Staudt Undermines CBS's Case, CBS "Experts" Say They Are Not --9/20/2004
2. CBS to Concede Obvious? Burkett a Source for Past Bush-Bashing
3. More Integrity at CBS News Than with Swifties and Fox News
4. Comedy Central's Tough Crowd Sees Liberal Bias in CBS Agenda
5. Derogatory Movie, The Reagans, Shut Out at the Emmy Awards
CBS's defense of its forged memos took a blow on Friday when retired Colonel Walter Staudt, the man whom, in CBS's forged documents, Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian complained, in a memo dated 18 months after Staudt had retired, "Staudt is pushing to sugar coat" Bush's performance record, denied to ABC News applying any pressure on Bush's behalf or of having been asked to accept Bush into the Guard. Then on Sunday the Washington Post revealed that two of the "experts" put forward by CBS News to validate the documents didn't consider themselves to be "experts." In between, CBS trotted out a new spin in their defense: It's all the fault of White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett. (ABC mis-identified Walter Staudt on screen as "William.")
By Monday morning, the New York Times and Washington Post reported CBS News would soon concede the memos were forged. (See item #2 below)
On Saturday's Good Morning America, reporter Geoff Morrell relayed how "in an exclusive interview with ABC News, Walter Staudt, the Brigadier General of Bush's National Guard unit, says he did Bush no favors." Staudt rejected the charge made on 60 Minutes by Ben Barnes: "No one called me to encourage me or direct me or suggest that I take George Bush into the Air Guard." (Barnes claimed he had called General James Rose, apparently a superior to Staudt.)
Morrell, however, couldn't resist wrapping up his story with a shot at Bush as he stressed how Staudt's recollections do not shed "any new light on that six-month gap in President Bush's service record after he transferred to the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972."
Morrell's story failed to note how Staudt had also refuted the claim in the forged memo about how he had applied pressure on Bush's behalf. The ABCNews.com posting of the story on Friday, a scoop which was not mentioned on Friday's World News Tonight but which led FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume on Friday night, included this quote from Staudt: "I never pressured anybody about George Bush because I had no reason to."
A Saturday Los Angeles Times story and a Sunday Washington Post article provided a behind-the-scenes look at how the CBS 60 Minutes hit piece on President George W. Bush, which used forged memos to make its case, came together -- starting with someone giving the memos to CBS News producer Mary Mapes on the day after the Republican convention -- and how CBS News failed to comprehend their misdeed even as evidence mounted after the story aired.
Both articles recounted the fresh CBS spin line of blaming White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett because, when shown the memos, at 11am on the day of the 60 Minutes broadcast, he did not label as fakes the memos CBS reporter John Roberts told him were from Jerry Killian's private files.
The Washington Post story further undermined CBS by showing how neither "expert" brought forward by CBS to defend the authenticity of the memos considers himself to be an "expert." CBS, for instance put forward as an "expert" former typewriter repairman Bill Glennon, but he told the Post: "I'm not an expert, and I don't pretend to be."
Now, a transcript of the relevant portion of the September 18 Good Morning America story followed by excerpts from the LA Times and Washington Post articles:
-- Picking the Saturday GMA story after Geoff Morrell related how the Pentagon on Friday released a letter George W. Bush's father sent to his son's training commander in response to a letter the commander had sent to then-Congressman Bush, Morrell asserted: "While the letter suggests the General showed special interest in Bush by writing to his father, neither it nor any of the other newly released records show he received special treatment to get into the Guard or once a member."
Morrell's story paralleled a Friday ABCNews.com posting in which Staudt undermined Dan Rather's claim that the "thrust" of his reporting, that Bush benefitted from preferential treatment to get into the Texas Air National Guard and how, thanks to pressure applied by Staudt, he was allowed to skate when he underperformed, remains accurate.
Sept. 17, 2004 -- The man cited in media reports as having allegedly pressured others in the Texas Air National Guard to help George W. Bush is speaking out, telling ABC News in an exclusive interview that he never sought special treatment for Bush.
