A half hour ago, Dan Rather went on CNN and said that he knows the Jerry Killian documents to be authentic, and knows that they are not forgeries. Therefore, he said, there will be no retraction, no correction, and — apparently — no investigation. The text of the interview is not yet available on CNN’s site, but we’ll link to it when it becomes available.
What does this mean? Last night, it was reported that senior executives at CBS News were promising an investigation. Today, Dan Rather is personally vouching for the documents’ authenticity. This can only mean that Rather himself is the source of the documents. This makes sense; if a staffer on the 60 Minutes payroll had come up with the purported records, the story never would have run without the documents being authenticated. Who has the power to drive this story on to the air without an investigation that would include, for example, contacting Killian’s widow, or his son? Dan Rather does.
This would appear to signal the end of Rather’s career. If the documents are ultimately accepted as forgeries, which seems inevitable to us, he can’t survive. My guess: Rather knows that he will be retiring soon in any event, so as his last public contribution, he is doing whatever he can to elect John Kerry.
An informant, meanwhile, has a theory about how Rather got the forged documents: keep an eye on Ben Barnes.
UPDATE: CBS News has issued a statement on the fraudulent documents. Bottom line: there will be no investigation.
This report was not based solely on recovered documents, but rather on a preponderance of evidence, including documents that were provided by unimpeachable sources, interviews with former Texas National Guard officials and individuals who worked closely back in the early 1970s with Colonel Jerry Killian and were well acquainted with his procedures, his character and his thinking.
In addition, the documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content. Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned.
So there you have it: CBS News is walking the plank for the Kerry campaign.