Leaving aside the devastating implications for the Kerry campaign, this story in today's USA Today is a political earthquake for CBS News. USA Today says that CBS passed the memos story on to the Kerry campaign before it even ran on 60 Minutes II.
According to the story:
[Joe] Lockhart, the former press secretary to President Clinton [and current Kerry campaign aide], said a producer talked to him about the 60 Minutes program a few days before it aired on Sept. 8. She gave Lockhart a telephone number and asked him to call Bill Burkett, a former Texas National Guard officer who gave CBS the documents.CBS News not only rushed to get a poorly-sourced, falsified story damaging to President Bush on the air, but they also leaked it to the Kerry campaign beforehand. The political motivation is clear. As little as I respect the Kerry campaign, it's not their fault CBS called them. But for CBS, this news is absolutely cataclysmic.
I do not believe at this point that Dan Rather can survive until the election. The only way CBS can possibly restore their reputation (mediocre as it may have been) is to clean house of everyone involved in this story immediately. It's very possible that they will--at least once reality sets in, which recent events have shown is a slow process at Black Rock.