MISSED OPPORTUNITY? RAthERGATE AND MAPES
60 Minutes II producer (or just plain 60 Minutes, or 60 Minutes, Wednesday, depending on who wins the civil war
) Mary Mapes contacted
Joe Lockhart at the Kerry Campaign and asked him to call Bill Burkett, saying Burkett had been quite helpful on the story that became DanRon. The request was made, apparently, as a condition of receiving the bogus documents from Burkett. Lockhart
acknowledges speaking to Burkett in response to Mapes' request.
The press and the blogosphere are abuzz with the possibilities
raised by this second contact between Burkett and the Kerry campaign (the first being with former Senator Cleland). Was Rath
ergate an attempted Democratic dirty trick by the campaign or the DNC?????? More violations of journalistic ethics at CBS!!!!! Stay tuned for futher details!!!!
But the thing that bothers me about this wrinkle is not the (logical but somewhat unlikely) possibility of involvement in Rath
ergate by high officials of the Kerry campaign. What gets me is that Mapes was freely disclosing her source to Lockhart at the very same time that Rather was refusing to tell the rest of us who that source was.
That raises two questions:
Having already disclosed the source to people outside of CBS News, how can Rather have claimed for more than a week that his journalistic ethics prevented him from disclosing the source to the pajamasphere? This is in addition to the obvious one of whether Rather should have protected his source at all, having been burned by that very same source.
The more interesting of the two questions is this: Lockhart knew the identity of the source. He knew (or should have known) that the source had provided faked documents to Mapes and Rather. So why didn't Lockhart disclose the identity of the source?
Wouldn't that have been proof positive that the Kerry campaign was not involved in the scam? Wouldn't that have been the best possible condemnation of the avalanche of mud and irrelevancies that this campaign has become?
Was it an opportunity missed? Or an attempt to protect a friend in the press?