Retired Col. Walter Staudt, who was brigadier general of Bush's unit in Texas, interviewed Bush for the Guard position and retired in March 1972. He was mentioned in one of the memos allegedly written by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian as having pressured Killian to assist Bush, though Bush supposedly was not meeting Guard standards.
"I never pressured anybody about George Bush because I had no reason to," Staudt told ABC News in his first interview since the documents were made public.
The memo stated that "Staudt is pushing to sugar coat" a review of Bush's performance.
Staudt said he decided to come forward because he saw erroneous reports on television....
Staudt insisted Bush did not use connections to avoid being sent to Vietnam.
"He didn't use political influence to get into the Air National Guard," Staudt said, adding, "I don't know how they would know that, because I was the one who did it and I was the one who was there and I didn't talk to any of them."
During his time in charge of the unit, Staudt decided whether to accept those who applied for pilot training. He recalled Bush as a standout candidate.
"He was highly qualified," he said. "He passed all the scrutiny and tests he was given."
Staudt said he never tried to influence Killian or other Guardsmen, and added that he never came under any pressure himself to accept Bush. "No one called me about taking George Bush into the Air National Guard," he said. "It was my decision. I swore him in. I never heard anything from anybody."...
He added that Bush more than met the requirements for pilot training. "He presented himself well. I'd say he was in the upper 10 percent or 5 percent or whatever we ever talked to about going to pilot training. We were pretty particular because when he came back [from training], we had to fly with him."...
He added that after retiring he was not involved in Air National Guard affairs. "I didn't check in with anybody -- I had no reason to," he said. "I was busy with my civilian endeavors, and they were busy with their military options. I had no reason to talk to them, and I didn't."...
END of Excerpt
For the ABC posting in full, now moved to the "U.S." section: abcnews.go.com
ABC's posting includes a much-used photo you'll probably recognize of current President Bush and his father standing next to Staudt at some point during Bush's Guard years.
For the September 18 Los Angeles Times story, "In the Rush for a Scoop, CBS Found Trouble Fast: Its report on Bush's Guard service offers a cautionary tale in an age of growing competition," by Josh Getlin, Elizabeth Jensen and Scott Collins, go to: www.latimes.com
....An examination of the process that led to the broadcast, based on interviews with the participants and more than 20 independent analysts, shows that CBS rushed the story onto the air while ignoring the advice of its own outside experts, and used as corroborating witnesses people who had no firsthand knowledge of the documents. As CBS pushed to finish its report, it was Bartlett who contacted the network -- rather than the other way around -- at 5:30 the evening before to ask whether the White House could respond to the widely rumored story....
Later, Bartlett would explain why he did not challenge the documents with a question: "How am I supposed to verify something that came from a dead man in three hours?"...
Howard said he believed some of the outsiders' questions about superscript and proportionate spacing were "kind of silly."...
On Monday, CBS turned to two new analysts to counter the critics. One of them, Richard Katz, said later that he had merely set out to prove the memos had not been created with Microsoft Word or other modern computer programs. He told The Post that he is not a document examiner and that "I have no interest in authenticating the documents." The other analyst, Bill Glennon, said he is an information technology consultant, adding: "I'm not an expert, and I don't pretend to be."
Pierce, the California analyst first consulted by CBS before the broadcast, gave the network a three-paragraph statement calling the memos "strongly similar to corresponding samples," but CBS did not release any corroborating evidence....
It quickly became clear that the people CBS hired to authenticate the documents had -- and claimed -- only limited expertise in the sometimes arcane science of computer typesetting technology and fonts. Such expertise is needed to determine whether the records could have been created in 1972 and 1973. Independent experts contacted by The Post were surprised that CBS hired analysts who were not certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, considered the gold standard in the field.
These software experts say differences in font widths and printing styles make it impossible to replicate the CBS documents using the printing technology available in the early 1970s. By contrast, reasonably competent computer enthusiasts have created nearly exact replicas of the documents in 15 minutes employing default settings for Microsoft Word and the widely used Times New Roman font.
