updated 9/21/2004 11:24:25 AM ET 2004-09-21T15:24:25

Guests: Bob Kohn, Linda James, Tony Blankley, Jonathan Klein

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline:  Dan Rather and CBS finally admit they are wrong.  The “Real Deal,” it‘s about time. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

For over a week, CBS News has been stonewalling, refusing to admit documents on the president‘s National Guard record could have been forged.  Well, today, the stonewall crumbled, with Dan Rather saying he could no longer back the records and shocking news of coordination between CBS producers, the source of the National Guard documents, and John Kerry‘s campaign. 

And later, another American is beheaded in Baghdad.  The grisly video is shown around the world, as killers threaten to carry out more of these unspeakable acts. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

From Pensacola, Florida, here‘s Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to the show. 

I‘ll tell you what.  I am here in Pensacola, Florida.  I took a tour today with the sheriff, also the police chief.  Unbelievably shocking sights out in Pensacola Beach, in  Perdido, definitely a terrible, terrible scene of devastation here in Pensacola, Florida.  We are going to be talking about that later and showing you what my first reaction was to my home when I went to it earlier today.  Very shocking.

But tonight, we are live from the Fish House in Pensacola, Florida.  This is a place, of course, where congressmen, senators, governors come, not only to meet and greet, but also to eat. 

But we are here tonight, and we are talking about breaking news. 

There‘s a story that‘s come out about shocking contacts that have been made

between the Kerry campaign, the CBS producer behind these forged documents,

and the Kerry supporter who supplied the documents in question.  Kerry

adviser Joe Lockhart told the Associated Press earlier that CBS producer

Mary Mapes asked him the weekend before the story broke to call Bill

Burkett, who she got the documents from—quote—“‘She basically said

there‘s a guy who is being helpful on the story who wants to talk to you,”

Lockhart said, adding that it was common knowledge that CBS was working on

a story raising questions about Bush‘s Guard service.  Mapes told him there

were some records—quote—“that might move the story forward.  She

didn‘t tell me what they said.‘”

With me now to analyze it is Jonathan Klein.  He‘s a former CBS News vice president and the current CEO of The Feed Room.  We also have Pat Buchanan, MSNBC analyst and author of “Where the Right Went Wrong.”  We have got Howard Fineman, “Newsweek” chief political correspondent, Tony Blankley, a reporter for “The Washington Times,” and Bob Kohn, author of “Journalistic Fraud.”

Let me begin with you, Pat Buchanan.  Now, you have been talking for some time about how there‘s an improper relationship in this situation.  Tonight, the Associated Press is reporting that Mary Mapes, a CBS producer, is actually calling Joe Lockhart at the Kerry campaign saying, hey, why don‘t you call this Burkett guy?  He has got some information that may be helpful to you. 

How inappropriate is that? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, what we are looking at, Joe, is an orchestrated attack on the president of the United States led by CBS News, which is using forged, criminally forged documents to take the president down, with CBS informing a hierarchy of the Kerry campaign that the attack is coming, giving Mr. Lockhart access to this Burkett fellow, who has the forged documents. 

He won‘t say where he got them, so you have got a conspiracy, someone else in there.  You have McAuliffe at the Democratic National Committee preparing to launch their fortunate son attack on Bush right after CBS‘ first strike.  What you have got here is the perception, Joe, of massive collusion between CBS News, the Kerry campaign, the Democratic National Committee, to take down the president of the United States after his convention. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, of course, Lockhart is the second Kerry ally to have made contact with Burkett.  Last month, Burkett had a conversation with Max Cleland, a Georgia Democrat and a Kerry ally, about information that he said would counter criticisms of Mr. Kerry‘s Vietnam War record. 

Burkett explained his conversation with Cleland in an e-mail obtained by the Associated Press—quote—“I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to the ground and outlast it, not spending any money.  Cleland said counterattack, so I gave them the information to do it with.”

And, of course, Cleland said he gave Burkett‘s phone number to the campaign‘s research department.  But now there‘s something else, of course, and that is that Joe Lockhart is also making communication with Burkett, apparently at the behest of CBS. 

Let me ask you, Jonathan Klein, is this much to do about nothing?  Does this sort of interaction between campaigns and news organizations take place, warning them of when potential hits are coming, or who they need to contact, who has information to help their campaign along? 

