New Charges Over Dan Rather's Bush Report
Rather, 72, apologized for the report on Monday evening's broadcast.
Now, USA Today reports that the source of the documents on which Rather based his story gave them to CBS, and a network producer agreed to arrange a conversation between the source – since identified as retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett – and the John Kerry presidential campaign.
Experts in journalistic ethics are saying that if the report is true, CBS may have overstepped and damaged its reputation for credibility and objectivity. The network has announced that it is investigating the matter.
"It is obviously against CBS News standards and those of every other reputable news organization to be associated with any political agenda. As to what actually happened here, it is one of many issues the independent review will be examining," CBS said in a statement.
In an interview with CNN, Kerry campaign aide Joe Lockhart confirmed that CBS had provided him with Burkett's number and that the two spoke days before the Rather story aired.
During the conversation, Lockhart said, they did not discuss the documents but that Burkett offered his advice as to how the Democratic candidate should run his presidential campaign.
"I didn't know who the guy was. I talked to him on the phone for three to four minutes. That's the beginning and the end of the story," Lockhart said, adding that the Kerry campaign had "nothing to do" with the documents.