Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media (AIM) today said that John Roberts, the CBS News Chief White House Correspondent who is said to be in the running for Dan Rather’s job, should follow Rather’s example and retire or resign.  AIM said that Roberts is deeply implicated in the “Rathergate” scandal that has been examined by the two-person “independent panel” appointed by CBS.

“Rather than being just a news-reader,” said Cliff Kincaid, editor at AIM, “John Roberts was instrumental in making sure that the smear of President Bush using the fake documents went forward.” Kincaid said that Roberts “should return to Canada, his native land, and submit an application to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where the liberal anti-Bush bias is even more blatant than at CBS.”

Roberts, who was born in Toronto and attended the University of Toronto, was dubbed the “Canadian pretty boy” by his critics and was said to be Rather’s replacement in waiting.

But Kincaid noted that Roberts was the personal representative of CBS News in a meeting with White House communications director Dan Bartlett, at a critical time when CBS News was developing its fake “story.” In the meeting with Roberts, Bartlett was told that he was supposed to confirm or deny authenticity of the National Guard documents that turned out to be bogus. When Bartlett did not immediately denounce them as forgeries, Roberts provided that information to “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes, as if Bartlett had verified the documents as authentic. This was seen as the critical green light for Mapes (and Dan Rather) to go ahead with the bogus story.

Bartlett later explained that CBS News provided documents that CBS News had said had “come from the personal file of a former commander” in the National Guard and that Roberts expected Bartlett “to authenticate them.” The White House received the documents only three and one-half hours before Bartlett was interviewed by Roberts about them. Bartlett commented that, “CBS had the obligation to authenticate them before they were used. They could have also given them to the White House much earlier so we had more time to verify them as well.”

Kincaid commented, “John Roberts was in a position to stop this fraudulent story before it aired. He should have immediately recognized the unfair nature of the program and put a stop to it. But the available evidence suggests that he wanted to be part of the CBS story, coordinated with the Kerry campaign, in order to politically damage President Bush and prevent his re-election.” Kincaid added, “Roberts will not be able to get out of this by claiming he was just a gopher for Dan Rather and Mary Mapes. If he was just a gopher, then he had ceased being a journalist. Either way, his career in journalism is finished. He must go to Canada.”

Contact: Sherrie Gosett  202-364-4401, ext. 106

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