Now, 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. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.
But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.
Extensive additional interviews meaning Rather’s belated interview with Bill Burkett in Texas. Nothing given by Burkett should ever have been seen as credible in the first place. What I find funny is that in 2000 Burkett accused the Bush campaignas "doctoring" his military records. I guess doctoring is wrong but outright forging is okay in his book. Burkett has previously said:
"I glanced down at the top of those documents. In ink was the word ‘Bush, George W., 1 Lt.’ This was a performance report. I was right at the trash can. I filtered through the top five or six pages in that, and they were all copies and originals of old performance documents and pay records for ‘Bush, George W., 1 Lt."
Then it was determined that TANG never stored any documents at the location that he claimed to find the documents and in 2000 this statement was proved to be false. So here again in 2004 he presents those "same documents" and CBS is confident in both their source and that the documents are real. Five minutes on Google would have been all that it would take for anybody in the CBS’s investigative team to come up with deep suspicions about the documents they received. With the source so tainted the only way to go forward would be to have absolute verification of the documents. Of course we later found out that CBS’s own experts had grave doubts and yet they went forward anyway. So you have both a questionable source and questionable material and that is good enough as long as George Bush is the target.
If they truly believe themselves to be misled then they suffer the same flaw that enables con men to flourish. The old saying from con men is that you can’t cheat an honest man. Con men often use a person’s greed to trick them into a scam. The mark is so intent on the promise that they don’t see how implausible the promise is. The same with CBS. They were son intent on the promise to discredit President Bush that they were blind to who implausible and timely the documents were.