JON KLEIN, FORMER CBS NEWS VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, it‘s sure not the norm, and you‘re certainly not supposed to be ferrying inside information to one side or the other.  You are just trying to get at the facts, ideally, so I am looking forward to this internal investigation that CBS says they are undertaking, and I think we will learn a lot as a result of it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, you were at CBS for some time.  Did that ever happen while you were at CBS, one of the top news executives there? 

KLEIN:  It didn‘t happen when I was an executive.  It didn‘t happen when I was a producer, for an even longer time.  It‘s just so baked into your core not to do something like that. 

And Mary Mapes has been around a long time.  She is one of the top heavy-hitter journalists in the business, television or print.  And so let‘s see how that all shakes out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, after almost two weeks of stonewalling, of course, Dan Rather admitted earlier that he was wrong.  This is what he said on “The CBS Evening News” earlier tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE CBS EVENING NEWS”)

DAN RATHER, HOST:  The failure of CBS News to do just, to properly, fully scrutinize the documents and their source led to our airing the documents when we should not have done so.  It was a mistake.  CBS News deeply regrets it.  Also, I want to say personally and directly, I‘m sorry. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tony Blankley, is that enough to put this crisis behind Dan Rather? 

TONY BLANKLEY, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON TIMES”:  No. 

Look, a couple of things.  First of all, in my experience as Newt‘s press secretary, working in communications for Ronald Reagan in the White House, it‘s certainly not uncommon for news organizations to go to the opposition to try to get dirt on them.  It is uncommon for them to report fraudulent dirt. 

But the big deal in the story isn‘t that she called Lockhart.  The big story is that Lockhart is involved.  And when one political team gets caught trying to sling dirt on the other team, that‘s when they and their candidate get in trouble.  Sasso, who is now a senior player in Kerry‘s campaign, got fired from Dukakis‘ campaign for similar kind of activity. 

And one other big point tonight.  The AP story that reports the Lockhart statement reveals that Lockhart is almost certainly lying in the AP story, because the AP story quotes Lockhart as saying that he called Burkett, but didn‘t talk about the guard.  He talked about the Vietnam vets issue. 

Now, he was told by the CBS producer that they have got some stuff on the Guard story.  Burkett is known—he is Mr. National Guard.  That‘s what he has been doing 10 years.  So when poor old Joe told AP, I didn‘t talk to him about it, that sets up an almost certain lie which has to be looked into. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard Fineman, obviously, you have been covering presidential campaigns at the very top levels for quite some time.  Are you shocked by the latest developments that the Associated Press is reporting of this Rather-gate story, that Mary Mapes is making contact with Joe Lockhart, saying, hey, this is what‘s coming, we are going to move this story forward, and, hey, by the way, why don‘t you call this guy; he has information that may be able to help you out?

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  I don‘t know what to be shocked more by, Joe, some of the contacts that have been revealed or the stupidity behind them. 

I agree, in any campaign, when you are writing a story about or investigating one candidate, and you are a reporter, you go to the other side to see what they have got.  That‘s what opposition research is all about.  That‘s not unusual.  As others pointed out, what is unusual here is the CBS producer, for whatever reasons she may have had, sort of guiding this thing in the direction of the Kerry campaign, telling them to be in touch with this guy Burkett. 

And I agree with Tony.  It doesn‘t seem too likely that Joe Lockhart, who is in the business of being a tough guy, who was brought into this campaign by John Kerry, along with John Sasso, to help sharpen the attacks on George Bush, that they wouldn‘t have talked about—that Lockhart and Burkett would not have talked about what was the topic of the moment at that time, which was the brewing and building attack on George Bush‘s credibility that Democrats were planning. 

There were the Texans For Truth ads that were about to pop.  There was the fortunate son program at the DNC.  It sort of seems unlikely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard, I am going to ask you the same question that I asked Mr. Klein.  Obviously, he worked at the very top of CBS.  I asked him if he ever saw any of this type of horse-trading of information going back and forth between campaigns and journalists.  I‘m going to ask you the same thing.

