DATE: 9/15/2004 09:02:00 AM
Game Over - ABC News has interviewed two document experts who warned CBS that the memos seemed suspicious. CBS ignored their concerns and ran with the story.
Two of the document experts hired by CBS News now say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast of 60 Minutes II about the disputed National Guard records attributed to Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.
Emily Will, a veteran document examiner from North Carolina, told ABC News she saw problems right away with the one document CBS hired her to check the weekend before the broadcast.
"I found five significant differences in the questioned handwriting, and I found problems with the printing itself as to whether it could have been produced by a typewriter," she said.
Will says she sent the CBS producer an e-mail message about her concerns and strongly urged the network the night before the broadcast not to use the documents.
"I told them that all the questions I was asking them on Tuesday night, they were going to be asked by hundreds of other document examiners on Thursday if they ran that story," Will said.
But the documents became a key part of the 60 Minutes II broadcast questioning President Bush's National Guard service in 1972. CBS made no mention that any expert disputed the authenticity.
"I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply," Will told ABC News.Captain's Quarters wonders whether this rises to the level of libel. CBS ran with a story they knew would be damaging to the president, ignoring warnings from experts that their key evidence might be phony. If it's not libel, it's certainly journalistic malpractice and an attempt by Dan Rather and CBS News to influence an election using fraudlent means.
Each of these people should go on-camera, renounce the story and apologize to the president. Then they should resign or be fired. I'm not much on boycotts, but I'm willing to do without products from these companies if it means purging journalism of these vicious partisans. This is but the first step the network should take to rebuild trust.
After firing Rather, Mapes and Hayward, CBS should disclose its sources and investigate where the memos originated, then let events take their course. Given Terry MacAuliffe's total trust in the memos, I think the DNC has to be looked at seriously. They have the most to gain from smearing the president's National Guard service, and if they had anything to do with this forgery, the public deserves to know that.
ABC News should be applauded for its aggressive reporting on this story. Sure, they're doing it to hurt a competitor, but that doesn't change the fact that their reporters have done some excellent work. Since last Friday, Dan Rather has been trying to shift the burden of proof from his network to those who criticize him. ABC's report tonight will make it harder for that tactic to be successful.