Bush papers were faked, admits CBS

Rupert Cornwell
Tuesday 21 September 2004 00:00
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CBS News admitted yesterday that it had been duped into using faked documents in its report this month suggesting that President George Bush had shirked his duties during his Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard.

CBS News admitted yesterday that it had been duped into using faked documents in its report this month suggesting that President George Bush had shirked his duties during his Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard.

The announcement itself was widely expected, after experts had pointed out a host of discrepancies in the memos, apparently from one of Mr Bush's superior officers in the Guard, stating that he had disobeyed orders and pulled political strings to cover up his shortcomings.

But it is a massive blow to the credibility both of CBS News in general, and to that of Dan Rather, the network's veteran anchor, who compiled the report. It ran on the flagship programme, 60 Minutes. CBS named the source of the documents as Bill Burkett, a retired Texas Guard officer. According to the network, Mr Burkett had admitted he deliberately misled one of its producers, lying about their origin to protect the confidentiality of a source.

"We should not have used them," Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, said. "That was a mistake which we deeply regret." The network has ordered an independent review of the incident, which some analysts believe might cost 72-year-old Mr Rather his job.

It has emerged that the network used the memos even though its own experts had warned that they were suspect.

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