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September 21, 2004
CBS News Producer Contacted Kerry Aide Lockhart Before Show Aired
I've already noted that CBS News seems poised to throw producer Mary Mapes to the wolves (The Fingerpointing Has Begun at CBS). Well, it would seem the Kerry Campaign is giving her a helpful push too, in order to distance themselves from the ongoing scandal, according to an AP report (Kerry Aide Talked to Retired Guard Officer:
Lockhart said Mapes asked him the weekend before the story broke to call Burkett. "She basically said there's a guy who is being helpful on the story who wants to talk to you," Lockhart said, adding that it was common knowledge that CBS was working on a story raising questions about Bush's Guard service. Mapes told him there were some records "that might move the story forward. She didn't tell me what they said."
All too often I think the charges of media bias are overblown or don't take into account various institutional issues, etc., etc. Sometimes, however, the media just hands their critics something to tear at.
Non-registration link for story (Kerry Adviser Talked to Burkett).
UPDATE 1855 PT
USA Today has much more (and don't they have their own tale to tell?) (CBS arranged for meeting with Lockhart):
Burkett told USA TODAY that he had agreed to turn over the documents to CBS if the network would help arrange a conversation with the Kerry campaign.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE 2345 PT
USA Today does indeed have a story to tell, an extraordinarily bizarre one (CBS backs off Guard story):
After he received the documents in Houston, Burkett said, he drove home, stopping on the way at a Kinko's shop in Waco to copy the six memos. In the parking lot outside, he said, he burned the ones he had been given and the envelope they were in. Ramirez was worried about leaving forensic evidence on them that might lead back to her, Burkett said, acknowledging that the story sounded fantastic. "This is going to sound like some damn sci-fi movie," he said.
After keeping the copies for a couple of days, he said he drove to a location he would not specify, about 100 miles from his ranch, to put them "in cold storage." Burkett said he took the action because he believed the papers were politically explosive and made him nervous. "I treated them like absolute TNT," he said. "They looked to me like they were devastating."
Burkett was the source of the memos for USA Today, but his story certainly raises many more questions. For example, there is the possibility that CBS News producer Mapes had two of the documents weeks before getting copies of all six:
Ultimately, Burkett decided to turn over the documents to one of the most persistent journalists, CBS producer Mary Mapes, sometime in August. He and his wife met Mapes and CBS reporter Mike Smith at a pizza restaurant a few miles from their ranch. At first he gave them only two of the six documents, which Mapes said she planned to have analyzed for authenticity, according to Burkett.
Burkett said he passed the rest of the documents to Smith around Sept. 5, at a drive-in restaurant near Baird.
Read the whole, sorry thing.
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