In all your time at “Newsweek” and in other news organizations, do you ever recall a time when any reporter on “Newsweek” or any other staff you worked on in any other newsroom tried to shovel dirt a political campaign‘s way in any race, whether it‘s for president?  Or when you worked for Louisville, did anybody ever do that on a city council race? 

FINEMAN:  No, I think not.  I think you trade a lot of information, but what you don‘t do as a reporter, what I have never done and frankly what I am sure that no one at “Newsweek” has done is to steer sources in the direction of the campaign, because then you are...

SCARBOROUGH:  Why would she do it, then?  She is such a professional, supposedly.  We keep hearing she‘s a professional, and yet she put this forged document out there, and now she‘s guiding—doing this. 

FINEMAN:  I can imagine a couple of reasons. 

First of all, we reported in “Newsweek” last week that one reason why these documents were so important to CBS is because Ben Barnes, the former lieutenant governor of Texas, who has said that he used influence to get people into the National Guard in Texas, was being reluctant to go on “60 Minutes.”  He didn‘t want to go on “60 Minutes” alone just to retell his story. 

Mike Isikoff, my colleague, dug up the fact that Barnes was telling the people at CBS, I am not going on unless you have another element to this story.  So CBS was determined to have another element, and, of course, that‘s what the memos were all about, and I think it‘s possible that the producer here, in order to kind of curry favor with and be pals with this guy Burkett was basically trying to do for him what Burkett was unable to do for himself, which was namely get through Max Cleland to the campaign. 

But, again, alarm bells should have gone off at that point.  You don‘t steer a source to a campaign for the campaign‘s own use to attack the other side.  You just don‘t do that, because then you are not being a journalist.  You‘re being a political operative. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But Kohn, what does this tell you about CBS News?  Does it confirm all of your worst suspicions and all conservatives and Republicans‘ worst suspicions about CBS News being a biased outfit? 

BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”:  Sure.  Well, CBS News is biased.  It has been documented for years.  Check out RatherBiased.com and MediaResearch.org. 

There‘s no surprise here that CBS News has been biasing the news.  And I am not shocked.  I‘m a little more skeptical than some of your other guests.  I am not shocked that reporters have a symbiotic relationship with those who they cover to do favors and exchange information, particularly when those reporters have a clear bias in favor of one party over another party. 

What I am shocked about is the fact that Dan Rather said he was sorry tonight, but didn‘t say what he was sorry for.  I mean, is he sorry for the cover-up?  Is he sorry that he completely ignored two of the experts that he said, that they could not authenticate the documents?  Is he sorry for biasing the news for the past 20 years?  What is this guy sorry for? 

I think he is sorry he got caught.  I think he‘s sorry that he was forced to do what he was doing today.  I don‘t think he wanted to do this.  Take a look at his action over the past week, the way he‘s been stonewalling.  I think this was the board of directors or the high-ups at Viacom who realized, as businessmen, have a responsibility to their shareholders to investigate crimes, as Pat Buchanan said, or even unethical conduct that goes on within their newspaper. 

(CROSSTALK) 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob, I think you are exactly right. 

Now, if you can hold on, Pat, we are going to be right back with you.  We‘re going to be back with everybody straight ahead, because we got a lot more to talk about, Dan Rather‘s apology, this shocking new relationship, and what the White House is saying about the latest developments.

And also, things may look calm down here in Florida, but we are going to show you just how hard Hurricane Ivan hit my home and the rest of the Gulf Coast.  It‘s remarkable video you are not going to want to miss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  CBS News and Dan Rather want the scandal to go away, but the White House doesn‘t.  The White House sends out a statement.  They want more investigations.  And also the head of the Republican National Committee is demanding more investigations. 

We are going to talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns live from the Fish House in Pensacola, Florida.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to our show. 

I‘ll tell you what.  We have got breaking news here tonight.  The “USA Today,” a Gannett newspaper, is going to be reporting tomorrow morning that CBS is now investigating the connection between Mary Mapes and the Kerry campaign.  And, also, “USA Today” is reportedly saying that Burkett told the “USA Today” that he would turn over the documents to CBS only, only if the network would help arrange a conversation with the Kerry campaign. 

Now let‘s go back to Pat Buchanan. 

