CBS admits it was misled

Here’s the guts of a CBS story on its own statement:

In a statement, CBS said former Texas Guard official Bill Burkett “has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents” and “admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents’ origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source.”

The network did not say the memoranda — purportedly written by one of Mr. Bush’s National Guard commanders — were forgeries. But the network did say it could not authenticate the documents and that it should not have reported them.

“Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report,” said the statement by CBS News President Andrew Heyward. “We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret.

“Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting,” Heyward continued. “We will continue to work tirelessly to be worthy of that trust.”

In a separate statement, Rather said that “after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically.”

“I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers,” he said.

“We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry,” Rather added.

Now will come the analysis of the analysis and the more pressing matter of how badly this has damaged CBS’s credibility, and that of every other news organization.

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