Burkett Says He Did Not 'Totally Mislead' CBS

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:22pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The same day that CBS News and veteran anchor Dan Rather issued an apology for the controversy over airing faulty documents that criticized President Bush's National Guard service, a source at the center of the issue insisted he did not "totally mislead" the network.

Rather and the network said in a statement earlier that former Texas National Guard official Bill Burkett had acknowledged that he provided the documents and "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."

During his newscast Monday evening, Rather said Burkett "initially told CBS News he got the documents from a fellow guardsmen, but when we interviewed Burkett this past weekend, he changed his story and told us he got the documents from a different source, one we cannot verify."

In a televised interview, Burkett told Rather, "I didn't totally mislead you. I did mislead you on the one individual. Your staff pressured me to a point to reveal that source."

Rather told Burkett, "We were trying to get the chain of possession...and it's true, we pressured you because it was a very important point for us."

"And I simply threw out a name that was basically, it was, I guess to get a little pressure off [me] for a moment," Burkett admitted.

"Have you forged anything?" Rather asked Burkett. "No, sir," Burkett replied.

"Have you faked anything?" Rather asked Burkett. "No, sir," he replied.

"But you did mislead us. You lied to us. Why would I or anyone else believe that you wouldn't mislead us about something else?" Rather asked him.

"I could understand that question. I can't. That's gonna have to be your judgment and anybody else's," Burkett replied.

"Burkett still insists the documents are real, but says he was in no position to verify them," Rather said.

"I also insisted when I sat down with your staff in the first place...before I gave up any documents, I wanted to know what you were going to do with it. And I insisted that they be authenticated," Burkett told Rather.

See Related Stories:
CBS News Acknowledges It Was 'Misled,' Promises Probe (Sept. 20, 2004)
'Serious' Questions Remain About Source of Documents, White House Says (Sept. 20, 2004)
Media Watchdog: CBS Has 'Long Way to Go' (Sept. 20, 2004)

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