Pat, I will tell you what.  This story continues to move forward tonight.  CBS is telling “USA Today” that they are going to have to launch an investigation in Mary Mapes‘ relationship with the Kerry campaign.  How much worse is this going to get for CBS News? 

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s a lot worse. 

I‘ll tell you why.  I think CBS is engaged in a partial cover-up right now, Joe.  Here‘s my reasoning on this.  Dan Rather has—when Rather interviewed Burkett and came out tonight, where was the anger?  Where was the outrage?  The lack of it is the dog that didn‘t bark.  When he is talking to Burkett, why didn‘t he go to Burkett and say: “Mr. Burkett, you have ruined my reputation, you have damaged my network.  You put out to us fraudulent, forged documents, the creation of which was a felony.  Now, you tell me right now, who gave you those documents?  Do you know who produced them?  How they were produced?”

Why didn‘t he go after this fellow hammer and tong?  My surmise is, CBS and Dan Rather know there‘s a lot more to this story than they themselves are telling, and if it were all dragged out, CBS would look worse right now—would look worse then than it does right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jonathan Klein, how do you respond to this latest information?  Is CBS doing the right thing by launching yet another investigation into Mary Mapes and into the suggestion Burkett would turn over the information if he got connected to the Kerry campaign?  And do you agree with Pat Buchanan that Dan Rather didn‘t go far enough in his apology earlier today? 

KLEIN:  Well, I don‘t know that the investigation of Mapes and Lockhart is something new or whether we could characterize it as just part of the investigation that they already announced they would do.  I just don‘t know what was already on the agenda. 

You have to assume that they have grilled Mary, the associate producer, the camera people, anybody involved in the thing, for quite some time, and that it may be news to those of us on the outside, but they may have already been aware of a lot of this stuff, so I don‘t know that that piece of it is new.  And as far as Dan with Burkett, we don‘t know what was said, because we only get to see the pieces that air. 

Pat may be unhappy with Dan‘s performance on the stagecraft of it, but probably there‘s nobody more angry at Burkett right now than Dan Rather, given the price that he has had to pay. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is that? 

KLEIN:  Well, because look what it‘s doing to Dan‘s reputation.  Dan is the one paying a price for all this thing. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, why didn‘t he ask the fellow, who gave you these documents?  Did you know they were forged?  Where did you get them?  And tell us now, because you have been lying to us before. 

And, again, if somebody has done that to me, you want to grab that guy by the lapels and get right in his face.  Why aren‘t they doing that?

KLEIN:  Well, that‘s your style.  I don‘t know that that‘s Dan‘s style, and I don‘t know that he didn‘t do it.  All I know is that did not air. 

BLANKLEY:  Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

BLANKLEY:  Joe, Tony here. 

I think that, as we are sitting here, the story is shifting from being primarily a Dan Rather-CBS story to being a Joe Lockhart-John Kerry story.  CBS isn‘t running for president.  Kerry is.  And if, in fact, we now have his senior communications director at ground zero of this story regarding a corrupt document, that to me going to become a bigger story even than the CBS Dan Rather one, because it could affect the election in a measurable way. 

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  Joe, it‘s Bob Kohn. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Just talk. 

KOHN:  Go ahead.

To make matters worse, these are forged government documents, OK, so there‘s bound to be a criminal investigation, either by one of the state governments like Texas or the federal government.  And what that means is, is that once CBS or the Kerry campaign or anyone gets notified of a government investigation, then any action that you may take can be obstruction of justice or witness tampering.

And Dan Rather or people in the Kerry campaign could end up in the same jail cell as Martha Stewart.  This is exactly what caught her up.  So it‘s not the original act that causes the problems.  It‘s the cover-up.  So I think this independent investigation at the end of the day is going to be run by the lawyers at CBS, not by the journalists. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to ask Howard Fineman. 

Howard, let me bring you in now.  Dan Bartlett told the “USA”—also released a statement.  If my people will put Dan Bartlett‘s quote up on the prompter, I would appreciate it.  Can we have Dan Bartlett‘s quote?  “The fact that CBS News would coordinate at the most senior levels of Senator Kerry‘s campaign is a stunning and deeply troubling revelation that raises serious questions.  It‘s time for the Kerry campaign to come clean about their growing involvement in this scandal and for Senator Kerry to immediately hold accountable anyone in the campaign that was involved.” 

