September 21, 2004
USAT Does Some Actual Reporting
USA Today got Bill Burkett to talk publicly about his role in the Killian memo story. He doesn't admit to being the source of the memos. Instead, someone named Lucy Ramirez is supposedly the source. Burkett claims to have received a phone call from her in March. That led to him getting the documents later that month while in Houston. Burkett never met Ramirez and USA Today hasn't been able to locate her. Initially, George Conn was named by Burkett as the memos' source.
This story has shed light on how the story got into the newspaper. About an hour after the 60 Minutes II story aired, Burkett gave the newspaper the memos. It also mentions Burkett's role in previous USA Today stories. The paper admits they took the memos at "face value."
The focus of the innacurate reporting remains on CBS News. Also, while a few questions are answered, many remain. Plus, additional ones must be asked: Was there a pre-arrangement for Burkett to give USA Today the memos after the 60 Minutes II airing? Who said what to whom to arrange Burkett to give a reporter (neither Moniz or Drinkard) in Bozeman, MT?
Most importantly, the paper still has issued no apology to President Bush or their readers. The intent of the fraud was to damage President Bush and swing the election to John Kerry. By reporting the memos as true and authentic, USA Today was part of a dirty trick plot of historic proportions.
It would be nice if USA Today's Peter Johnson would actually point the figure at his employer for shoddy journalism instead of just lumping the paper in with other scarred media organizations.
"CBS Backs off Guard Story"
UPDATE: Paul at Wizbang goes off on Burkett and his latest story.