official Bush record supports this document and the Guardsmen interviewed by the Panel, including General Staudt and Major General Hodges, deny that General Staudt exerted any influence after he retired.
The language in this document varies from standard language:
The standard abbreviation for “Group” was “Gp”; this document abbreviates Group in two places as “Grp.”
This memorandum abbreviates Officer Efficiency Training Report as “OETR.” The official Bush records abbreviate it as “OER,” and Guardsmen confirmed for the Panel that OER is the correct abbreviation.
January 10, 2005 | 11:05:28
All 60 Minutes Wednesday stories go through a vetting process. The degree of vetting depends on a variety of factors, including whether the story is an investigative report and what information is presented in the segment. At a minimum, the vetting of all stories entails a review by Executive Producer Howard and Senior Broadcast Producer Murphy, a review by Senior Producer Kartiganer of the excerpts of interviews that are to be used in stories to ensure that they reflect a fair edit from the full interviews and a final fairness and accuracy screening by West. Sternberg and Altabef, who have been in-house counsel for CBS for over 20 years each, also may become involved in the vetting process depending on the type of story and issues involved.
The September 8 Segment should have received the highest degree of vetting because, among other reasons, the Segment:
- Was a major investigative piece that was produced in a very short period of time;
- Was pursued intermittently for over five years, which could cause the correspondent and producer to become too personally invested in the story;
- Was to be released in the middle of a presidential campaign and was highly negative to one candidate (President Bush);
- Involved a source who did not want his identity disclosed;
- Involved a second source who had never been located by 60 Minutes Wednesday;
- Relied on documents that could not be verified by their purported author because he was deceased;
- Relied on documents that were not originals; and
- Was the first original story aired under the direction of the new 60 Minutes Wednesday management team.
January 10, 2005 | 11:00:00
Greg Sheffield, one of the editors of RatherBiased.com released the following statement on the events surrounding the release of the CBS Memogate Commission Report:
"Everyone who got fired deserved to be fired. No one who was deeply involved in the production of a report based on fraudulent documents deserves to work in any news organization.
"Dan Rather very clearly saw the writing on the wall and decided to retire late last year, despite his and CBS's claims that he was not pressured.
"These firings are a good start toward the path of objectivity for CBS. But if the network wants to truly show that it is serious about being fair, it needs to fire News president Andrew Heyward who personally approved a public relations strategy of stonewalling and lying when confronted with evidence that CBS had erred."
This statement is not meant to be definitive.
January 10, 2005 | 10:44:04
Two different stories emerged about the source of the documents.
On August 23, 2004, Mapes learned from a source that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett might have a previously unreleased document related to President Bush?s TexANG service. Mapes believed that a number of news organizations were pursuing this same document from him. She and Michael Smith, a freelance journalist from Texas who was working with Mapes on this story, thereafter had a number of conversations with Lieutenant Colonel Burkett in an effort to determine whether he had the document. Ultimately, Mapes and Smith met with Lieutenant Colonel Burkett and his wife on Thursday, September 2, when Lieutenant Colonel Burkett provided Mapes and Smith with two of the Killian documents: the August 1, 1972 memorandum and another document dated June 24, 1973, which was not used on the September 8 Segment.
On September 5, Lieutenant Colonel Burkett provided Smith with four more documents, three of which were to be used on the September 8 Segment. Smith told the Panel that when Lieutenant Colonel Burkett provided the documents on September 2, he said that he had received them anonymously in the mail. Mapes had a different recollection of what Lieutenant Colonel Burkett said at the same meeting about the source of the documents. Mapes said that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett stated that he received the documents after he was interviewed on a national television show in February 2004 concerning President Bush?s TexANG service, but did not say how he received them or from whom. Mapes added that she spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Burkett on several occasions over the next couple of days to get more information about the source of the documents. Ultimately, Lieutenant Colonel Burkett told Mapes on either September 4 or 5 that he had received the documents from another former Texas Army National Guardsman, Chief Warrant Officer George Conn, a statement that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett would later admit was not true. Mapes and her team of associate producers did virtually nothing to attempt to contact Chief Warrant Officer Conn to confirm this story and further trace the chain of custody of the documents.
January 10, 2005 | 10:26:52
Let the blogging begin! Download the Memogate report.
UPDATE: More at the lawfirm of Memogate commissioner Richard Thornburgh.
January 10, 2005 | 10:08:17 EST
CBS News announced minutes ago that four employees will be leaving the network because of their actions in Memogate: Quoting CBS:
Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush's National Guard service.
The action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with "rigid and blind" defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.
Asked to resign were Senior Vice President Betsy West, who supervised CBS News primetime programs; 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard; and Howard's deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy. The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was terminated.
The correspondent on the story, CBS News anchor Dan Rather, is stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News.
The panel said a "myopic zeal" to be the first news organization to broadcast a groundbreaking story about Mr. Bush's National Guard service was a key factor in explaining why CBS News had produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet the organization's internal standards.
January 10, 2005 | 00:55:39 EST
The consensus among television observers is that CBS will be releasing the findings of the "independent" commission either tomorrow or today. On his Sunday night radio show, Matt Drudge said his sources are telling him it will be released later today. Click here to listen in.
Many thanks to Mark Koldys for the audio excerpt.
January 09, 2005 | 17:52:27 EST
It's now been 110 days since CBS News President Andrew Heyward promised the report would come "in weeks, not months." Is Walter Staudt, the former commanding officer of George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard unit, indirectly responsible for why we haven't heard anything from the Memogate commission?
That may very well prove to be the case considering that Staudt may have good grounds for a libel suit against CBS for claiming, without even asking him, that he had pressured subordinates to "sugarcoat" the record of Lt. Bush. One thing is almost for sure, if the report is released in a heavily edited form, the odds are pretty high CBS is worried about getting sued. (Hat tip: Sisyphean Musings.)
For more on legal ramifications that may emerge from Memogate, keep an eye on the Scylla & Charybdis blog.
Also, in case you're wondering, when the commission report is finally released, RatherBiased.com will be fact-checking it live throughout the night. If you're interested in contributing your analysis, drop an email to us at the address above. People who include good summaries of their arguments stand a better chance of getting linked.
If you're a TV or radio producer looking for someone to comment on the Memogate commission's findings, call 202-215-9123. You can also reach us on the AIM network at "rbdc media".
January 09, 2005 | 23:54:30 EST
Hosting Matters, the web presence provider of many popular blogs such as Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, Captain's Quarters, and Powerline has been having a bad few weeks. One of the company's critical servers broke down a few days ago taking out many blogger sites. In addition, HM has been the target of several denial of service attacks.
To view the rest of our news items, click here.