While Glennon continues to insist that the documents could theoretically have been printed on a Vietnam War-era IBM Selectric, no one has been able to demonstrate this . Leading font developers say the technology simply did not exist 30 years ago.
One telltale sign in the CBS documents is the overlapping character combinations, such as "fr" or "fe," said Joseph M. Newcomer, an adjunct professor with Carnegie Mellon University. Blown-up portions of the CBS documents show that the top of the "f" overlaps the beginning of the next letter, a feat that was not possible even on the most sophisticated typewriters available in 1972. Newcomer calls the documents "a modern forgery."
Tests run by Thomas Phinney, fonts program manager for Adobe Systems, show that none of the possible font widths available on any typewriter or any IBM device from 1972 are able to produce an exact replica of the CBS documents. "Can they do something 'similar'? Sure," Phinney said. "Could they produce those exact memos? Impossible."...
END of Excerpt
For the Sunday Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Whose fault is that?
As for Katz and Glennon who do not consider themselves to be "experts," setting up soundbites from them on the Monday, September 13 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather claimed CBS had consulted "handwriting and document analysts and other experts who strongly insist that the documents could have been created in the '70s."
For a full rundown of that CBS Evening News story with Rather's lame "could have" defense, see the September 14 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
For the September 16 CyberAlert item recounting the claims in the CBS statement released on September 15 in PDF format: www.mediaresearch.org
For the supporting statement from Katz, just made up of his CBS Evening News soundbites from September 13: www.cbsnews.com
For the comment from Glennon, again just lifted from the soundbite aired last Monday night: www.cbsnews.com
CBS to finally concede the obvious? And if Bill Burkett was their source, CBS and the other networks have relied before upon the vociferous Bush-hater. In Monday's New York Times, Jim Rutenberg reported that CBS officials, "who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents' origins."
Rutenberg zeroed in on Burkett as a key player in the hoax, revealing: "Mr. Rather interviewed Mr. Burkett on camera this weekend, and several people close to the reporting process said his answers to Mr. Rather's questions led officials to conclude that their initial confidence that the memos had come from Mr. Killian's own files was not warranted. These people indicated that Mr. Burkett had previously led the producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, to have the utmost confidence in the material."
For Rutenberg's story, "CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say," go to: www.nytimes.com
If Burkett is tied in to the forged memos, it wouldn't be the first time a media outlet has treated him as a reliable source without bothering to alerts viewers to his personal political agenda and grievances.
The Monday, February 16 CyberAlert recounted how on Thursday February 12 and Friday, February 13, network stories and interview segments continued to feature book author James Moore and former Texas National Guard Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett, without bothering to note how Moore's book has a definite anti-Bush agenda on the Iraq war, how a Friday Boston Globe story undermined Burkett's claim that he witnessed efforts to "cleanse" Bush's National Guard records and how Burkett is a member of a left-wing group, Veterans for Peace, and last year wrote a disgruntled screed blaming George W. Bush for his health problems.
As reported in the February 13 CyberAlert, CBS's John Roberts devoted nearly an entire story on Thursday night to how "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.'" Roberts failed to note that the author is a left-wing Bush-basher whose book sets out to prove the illegitimacy of the Bush presidency and Iraq war.
Burkett also appeared Thursday night on MSNBC's Hardball and together with Moore on CNN's Paula Zhan Now.
For more about the CBS story and Moore's agenda: www.mediaresearch.org
The Moore/Burkett duo were also showcased Friday morning on CNN's American Morning, where they were interviewed by Bill Hemmer, and Friday night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. In addition, stories on CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today featured Burkett's allegation.
