Late last night Mayflower Hill reported an e-mail from a former CBS staffer that indicated that Dan Rather was going to be forced to “fall on his sword”. This morning Jim Ruttenberg of The New York Times reports that CBS will admit they were misled.
[O]fficials decided yesterday that they would most likely have to declare that they had been 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 had come 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 if Mr. Burkett had told Mr. Rather that he had been misled about the documents’ provenance or that he had been the one who did the misleading.The issue that is not addressed is how much of their story they’ll stick to. Remember there were three major charges, which Rather has steadfastly maintained no one has challenged:
Ben Barnes pulled strings to get George Bush into the Texas Air National Guard.
Bush was ordered in writing by Killian to take his physical.
Bill Burkett witnessed Bush’s service records being “cleansed” in 1998.
Every single one of these stories has been debunked by credible sources. We challenge, we challenge!!!
More than likely, any CBS “apology” is going to be very tempered and likely reiterate previous network statements that “no one has challenged the content of our report.” This is flatly false. A number of people have criticized CBS’s reporting including the White House, President Bush’s father, the Killian family, Ben Barnes’s daughter Amy Barnes Stites, as well as several of Bush’s former associates including Col. Walter Staudt, Col. Bobby Hodges, as well as Bush’s roommate Dean Roome. These people were deliberately ignored (Killians, Staudt, Roome, Stites, Bush) or lied to (Hodges).
They proceed to list 20 items that CBS should apologize for.
Update: Sean Hackbarth wonders if Mapes is being setup to be the scapegoat.