Tuesday, September 21, 2004

 

Yet more docu-drama

From this morning's CNN website:

CBS producer called Kerry adviser Mapes suggested Lockhart contact retired officer Burkett

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A campaign adviser for John Kerry told CNN he spoke with retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett -- the man who CBS said provided them with disputed documents -- days before the "60 Minutes" piece aired and after a call from a CBS news producer, but strongly denied any connection with the story.

The Bush-Cheney campaign quickly condemned the latest revelation in the reporting scandal, calling on the Kerry camp to "come clean" on its involvement.

The Kerry adviser, Joe Lockhart, late Monday denied any coordination or connection with CBS. Asked if anyone in the campaign had any involvement in pushing the story, Lockhart said, "No."

"We had nothing to do with these documents or forgeries or whatever they are," Lockhart, who served as press secretary in the Clinton White House, told CNN's Candy Crowley. "I did not talk to Burkett about any documents or even the National Guard story."

CBS News said Monday it cannot vouch for the authenticity of documents that cast doubt on President Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, and its top anchor, Dan Rather, apologized for the report on-air. (Full story)

Burkett, the man who provided the documents to CBS, denied forging the documents but admitted he lied to CBS about who provided them.
Lockhart said he talked with Burkett the Sunday or Monday before the CBS News report aired Wednesday, September 8.

According to the Kerry adviser, he was called by CBS News producer Mary Mapes that Saturday night, who told him Burkett had been "helpful" on the story and wanted to talk to the campaign.

Lockhart said Mapes told him CBS had some kind of documents related tothe president's Guard service, but did not say what they were or that they came from Burkett.

In what Lockhart said was three- to four-minute conversation, he said Burkett offered advice on the attack ads being run by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, saying the Kerry campaign had not done enough to respond.

According to Lockhart, Burkett encouraged the campaign to "be tougher" and give a major speech on Vietnam.

Lockhart said the conversation ended there, adding that "I have not talked to him since." He also said he has not spoken to Mapes since.

Lockhart said he was aware CBS was working on the Guard story because "You know how it works in Washington. Everybody talks to everybody." He said he told the Kerry campaign about his contact with Burkett, and was not told of any problem with it.

In a statement released Monday by the Bush-Cheney campaign, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett called the developments "stunning and deeply troubling."

"The fact that CBS News would coordinate with the most senior levels of Senator Kerry's campaign ... raises serious questions," Bartlett said. "It's time for the Kerry campaign to come clean about their involvement in this growing scandal and for Senator Kerry to immediately hold accountable anyone in his campaign that was involved."

A CBS spokeswoman told The Associated Press that the network will investigate Mapes' involvement in putting Lockhart in touch with Burkett.

"This is an example of the kind of thing that the independent panel that will be named in a few days will look into. When that review is complete, we will comment," Kelli Edwards said.

Find this article at: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/09/21/cbs.kerry.adviser/index.html

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