Howard Fineman, this—I am sure, a lot of media people are getting whipped into a frenzy about this.  It is an extraordinarily important story.  But you and I both know the White House has to absolutely be loving what‘s going on right now.  And they are going to do everything they can to make sure this story dies the day after the election. 

FINEMAN:  Well, of course.  I mean, this is on the day when John Kerry tried to launch his umpteenth attack on George Bush‘s policy in Iraq, the new get-tough John Kerry policy that they touted in his speech today at NYU.  All of that is being trampled on cable television and indeed on much of the broadcast TV and I would dare say in the newspapers tomorrow by this story, because it isn‘t just a media story anymore. 

It is a political story.  There were rumors out there this afternoon that perhaps the White House would demand that CBS not be allowed to moderate one of the three presidential debates that are going to take place.  They have thrown that out there.  This is more than Dan Bartlett could have imagined possible when, ironically, two weeks ago, he didn‘t contest, didn‘t think he had a reason to contest apparently the validity of the documents he was shown very hurriedly by CBS on the morning of the first broadcast. 

It‘s really amazing.  I must say, for Pat Buchanan, who worked in the Nixon administration and the Reagan administration, and Tony Blankley, this has got to be more than they could have possibly ever imagined they would have by way of ammunition against a leading American television network.  It‘s just mind-boggling. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You know, Joe, the thing is, is, Tony is right.  It‘s moving beyond CBS and Rather now.  You have got to get Lockhart out there, and you have got to get the former senator from Georgia, Max Cleland, out there, and hold a press conference and say exactly what they were told by this fellow Burkett, who is holding onto forged, criminally forged government documents that are about to be dumped on George Bush, and they have got heads-up about it. 

Did they get copies of these documents?  What were they told about it?  This is stuff that these fellows got to answer.  My guess is that Kerry would be well advised to get them both off his plane. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  He just got them on the plane.  He just got them on the plane. 

(LAUGHTER)

BLANKLEY:  I would predict, with almost certainty, that Joe Lockhart will be fired within 48 to 72 hours.  Kerry has got to cut that point.  This is at the Haldeman stage of firings already. 

FINEMAN:  Well, I think that‘s a little—that may be a little overmuch at this point.

Just because Joe Lockhart is getting information wherever he can get it from, don‘t forget the CBS part of the equation as well here.  I mean, she is the one who suggested that the call be made, and then Lockhart is going to be looking for whatever he can find. 

BLANKLEY:  We don‘t know whether the initial statements made by these people are true or not. 

FINEMAN:  That‘s right. 

BLANKLEY:  We only know the one statement by Lockhart most probably isn‘t.  These can all be as self-serving as they think they can get away with in the first round of fire walls. 

FINEMAN:  Right.  I agree with that.  I agree with that.

BUCHANAN:  But you also have got this fellow down there.  Burkett is a loose cannon.  And I think he knows a lot more than he is saying.  Certainly, he hasn‘t said a word.  Who forged the documents originally? 

FINEMAN:  Right.  Where did the documents come from?  Where did the documents come from?  That‘s the question, Joe.  What‘s the phrase in the law about the thing speaking for itself? 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s what they say, Howard. 

And you know what?  We will be back with more politics again. 

I want to tell you all what the breaking—politics and the law.  But I want to tell you again the breaking news right now.  The “USA Today” is going to report this, that Burkett told the “USA Today” that he had agreed to turn over the documents to CBS if the network would help arrange a conversation with the Kerry campaign.  That is going to be big news tomorrow morning, not only in the “USA Today,” but I suspect in an awful lot of other newspapers and TV shows. 

We‘ll be in just a little bit.  This story is continuing to develop as we go ahead. 

Plus, we are going to be talking about another American who was brutally beheaded in Baghdad and then devastating damage in my hometown of Pensacola. 

All that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We have an expert that looked at these documents for CBS News, told CBS News not to release them.  And Dan Rather didn‘t listen.  And because of that, he is in big trouble tonight.  We are going to talk to that specialist when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

From Pensacola, Florida, once again, Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, clearly, CBS had its facts wrong from the beginning.  That‘s been established. 

But now you have to ask who exactly is to blame and what did CBS know before they aired the story.

