18. September 2004 · Comments Off on Connections Between Burkett, CBS News Fleshed Out · Categories: Media Matters Not

This from Ratherbiased.com:

CBS Relied On Dems for Documents

Burkett, Moore Both Tied to Memogate Story

September 18, 2004 01:06:47 EDT

Memogate is the story that just keeps giving. The Washington Post and The New York Times both have huge stories in today’s editions on the connections between Bill Burkett, CBS News, and the Democratic Party.

First from the Post‘s:

The former Texas National Guard officer suspected of providing CBS News with possibly forged records on President Bush’s military service called on Democratic activists to wage “war” against Republican “dirty tricks” in a series of Internet postings in which he also used phrases similar to several employed in the disputed documents. […]

In e-mail messages to a Yahoo discussion group for Texas Democrats over the past few months, Burkett laid out a rationale for using what he termed “down and dirty” tactics against Bush. He said he had passed his ideas to the Democratic National Committee but that the DNC seemed “afraid to do what I suggest.”

In another message, dated Sept. 4, Burkett hinted he might have had advance knowledge of some details in an explosive segment that aired Sept. 8 on the CBS News program “60 Minutes.” […]

“I believe that Bush knows that there is more coming out than Ben Barnes,” Burkett wrote. “No proof, just gut instinct.”

In an Aug. 13 essay for a liberal webzine called OnlineJournal.com, Burkett hinted again that President Bush was going to be attacked. This time he was more specific:

Americans will get through the gotchas of the preemptive strike from the Republican swift boat crews who want to elevate obviously flimsy charges in order to immunize Americans from more Bush assaults. The Bush assaults are rumored to finally close the issue of Bush’s disappearance from his Air National Guard duty in Alabama; efforts and methods to falsify and cover up Bush problems in his files; and the obvious disciplinary actions that led to his grounding from flying. Both sides will count on the electorate to sicken of this style and leave the real meat on the table untouched.

As documented in most recent polls, the real issues of Iraq have already required enough Maalox for most Americans. Most Americans don’t like war. They are rapidly moving their focus to their domestic issues of jobs, healthcare and education.

his thoughts in an Aug. 31 posting not printed in the Post:

While some of us pine for the return of Bill CLinton, that’s not the real answer. Many of us have risked everything on this election. And the disappointment is deep and difficult to manage.

But we fight on, inspite of incompetance at the top.

The truth probably is that many of the insiders simply didn’t think to chekc someone out in Texas. Does that mean they won’t check out those that submit themselves for key positions, as well. That’s what we all think.

ined its controversial documents within the last few weeks. It may have received them from Burkett following the latter’s unsuccessful attempts to pass them on to former Democratic senator Max Cleland who has traveled to Texas in mid-May and late August.

Before Cleland’s August trip, Burkett telephoned the ex-senator saying that he had damaging information about Bush. He was told to pass this information along to the Democratic National Committe but, according to the Post, national hq was less than enthusiastic.

In an Aug. 21 posting, Burkett referred to a conversation with former senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.) about the need to counteract Republican tactics: “I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to ground and outlast it, not spending any money. He said counterattack. So I gave them the information to do it with. But none of them have called me back.”

Cleland confirmed that he had a two- or three-minute conversation by cell phone with a Texan named Burkett in mid-August while he was on a car ride. He remembers Burkett saying that he had “valuable” information about Bush, and asking what he should with it. “I told him to contact the [Kerry] campaign,” Cleland said. “You get this information tens of times a day, and you don’t know if it is legit or not.”

Contacted by the New York Times, Cleland confirmed contact with Burkett, acknowledging that the disgruntled former guardsman had offered him information relating to Bush’s guard service.

“I couldn’t swear to it whether he used the term documents or information,” Cleland told the paper. “It was some kind of stuff, some kind of information he wanted to get to the campaign, or something, regarding Bush’s National Guard service. I referred him up to somebody in the campaign.”

CBS has publicly denied Burkett was its source although a source within the network told Times reporter Jim Rutenberg that Burkett had “helped with the reports” but did not elaborate on exactly how.

