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Hannity

Memogate: Was CBS Duped?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Sept. 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Speaking of being out of touch, what is going on at CBS? The documents used in the "60 Minutes" piece last week are being questioned by many other major news organizations and even one of CBS's own sources now says that the network misled him, but still CBS won't budge.

Joining us now, former CBS News correspondent, author of the incredible best selling books, "Bias" and "Arrogance," Bernie Goldberg.

All right. So you were way ahead of your time. Because you were warning the world this was coming, really?

BERNIE GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, "BIAS" AND "ARROGANCE": Well, in a way I was, because I think when you have big media organizations like CBS News and the other networks, and the New York Times and the L.A. Times living in the kind of bubble that they live in, the kind of comfortable, elite, liberal bubble, bad things are going to happen.

And inside that bubble there aren't a lot of George W. Bush supporters and in this particular case, Sean, I think I know what happened. They spent a lot of time on the story. They invested a lot of money on the story. And, at some point, they wanted the story to be true.

HANNITY: Yes.

GOLDBERG: And as a result, they put into the story everything that supported their premise that George Bush was a liar and he shirked his responsibilities. And they left out anything that would have gone against that premise.

HANNITY: I'll tell you the thing that really got me in this whole story here, Bernie.

And by the way, I remember you sitting right next to me here, in this studio, where I am right now, and you saying if CBS would only listen, they could save themselves from a lot of potential harm that was inevitable down the road. I remember you saying that.

But here's what's bothers me. I interviewed Colonel Killian's son both on radio and TV last week.

GOLDBERG: Yes.

HANNITY: ABC Radio did a piece with Colonel Killian's wife. They were interviewed. They told the producer none of this was true. They said the documents weren't real. They said that their father and husband had praised George W. Bush, admired him, would never have said anything like this.

They ignored a major component in the story and they're saying well, "Well, we corroborated it with distant sources."

That is the most outrageous thing in this whole story.

GOLDBERG: Let me tell you how that happens. First, the producer, Mary Mapes; neither she nor Dan Rather said, "I know we have phony documents. Let's go with them anyway."

That didn't happen. That never, ever happens.

But when you've invested all that time I spoke about and all that money, you don't want a he said on the one hand and she said on the other hand. You want a story that's forceful and powerful.

HANNITY: Wait a minute.

GOLDBERG: That's why...

HANNITY: Do you think the Kerry campaign fed this to them? Because I am very suspicious of that.

GOLDBERG: Well, this to me is the single most important question that has yet to be answered.

I don't expect CBS News to burn its source. I don't expect CBS News to say, "Joe Blow gave us the documents."

But CBS News has an obligation to give us as much information as it can about the kind of person who gave them the documents. If it turns out — if, and I'm underlying if — if it turns out that the documents are fakes — and I'm willing to say the jury is still out on that, even though it looks pretty bad — and if, and I'm underlying if again, it turns out that people from the Democratic National Committee or the Kerry campaign for that matter gave them the documents, then CBS News has an obligation to tell us that that happened.

That is a major, major news story. And it's of major importance.

So while I don't expect CBS to give up the source by name, at least give us as much information as you can about who that source is. What are his interests? What are his biases?

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Look, we agree: this looks fishy. I think that you have some good points and CBS has some explaining to do, but I also question this issue of giving up the source under certain circumstances.

GOLDBERG: I don't want them to give up the source. It is normal operating procedure in big time journalism, when you're using an unnamed source to at least tell the reader or the viewer something about the source. So you might say, "A source with connections to the administration."

COLMES: Should Robert Novak have done the same thing about Valerie Plame and given some information about where that source came from or something about that source to help solve that problem?

GOLDBERG: Alan, I've been on this show a number of times. And I honestly feel sorry that you have to come up with these ridiculous questions to...

COLMES: It's not a ridiculous question. Give me a ridiculous answer if you think my question is so ridiculous.

GOLDBERG: Alan, you know as well as I do that there is not an ounce of difference between how I see this issue and how you, a liberal, sees this issue.

COLMES: So you want to hold to the same standard?

GOLDBERG: Yes, I want the same standards all the time. I want to know either who the source is, in all stories, but when you can't do that, at least give us some information so that we know if the person has an ax to grind.

COLMES: All right. That means this person says he's accused the Kerry campaign of being behind this.

Now, should he have something to back that up? Should the media vet whether that is true or not before we make these wild allegations that Kerry or the Democrats are somehow behind this? We don't know who's behind it, if anybody?

GOLDBERG: I agree. I agree.

And the person who came forward and said, "This may have been Karl Rove's doing" were the Republicans, trying to embarrass the Democrats.

We shouldn't even be putting that kind of nonsense out without some substantiation.

COLMES: Tell me if you think...

GOLDBERG: I'm not asking for a lot. I'm just saying, either tell us who the source is, specifically, or tell us enough about the source so we know if these documents are fake, how you got duped?

COLMES: All right. Tell me if this is relevant.

GOLDBERG: This is important. CBS, if the documents are fake, got duped. CBS didn't do this intentionally.

COLMES: I think it's interesting. You're not accusing them of doing anything intentionally, but you're saying that clearly they'll have to pay the price with credibility wise if they're behind it.

GOLDBERG: That's right. I'm saying they didn't do anything intentionally but I'm saying, they're handling this. If they tried to handle this in the worst way possible, that's exactly what they're doing.

HANNITY: I agree.

Bernie Goldberg, of course, his best selling books, "Bias" and "Arrogance."

Very ahead of the curve, Bernie. Good to see you, my friend. Thanks for being with us.

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