With me now is Linda James.  She‘s a forensic document examiner who warned CBS about these very documents before they went to air with their story. 

Linda, tell me, how did CBS contact you, and after you looked at the documents, what did you tell them? 

LINDA JAMES, FORENSIC DOCUMENT EXAMINER:  They contacted me on the 3rd, which was a Friday morning, and they brought the documents.  They hand-delivered them to me on a Saturday, which was on the 4th

And then I reported my findings to them on the 5th and told them about the problems with the documents and asked them to send me additional documents and information that I needed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, after you told them they had problems with the documents, did you suggest to them these documents may, in fact, be forgeries? 

JAMES:  I told them that I could not authenticate the documents, and that the problems were major problems with those documents, and that I needed to have additional documents and information in order to go ahead and analyze and finish my—analyzing the documents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What were your biggest problems with the documents? 

JAMES:  The problem was with the signatures.  And I had just two documents that were in question.  And there were structural differences between the known documents, what we call—were submitted as known to me for comparisons with the questioned signatures.

And if—there was one signature that had an angle at the top, and that was one of the concerns because he always made rounded tops, in other words.  And so I needed to find out questions, if he had health problems or if there was something that might cause that, like a broken arm, or whatever.  But that was never satisfied to me or supplied to me.

And, of course, there was the superscript with the type, and then the

body of the handwriting—the typing, rather, did not have the

superscript.  There was a space that was skipped after the ones and for the

·         so that‘s always a red flag to us.  And the signatures were just not right, or I could not find that within his known signatures.  And I asked...

SCARBOROUGH:  And when you told them this, did they ever get back to you again after you gave them the bad news? 

JAMES:  They did not get back to me.  I did call and ask them, and they told me that they were going to use the National Guard as—to vouch for the documents, and so I had set it aside thinking that they weren‘t going to go forward with us, because—you know, a handwriting expert and document examiner. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Linda, thanks so much. 

Let‘s bring our panel in to get them to respond, Tony Blankley, Howard Fineman, Pat Buchanan, and Bob Kohn.

Howard Fineman, obviously, you are in the news business.  Sometimes “Newsweek” has to pull in experts.  If these experts tell you not to go with a story, what would push your editors to do what CBS did and say forget these outside experts, full-steam ahead? 

FINEMAN:  Well, in my experience, nothing. 

The number of signals that were ignored here is truly remarkable.  You just heard one.  There are dozens of others, almost literally dozens, family members who said that Jerry Killian wasn‘t the kind of guy to keep these kind of notes, factual contradictions in terms of dates, 1972 vs.  1973, etcetera.  And keep in mind here, what the key document here says, now almost certainly forged document says, is that George Bush as a soldier contradicted a direct order from his superior, in other words, an offense that was punishable by court-martial.

So you are alleging in this document that the now president and commander in chief, when he was a young man, committed a court-martialable offense.  That has to have the highest possible standard of proof if you are going to go on the air with it.  But, as I said before, it seems to me, from whatever I can do to piece together the mentality inside CBS, they really wanted to get Ben Barnes on the air, No. 1.  They wanted to kind of cajole him on the air with the notion they had these other memos.

And I think the strict accuracy and validity of the memos was almost incidental to them.  That‘s the charitable—that‘s the most charitable interpretation I can give of what was going through their minds. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s awfully charitable. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, I want to follow up on what Howard Fineman said—and don‘t jump on Howard, now. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I‘m not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He is trying to be polite.  He has to hang around these people.  Now, you can pounce on them if you want to. 

But let me add another fact to it.  Not only were they accusing the commander in chief of court-martialable offense.  They were also doing it within the last 50 days of a presidential campaign, when they knew that this story could bury George Bush‘s chances of winning reelection, Pat Buchanan.  Doesn‘t that make this incident all the more damning for CBS News? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I happen to agree with Howard, because, to me, it is utterly inexplicable.  You have basically bullets there that are going to take down the president of the United States, a high probability given the closeness of this election and the fact this verifies these charges, and you are going ahead with this.

And why you would do that when people are raising questions and raising flags and smoke alarms are going off, what would cause someone to blindly move ahead?  Frankly, Howard has the best explanation I have heard, that these were simply motivations to get Barnes to come in and deliver the killer blow, that he had used influence to get the president, the future president into the National Guard.