Burkett’s lawyer, a prominent Democratic activist named David Van Os who is the party’s candidate for the Texas Supreme Court denied that his client had forged the Memogate documents.

“From my knowledge of Bill’s character, I am 100 percent positively, unequivocally certain that Bill Burkett has not created or falsified any documents,” Van Os told the Times.

Stan Merriman, co-founder of a group seeking to make the Texas Democratic party more liberal, echoed Van Os’s sentiments in a Sept. 17 posting to the Yahoo Texas Democrats mailing list.

“Our brother, Bill Burkett is under siege by the Carl Rove [sic] smear machine,” Merriman wrote.

“David Van Os assures me that as Bill’s legal Counsel on a longstanding basis, any assertions that Bill has engaged in ‘forgery’ vis a vis the now infamous documentation of the Bush desertion of duty as a Texas National Guardsman is total smear with the footprints of the Karl Rove modus operandi all over it.”

“I stand with both our brothers Burkett and Van Os and applaud their guts to stand up to the right wing slander machine; President Kerry and many of our DNC brethren can take a lesson from our two populist fellow-Texans who have the cajones to look contemptuously in the eye these ruthless cowards bringing down our formerly proud democracy and tell them to go to h*ll.”

of Burkett’s is James Moore, a former reporter for CBS’s Houston affiliate, KHOU. Since 1994, Moore has been hounding Bush over his National Guard service. Eventually, he left “objective” journalism and has since become a part of the anti-Bush cottage industry that has sprung up following Bush’s emergence as a national figure. He is the author of two books on the president, Bush’s Brain and Bush’s War for Reelection.

While researching his second book, Moore received assistance from Burkett who provided him with a number of documents which Moore used to make the case that Bush had acted dishonorably during Vietnam. Some of these documents were given to CBS News which used at least one of them in a Feb. 12 Evening News report which relayed Burkett’s charges that Bush had instructed staff members to destroy documents which cast doubt on his Guard service.

Mary Mapes, the producer of CBS’s Sept. 8 report which relied on the controversial Memogate documents likely was the recipient of these papers since, according to the network, she has been working on the Bush Guard story for the past five years and is based in Dallas. CBS officials have confirmed that Mapes interviewed Burkett.

Than there’s this:

Exclusive: CBS Used Burkett as Document Source Last February

September 17, 2004, 21:15:09 EDT

Bill Burkett, the disgruntled former National Guardsman widely believed to be the source of the disputed documents shown last week on ’60 Minutes,’ has been colluding with CBS News for quite some time. RatherBiased.com can report that Burkett has been giving documents to Dan Rather and his colleagues. These documents have been used in CBS’s reporting.

On February 12, 2004, Dan Rather reported that there was “more election-year squabbling today over President Bush’s National Guard service record during the Vietnam War.”

Correspondent John Roberts reported CBS had obtained a document along with the writer of an anti-Bush book.

“In a six-year-old letter to Texas lawmakers, obtained by CBS News and in the new book Bush’s War for Reelection, former Guard Officer Bill Burkett claims that in 1997, Guard commanders purged Mr. Bush’s records to ‘make sure nothing will embarrass the governor during his re-election campaign or if he runs for president.'”

The letter was given to CBS and author Jim Moore, who also wrote Bush’s Brain.

Burkett, who lives in central Texas near Abilene, believes that Bush is personally responsible for denying him National Guard medical benefits, has been making a number of charges against Bush beginning during his time as governor of Texas. The former guardsman has been trying to get news organizations to report on his complaints but most have been loathe to relay his charges because they are denied by a number of people, including his friends.

Most likely, Burkett’s liaison at the network was Dallas-based CBS producer Mary Mapes who has been pursuing allegations that President Bush evaded his military obligations for five years according to network officials. Earlier this year, CBS had dispatched Mapes to interview Burkett.

During the course of the Memogate scandal, CBS has steadfastly refused to name the individual(s) who provided it with documents the network says were written by Bush’s former military commander, insisting only that the alleged memos came from an “unimpeachable source.”

If, indeed, they put their unqualified faith in so shaky a source as Burkett, ignoring sources to the contrary, this episode will reduce CBS News to little more than a laughing-stock.

Comments closed.