Accuracy in Media

By its own admission, in an interview airing on the CBS Evening News on Monday night, CBS News pressured an anti-Bush partisan activist and Kerry supporter, Texas Democrat Bill Burkett, to produce the source of the fake documents used against Bush. Burkett has been hospitalized for mental problems. This was the “unimpeachable source” cited by CBS. And he continues to deny that he was the ultimate source of the documents!

The latest revelation is that, as part of a deal with Burkett, just days before the CBS story aired, CBS producer Mary Mapes arranged for him to talk to Joe Lockhart, a senior adviser to John Kerry. Burkett also contacted Kerry adviser Max Cleland with his “information.”

The circumstances and timing surrounding the airing of the 60 Minutes II show are certainly curious. On September 7, one day before the CBS story aired, Texans for Truth, a so-called 527 group funded by billionaire leftist George Soros through,  released a TV ad accusing Bush of evading his National Guard service. One day later, on September 8, Rather and CBS’s 60 Minutes did their program based on the bogus National Guard documents. That’s also when Rather interviewed Kerry fundraiser and Texas Democrat Ben Barnes about his alleged knowledge of Bush getting into the National Guard. Newsweek reported that Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill called Barnes to congratulate him on his CBS News appearance. Just six days later, on September 14, the Democratic National Committee announced “Operation Fortunate Son,” including a new video hitting Bush on the National Guard issue, using excerpts from the CBS interview with Barnes.

This sequence of events has all the earmarks of a coordinated Kerry campaign/CBS News effort to sabotage Bush’s reelection.

It is important to remember that Senator Patrick Leahy requested an FBI investigation of the forgeries that surfaced on Iraq and uranium, saying they “may be part of a larger deception campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion and foreign policy regarding Iraq.” His pressure forced the FBI to announce an inquiry into the origin and distribution of the forged Iraq documents. The media, including CBS News, insisted that the forgeries had somehow played a role in the U.S. decision to go to war. This claim was false, but the appearance of the forgeries was a deadly serious matter and an indication that forces behind the scenes were trying to manipulate public opinion. 

The forged documents used by CBS News also seem to be part of a larger deception campaign?to defeat President Bush for re-election and affect the outcome of the global war on fanatical Islam, including the war in Iraq. 

With CBS News having taken the curious position that the White House should have exposed the documents as forgeries before CBS News went on the air with them, it is imperative that the FBI or some appropriate law enforcement agency get to the bottom of this scandal. If the expectation of CBS News was that the White House should have exposed the documents as forgeries, then CBS News should have no objection to a federal probe into where the documents came from and how they came into the possession of CBS News. Indeed, if CBS News has nothing to hide in this scandal, it should waive any First Amendment protections and welcome such an inquiry.

An investigation should also examine Dan Rather’s personal ties to the Texas Democrats. Rather himself raised money in 2001 for the Travis County, Texas, Democratic Party, at the request of his daughter, Robin, a Democratic Party activist and contributor. She lives in Texas and has contributed to Kerry for president, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

But the connections to John Kerry and the Democrats get even more interesting. Robin Rather, a professional environmentalist, sits on the advisory council in Texas of a group known as Environmental Defense (ED). As Ron Arnold documents for the Capital Research Center, ED received Heinz Foundation grants of $601,000 in 2001-2003. Heinz  grants to ED totaled $2,846,819 between 1992-2000. That name “Heinz” is that of Teresa Heinz Kerry, who sits on the national board of ED.

In conduct some have compared to the Watergate cover-up, CBS News initially stonewalled the charges of forgery. Perhaps Rather thought he could get away with it. After all, Sumner Redstone, chairman and CEO of CBS parent company Viacom, is a major Democratic Party contributor. Redstone contributed to John Kerry for president. He has also contributed to Senators Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle, and Patrick Leahy, and Al Gore for president in 2000.

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