In none of these venues was Burkett's political agenda recounted and only NBC's Today, only after giving a full airing to Burkett's claim, noted how the Boston Globe found a witness who contradicts him. "Doubts raised on Bush accuser: Key witness disputes charge by Guard retiree that files were purged," read the Friday morning Boston Globe headline over a story which did not attract network interest. An excerpt from the February 13 article by Michael Rezendes:
For at least six years, a retired Texas National Guard officer has maintained that President Bush's record as a member of the Guard was purged of potentially embarrassing material at the behest of high-ranking Bush aides laying the groundwork for Bush's 2000 run for the presidency.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett, who has been pressing his charges in the national news media this week, says he even heard one high-ranking officer issue a 1997 order to sanitize the Bush file, and later saw another officer poring over the records and discovered that some had been discarded.
But a key witness to some of the events described by Burkett has told the Globe that the central elements of his story are false.
George O. Conn, a former chief warrant officer with the Guard and a friend of Burkett's, is the person whom Burkett says led him to the room where the Bush records were being vetted. But Conn says he never saw anyone combing through the Bush file or discarding records.
"I have no recall of that," Conn said. "I have no recall of that whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada."
Conn's recollection also undercuts another of Burkett's central allegations: that he overheard Bush's onetime chief of staff, Joe M. Allbaugh, telling a Texas Guard general to make sure there were no embarrassments in the Bush record.
Burkett says he told Conn, over dinner that same night, what he had overheard. But Conn says that, although Burkett told him he worried that the Bush record would be sanitized, he never mentioned overhearing the conversation between Allbaugh and General Daniel James III.
Burkett's allegations about the Bush records come as the White House is attempting to answer mounting questions about whether Bush fulfilled his obligations as a member of the Texas Air Guard during the early 1970s. Burkett's allegations also will be a major focus of a book on Bush to be published next month.
But the book's author, James Moore, a former Houston TV news correspondent, concedes he never interviewed some of the key players who could have verified Burkett's charges, including Conn and retired National Guard Colonel John Scribner -- the officer Burkett says he saw removing items from the Bush file....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: www.boston.com
Indeed, in a letter posted by Veteran for Peace, Burkett ranted (an excerpt):
....In January of 1998 and what seems like a full lifetime ago, I was stricken by a deadly case of meningoencephalitis. I was returning from a short duty trip to Panama as a team chief to inspect the hand over of Ft. Clayton to the Panamanians. I had been 'loaned' from the senior staff and state planning officer of the Texas National Guard to the Department of the Army for a series of these special projects after angering George W. Bush by refusing to falsify readiness information and reports; confronting a fraudulent funding scheme which kept 'ghost' soldiers on the books for additional funding, and refusing to alter official personnel records [of George W. Bush].
George W. Bush and his lieutenants were mad. They ordered that I not be accessed to emergency medical care services, healthcare benefits I earned by my official duty; and I was withheld from medical care for 154 days before I was withdrawn from Texas responsibility by the Department of the Army, by order of the White House....
I know GW Bush and his inner circle very well. As I said, a UN vote would not stop GW Bush from attacking Iraq. Nor will anything else. And weapons of mass destruction will be discovered in great quantities; but the entire affair will stink to high heavens because it will be as staged as the White House press conference you just viewed. The human death toll will publicly not be mentioned, yet in truth, it will far exceed 120,000....
Now I feel sickness that today another massive group of people, held worthless by this anointed king, will be trampled upon like grapes. But their blood will not be rendered into wine. It will be spilled into the sands of this desert or another, or on the streets of Washington, or in the halls of the US Congress, or in the courts....
We must now revert to the history of Europe to discern what to do. We must study the nemesis of France and how Napoleon was felled before understanding the damage a tyrant does to a nation and society. We must examine the ruthless and dictatorial rise of yet another of the three small men -- one whose name is not spoken out of fear of reprisal, but his name was Adolf.
END of Excerpt
The author identification at the end of the piece made clear how Burkett holds a grudge:
That's all online at: www.veteransforpeace.org
Nonetheless, the February 12 USA Today featured a story based on Burkett's claims, "Ex-officer: Bush file's details caused concern." See: www.usatoday.com
Norah O'Donnell proclaimed on NBC's Today: "As the White House has yet to release the President's complete military record, there are new questions about whether or not officials close to Mr. Bush tried to remove files that could embarrass him. The allegation is that when Mr. Bush was governor, preparing for a run for President, his advisors tried to scrub clean Mr. Bush's military files."
