Via Glenn, we see that Austin Bay is puzzled by one apsect of the Rathergate debacle: "If it was common knowledge that Mr.Burkett was something of a Bush-hating crank, why would someone of Ms. Mapes/Mr. Rather [ed: ilk? position?] accept information passed to him?"
Hah! Wait until he reads Kevin Drum's reaction to the CBS report. Mr. Drum lived and breathed the "Bush AWOL" story in February 2004, and interviewed both Burkett and his (original) alleged document source, George Conn. Here is just a flavor of his reaction:
A child would be suspicious of [Burkett's original] story — and Burkett later admitted it wasn't true. But in the end, even though Conn was allegedly the source of the documents, and even though this made no sense at all, no one at CBS tried to contact him in Germany. Why? I talked to Conn for 20 minutes when I was researching this stuff in February. If I could get hold of him, why couldn't they?
I don't know how well I'm explaining all this, but trust me: the idea that George Conn was the source of these documents beggars belief. To then accept their authenticity without talking to Conn and despite qualms from at least one document expert, is mind boggling. To later describe Burkett as an "unimpeachable" source takes you straight off into the gamma quadrant.
In related news, Jonathon Last of the Weekly Standard is reading Appendix 4 to the CBS report, and explains the standard by which "The Panel was not able to reach a definitive conclusion as to the authenticity of the Killian documents."
How did they do it? Basically, by wondering whether their expert really was expert enough to reach a conclusion.
Bah. Meanwhile, we are still stewing about yesterday's Times story, which told its readers that "The panel said that the documents had not been properly authenticated, but that it had no evidence they were forgeries."
That is simply not what the panel concluded - the panel had plenty of evidence, but felt that it lacked definitive proof.