Reader Ken Stepanek noted that Bill Burkett’s wife Nikki posted these comments on a Yahoo group site called “Texas Democrats.” I believe this is the same site where Burkett related his communications with Max Cleland as an agent for the Kerry campaign. Mrs. Burkett’s post is cryptic, but interesting; we pass it along for those who (like us) are interested in the minutiae of the Rather affair:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
This morning I received a phone call and later a URL address from a senior journalist in Washington.
For the first time, someone put the CBS story into a slight bit of context; from which some of you reported or went quiet as soon as the lynch mob took over. In one case on this list, our attorneys are actively considering legal actions within the statute of limitations and following the report of the VIACOM Panel.
This past week, we may have scared the Devil out of senior folks at CBS and throughout the journalistic World. We are now negotiating with the VIACOM panel for an in-depth interview to explore the facts and documentation of the story; the roles of CBS, ABC, the Associated Press, New York TImes, USA Today and numerous others who actively sought Bill out as a source on the story and their backlash after the story went elsewhere. We have already received open-ended offers from NBC, publishers and lately a Movie producer.
This is background information only. But please understand that Bill has remained quiet while VIACOM conducted it’s investigation.
However, this article from the Columbia Journalism Review, what we are told is the media’s most highly respected ethical publication.
This URL is sent for your review of the story.
If you choose to republish, as many of you will, please contact the publisher. Not us.
It’s hard to understand what Mrs. Burkett means when she says that she and Bill are “negotiating with the Viacom panel,” (i.e., the Thornburgh group, I take it) for an in-depth interview. Isn’t it a little late for that?
UPDATE: Captain Ed wrote to point out something I’d missed: the date of Mrs. Burkett’s post is listed as Jan. 3, a week before the Thornburgh report was issued. So it’s a tantalizing insight — assuming, of course, that the post is both genuine and true — but we don’t know whether Burkett followed up and met with the Thornburgh group or not. I don’t have the report before me, and I don’t recall whether it makes clear, one way or the other, whether the panel met with Burkett. I don’t recall seeing any specific reference to him. If the panel met with Burkett and didn’t relate what he told them, it’s a pretty astonishing hole in the report.
Captain Ed’s post is here.
ONE MORE THING: Reader David Lott reminds us that Bill Burkett had a blog for a while last fall. It doesn’t contain anything of great import, but if you’re starting to get a little obsessive about this case, it’s worth checking out. The most interesting post to me was the last one, dated October 5, which was a series of questions and answers. Here is the final one:
Question: Did I represent them as Authentic?
I will not be trapped by this question. I presented the documents to CBS as having come from a source that claimed to have had proper access; however, I could not verify the source to 100% certainty and could not verify the authenticity of the documents to 100% certainty though I believed them to be true on the basis of what I had been told and the basis that the information contained within them seemed both reasonable and reasonably communicated.
If this is true–with Burkett, an utterly unreliable witness, always a huge if–it makes nonsense of Dan Rather’s repeated assurance that the documents came from an “unimpeachable source.” Of course, that’s pretty much nonsense in any event.
ONE LAST UPDATE: Ratherbiased.com notes that the Thornburgh report says that the panel did not interview Burkett, as he tried to impose conditions that they considered unacceptable. My guess is that valuable information could be obtained from Burkett, but it would best be done by an investigator, not by a team of lawyers.