But, for the life of me, I will tell you, when you are putting your reputation, your whole—I mean, as Richard Nixon once said, if you are going to take down a king, you‘ve got to kill him.  And if they are walking up there with phony documents, this is almost suicidal blindness. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

And, Tony Blankley, again, like you said before, this isn‘t just about Dan Rather anymore.  It goes much deeper than that with this latest “USA Today” story coming that‘s out tonight.  Do you think we may see the resignation of CBS News president Andrew Heyward? 

BLANKLEY:  I don‘t know about CBS.  They probably have a lot of ability to hang tough in there. 

I will tell you something that‘s very odd about this.  Why was Joe Lockhart talking with this questionable witness?  He is the strategic communications director working in headquarters.  He is not supposed to be doing opposition research work.  He should have had a cutout.  He is now caught doing the dirty work.  It‘s stunning to me they would let him get this far down in the story. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  The reason is, Tony, that, keep in mind, when this was happening, where we were having yet another transition in the Kerry campaign, the new crew of tough guys was coming aboard.  John Sasso was going to the plane.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Mike Whouley was going to organization.  Joe Lockhart was taking over message.

And, of course, the content of Kerry‘s message, the new Kerry, was supposed to be the tough, take-no-prisoners guy.  That‘s why he was in on it. 

(CROSSTALK)

BLANKLEY:  I understand that.  But Lockhart is a former presidential press secretary.  He‘s at a much higher level.  In political operations, you never let people that high get their fingers dirty. 

FINEMAN:  It sounds like you are speaking from experience there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me bring in Jon Klein. 

Jon Klein, I want to ask you, we are doing a lot of looking back at what CBS News has done wrong.  I asked the question about this becoming much bigger than Dan Rather.  If you are president of CBS News tonight, what do you do to set your news organization, which has been one of the most trusted news organizations over the past half-century, what do you do to get it flying right again, to get it going in the right direction? 

KLEIN:  You kick a lot of butt, and I am sure you don‘t start doing it tonight.  I am sure it‘s been going on for the better part of 10 days, believe me.  When we hear about these things, it‘s already been cooking for a while. 

One explanation that I think we can eliminate, though, that‘s been voiced here earlier is that sense that somehow CBS has got this agenda to get anybody.  I will tell you, if it existed, it existed in secret from me.  And I was privy to a lot of pretty good conversations where that kind of plan could have been hatched.  I never saw it, in service to your viewers. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Jon, do you think that, also, that what might have happened in this case is Dan Rather was afraid if he didn‘t move forward with this story as quickly as possible, that somebody else might scoop him or it may show up on The Drudge Report or it may show up on a cable news show, and so he moved a little bit faster than he would have 15 years ago, when he was basically competing between two other anchors and “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times”? 

KLEIN:  Well, you know, his phaser is always set on stun.  He always wants to get that story out.

But, yes, I wouldn‘t be surprised that competitive issues drove everyone, not just Dan, because it‘s a misnomer I think to think that this is a cult of personality, where one guy can ram a story through.  There are many, many people whose hands get all over these stories.  And sort of everybody got dragged along, and maybe it was they wanted to get the story out. 

Ironically, “60 Minutes”‘ Wednesday edition—their season doesn‘t even kick off until next week.  So they could have gotten away with just airing repeats until next week. 

(LAUGHTER)

KLEIN:  It‘s not like they had to come up with a fresh story for that edition or anything. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And I am sure right now they wish they would have done that.  It‘s very interesting.  You look at the statement earlier tonight, very obvious that they are trying to distance CBS‘ “60 Minutes” Wednesday from “60 Minutes” Sunday. 

Pat Buchanan, Tony Blankley, Bob Kohn, Howard Fineman, thank you all for being here tonight. 

And, of course, Jon, I want to thank you so much for being here, too. 

Now, earlier, we told you about how Dan Rather finally apologized for relying on allegedly forged documents.  We are going to be talking about that much more in the coming days. 

And we are going to also be talking about what I found when I came home to Pensacola, Florida.  See you in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, earlier, we told you about how Dan Rather finally apologized for lying on allegedly forged documents after defending them for more than two weeks.

