'The Scandal Hasn't Hit Bottom by a Long Shot'

J$P Instant Transcript! Scott Johnson of Powerline and Juan Williams of NPR discussing you-know-what.

From Fox News Live, September 21 2004:

JON SCOTT [FOX NEWS]: What does all of this mean for CBS and for the election? We’re asking Scott Johnson, an attorney and sponsor for the Powerline blog, and also Juan Williams, senior correpondent for NPR and a Fox News contributor. Welcome to both of you. Juan, the CBS/Dan Rather apology, is it enough?

JUAN WILLIAMS [NPR]: Well no it’s not, Jon. I think what you have to do now is understand exactly where these documents came from. I mean, CBS’s failure by their own admission that they didn’t exactly find out where these documents came from. They say that all they knew was that Bill Burkett had provided them; but Burkett says that in fact he was a conduit, is the way he puts it, for these documents from either another Guardsman somewhere overseas--it’s kind of shady, and that’s why it’s just a surprise to me as a journalist, to you Jon as a journalist, that CBS would not have had a higher standard for exactly checking out these documents. What was the source of the documents? That seems like a basic journalistic tenet.

SCOTT: Scott Johnson, as of last week in Dan Rather’s words, these documents came from an “unimpeachable source”. Now all of a sudden we’re finding that it’s Bill Burkett, a guy who’s long had an axe to grind against George W Bush and the Bush administration, and in fact is, according to some descriptions in the media, is a little bit of a nut case.

SCOTT JOHNSON [POWERLINE]: Well, you took the words right out of my mouth. Until yesterday CBS described its source for these documents many times over as “unimpeachable”. Yesterday they identified the source as Bill Burkett, and Burkett is not only a nut job, a Bush hater, a fierce Democratic partisan, he’s been in contact with at least two operatives of the Kerry campaign that we know about. And Jon, the scandal hasn’t touched bottom by a long shot. But what’s really notable this morning is the complete lack of forthrightness in that CBS statement yesterday? What did Burkett tell CBS about where he got these documents? What did they do after he told them that, to verify that that’s in fact where he got them? How could they, with whatever information they say they got from Burkett, vouch for the documents as coming from an unimpeachable source under those circumstances, where the documents are described as coming from the personal file of a gentleman who’s 20 years deceased and whose family told CBS they didn’t come from?

SCOTT: Now Scott, the Kerry campaign denies that it had anything to do with the origination of these documents or Bill Burkett. Do you accept that?

JOHNSON: Well they’ve admitted that they spoke with Burkett, both Joe Lockhart and Max Cleland both spoke with Burkett before this story aired. The week that CBS 60 Minutes aired this piece is the week that the Kerry campaign rolled out its Operation Fortunate Son theme, attacking President Bush’s Air National Guard service. I think that’s one of the highly suspect circumstantial pieces of evidence that indicates, have all the earmarks of a fraud besides the obvious forgeries that these documents are.

SCOTT: What does this do to the campaign, Juan Williams?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think it doesn’t do much to the campaign. It helps the Bush campaign because the Bush campaign was under attack in terms of President Bush’s National Guard service. There are legitimate questions there; as you know, there are documents still coming out of the Pentagon. A federal judge in the New York has ordered the Pentagon finally get all the documents related to the President’s service out on the table. So the Bush campaign was getting some of the backlash from what had happened with swift boat veterans. Now the whole story is CBS. Nobody’s paying attention to the questions about the President’s record. I think it’s been manna from heaven for the Bush campaign.

SCOTT: All right. Well we're going to be talking with Joe Lockhart...

posted: Tue - September 21, 2004 at 10:31 AM       j$p  send