Accuracy in Media

One night after Dan Rather himself, on 60 Minutes on September 15, featured testimony that his own controversial Bush National Guard documents were fakes, Chris Matthews was on the air on MSNBC trying to pump new life into the discredited story.  Matthews went back in time, to February, when he had Bill Burkett on the Hardball show.  Matthews on September 16 re-aired the interview with Burkett knowing by this time that he was a questionable source and may have played a role in producing or distributing the forged documents.  By resurrecting Burkett, Matthews was competing with Rather for the dubious distinction of going to any length to smear the President of the United States.

Not only that, but Matthews followed the Burkett interview with an interview of James Moore, who quoted Burkett at length in his book, “Bush’s War for Reelection.”  Ironically, Burkett complains that he was punished for “refusing to alter official personnel records” of George W. Bush.  Burkett was quickly identified as someone possibly involved in the production or distribution of the altered or forged Bush documents used by 60 Minutes.

Matthews depicted Burkett as a Democrat, a conservative Democrat, but that hardly squares with an article by him that was posted on a website of a far-left group called “Veterans for Peace,” which had embraced him.  A January letter posted on their website describes how they tried to get Burkett on ABC News to talk about Bush and the National Guard.

The objectives of Veterans for Peace include “to abolish war as an instrument of national policy.”  At the group’s 2004 convention, it passed resolutions opposing an amendment to protect the American flag from desecration, supporting normalization of relations with Communist Cuba, opposing the Iraq war, and supporting ratification of the International Criminal Court treaty.

This far-left organization has several projects designed to help countries or regimes that have waged war against the United States.  Its “Korean Peace Campaign” accuses the U.S. of a “hard-line” policy toward North Korea and claims the U.S. has a “heavy responsibility” for the Korean War, when in fact North Korea invaded the south.  A Vietnam project tries to rebuild communist Vietnam, and another seeks to send an ambulance to the Palestinians waging war on Israel.

Marc Morano of reported that Burkett claims to have “reassembled” Bush’s National Guard files and to have been “one of the sources for information” in the flawed Michael Moore film “Fahrenheit 911.”   Morano further reported that “Burkett, who resides in Baird, Texas, did not return a phone call from seeking comment.  He has not returned any news inquiries since the CBS News report featuring the controversial documents aired last week.”  The New York Times said that Burkett “declined to return telephone calls” and that his lawyer, David Van Os, “repeatedly refused to say in a telephone interview whether the officer had played a part in supplying the disputed documents to CBS.”  Eventually, however, Rather scheduled his own interview of Burkett.  By then, it was too late.

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