Then why give such air time to his charges?
Over on Friday's (February 13) Early Show on CBS, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, Julie Chen touted how "there are new questions about the President's time in the National Guard, including allegations that someone tried to doctor the books."
After noting the White House's release the day before of dental records to show Bush was in Alabama, Bill Plante gave air time to Burkett: "In another development, a former officer in the Texas Air National Guard claims that in 1997 he overheard a request to the Guard from Governor Bush's staff to review Mr. Bush's service file to quote 'make sure nothing will embarrass the governor.'"
CBS News not as awful as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Declaring that "we all know that George Bush got into the Guard because he was a son of privilege, that he stayed in despite breaking the rules because he was privileged," on Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN, Time's Margaret Carlson predicted that while CBS News would end up apologizing for its mis-reporting, "we will wait a long time before various cable channels and Fox apologizes for the swift boat ads and the commentary on their channels, which turned out not to be true. Almost -- I think every aspect of what they said has been disproved by Navy records."
That's preposterous since much of what they have charged has been proven, at the very least, more accurate than Kerry's claims.
A bit later, Bob Novak corrected her: "Let me respond to something that Margaret said, all this stuff about the Swift Boat for Truth ads have been proved wrong. I don't think that's true at all. I've talked to several of the -- of the -- of the Naval commanders who tell stories about the, that the claims of Senator Kerry as a lieutenant were -- were not justified. The Naval IG said you cannot go back to these and re-investigate these awards of medals 30 years ago. That's all he said. He didn't say that he had investigated them and they're all valid. He said that it's, in his opinion, the Navy IG couldn't do it."
Liberal bias recognized on Comedy Central. Reacting to Dan Rather's use of Marian Carr Knox to contend the memos were fake but accurate, on the Tough Crowd show hosted by Colin Quinn, in which comedians discuss the issues of the day, Quin pleaded: "I just wish people would just admit the media is liberally biased except for like Fox News....But the fact is CBS would not have done this to John Kerry. They did it to Bush, I'm not saying he deserved it or not, but admit you're liberally biased, media. I'm in the media for 20 years. We all know it's 99.9 percent liberal."
Comedian Jim Norton added: "Andy Rooney one time was talking about the media being liberal and he said that Dan was 'transparently liberal,' meaning Rather. And he wasn't trashing him, he was just saying that he is a transparently liberal guy and everybody freaked out."
Indeed, back on the June 5, 2002 Larry King Live on CNN, asked to comment on Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, Rooney replied: "I thought he made some very good points. There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I'm consistently liberal in my opinions. And I think some of the, I think Dan is transparently liberal. Now, he may not like to hear me say that. I always agree with him, too. But I think he should be more careful."
For a little more from that CNN appearance, see the June 7, 2002 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Quinn: "They're saying they're (expletive) forgeries but they're based on real stories."
Jim Norton: "Andy Rooney one time was talking about the media being liberal and he said that Dan was transparently liberal, meaning Rather. And he wasn't trashing him, he was just saying that he is a transparently liberal guy and everybody freaked out. They were saying like that was a real breach and he shouldn't have said it. Liberals hate being called liberals. I don't know why. They just hate it."
Comedy Central's home page for Tough Crowd: www.comedycentral.com
The CBS mini-series The Reagans, which ended up running on Showtime after a quite a bit of controversy over its derogatory portrayal of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, lost in all four major categories in which is was nominated for Emmy Award. The winners were announced Sunday night on ABC.
The Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, went to Meryl Streep in HBO's Angels in America, another anti-Reagan screed, not to Judy Davis for her portrayal of Nancy Reagan.
The Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, was awarded to Al Pacino for Angels in America, instead of James Brolin for his portrayal of Ronald Reagan.
The Reagans was also nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, but that too went to Angels in America.
And in the overall category of Outstanding Made for Television Movie, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded HBO's Something the Lord Made.
-- Brent Baker