Tuesday, September 21, 2004

USA Today--Unimpeachable!

USA Today has done what CBS should do--detail exactly how they got the fake documents. It's an admirable piece of work on the part of the USA Today editors. Good for them.

What USA Today does is: (1) Tell us everything about how they got the documents from Burkett; (2) Tell us about every other time in the past when they've used Burkett as a source; and (3) Tell us everything they know about where the story stands now.

Along the way, they manage to further damn CBS. Remember that CBS called Burkett an "unimpeachable" source. We now know:

*Burkett does not appear stable: "Burkett's emotions varied widely in the interviews. One session ended when Burkett suffered a violent seizure and collapsed in his chair."

*Burkett's account of how he received the documents does not appear solid: "Burkett said he arranged to get the documents during a trip to Houston for a livestock show in March. But instead of being met at the show by [Lucy] Ramirez, he was approached by a man who asked for Burkett, handed him an envelope and quickly left, Burkett recounted. . . . 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."

So even if CBS was acting in good faith when they were taken in by Burkett, it's clear that they were consciously misrepresenting Burkett when they defended their story by describing him as "unimpeachable."

Oh, and don't forget that the biggest scandal in all of this isn't even the fake documents--it's Mary Mapes passing oppo research to the Kerry campaign.

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