Now, Dan Rather is not alone in taking his sweet time before issuing a mea culpa.  And SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, we dug up some of the biggest, fattest, most arrogant lies ever told.  Enjoy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

RATHER:  What‘s in the “60 Minutes” report, CBS News believes to be true and believes the documents are authentic. 

RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.  Well, I‘m not a crook. 

WILLIAM J. CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn‘t like it and didn‘t inhale and never tried it again. 

PETE ROSE, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER:  I never bet on the Cincinnati Reds And I never bet on baseball. 

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Read my lips, no new taxes. 

RATHER:  Today, on the Internet and elsewhere, some people, including many who are partisan political operatives, concentrated not on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the story.  They allege that the documents are fake.  If any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it.  So far, there is none. 

O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER:  I have one chance for total vindication, one chance for the real killers to come forward. 

HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY:  The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. 

W. CLINTON:  I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms.  Lewinsky.  I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never.  These allegations are false. 

RATHER:  Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of our report.  If we uncover any information to the contrary, rest assured, we shall report that also. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that kind of went after everybody, doesn‘t it? 

Just ahead, I‘m going to give you a tour of my hometown, Pensacola, Florida, and get a close-up look at Hurricane Ivan‘s terrible toll. 

That‘s in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tuesday night is celebrity night on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No, we are not going to have Triumph back.  We‘re going to have actor Gary Sinise talking to us about his new show, “CSI New York,” and his even more exciting USO tour.  Plus, we‘re going to have comedian Bill Maher.  That‘s all tomorrow night on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

We‘ve got more straight ahead.  Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now to a story a little closer to home for me.  Hurricane Ivan may be gone, but when I returned home to Pensacola to look at the damage, I was simply unprepared for what I would find. 

As I toured the area with my good friend Collier Merrill. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  The amazing thing is, when I was driving in last night, I actually was coming down the main thoroughfare, 12th Avenue, and I knew I was coming up on the Catholic Church that‘s right across the street from me, but because all the trees had been ripped out.

I actually was disoriented, didn‘t know exactly where I was.  And you see behind here all of these—these are magnolia trees over 100 years old.  They are actually the centerpiece of the house.  They got just ripped to shreds.  You go up to the top of this one up here, it‘s just—it‘s amazing.  Somebody said they walked out of their house, and it was like a nuclear winter, because the entire skyline has been changed forever. 

I always tell people, it‘s the oldest city in America, but not continuous, because the hurricane—two hurricanes, I think, actually came and wiped a settlement out.  They finally gave up. 

Look at this.  This is amazing.  This is actually cement pilings from the dock over there that—it has been thrown over—this is remarkable. 

Collier, this is amazing.  Look at this.  Sarah (ph) is obviously—my wife got her wedding dress from here.

And what were you saying?  This was just—I think the grand opening was going to be Saturday. 

COLLIER MERRILL, BUSINESSMAN:  Sarah has been here a long time, but took this other building and extended on.  They were going to have a grand opening on Saturday. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I have never seen anything like this. 

And, of course, we are from Florida.  We are used to these kind of storms.  What was it like going through a night that caused this type of destruction? 

JOHN MATHIS, PENSACOLA POLICE CHIEF:  Well, going through that night, for me personally, Joe, it was a horrifying experience.  It was to the point at the police department where we were actually concerned about safety in the building itself.  I‘ve been through several of these before in past years, but this is by far the worst I have seen and hopefully never see another one like it again. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I‘ll tell you what.  It really was remarkable. 

I want to thank Chief Mathis.  That‘s who we were talking to there.  He certainly helped us out throughout the storm.  We called him.  Also, I want to thank Randy Hammer and Ginny Graybiel at “The Pensacola News Journal.”

Still, if you want to see the most remarkable pictures of this storm, go to PensacolaNewsJournal.com.  They stayed with us throughout the storm, kept us up to date, of course helped us out with Ron Reagan also.  I want to thank Collier Merrill for walking us around, letting us use the Fish House tonight.

But, most importantly, I want to thank the people in the community.  Community of Pensacola, you all have stuck together.  And we are really coming back.  I want to thank all of you for all your support. 

Hey, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will be back tomorrow night, same time, same place.  See you tomorrow. 

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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