ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

On Wednesday night, just as the first feeds of the evening news broadcasts were ending, CBS released a lengthy statement that: — named another document examiner: James J. Pierce — said Pierce and Matley still think the documents are authentic — acknowledged unspecified "contradictions" in the evidence — employed an even-if-the-docs-are-fake-their-content-is-true argument

The statement said, "Numerous questions have been raised about the authenticity of the documents. CBS News believes it is important for the news media to be accountable and address legitimate questions."

More from the statement: "CBS News is not prepared to reveal its confidential sources or the method by which 60 MINUTES Wednesday received the documents. CBS News' reporting determined that the source of the memos had access to the documents he provided and an opportunity to obtain copies of them. Our sources included individuals who had first-hand knowledge of the events in question."

The statement also focused on the producer behind the story: "Additionally, Mary Mapes, the producer of the report and a well-respected, veteran journalist whose credibility has never been questioned, has been following this story for more than five years. She has a vast and detailed knowledge of the issues surrounding President Bush's service in the Guard and of the individuals involved in the story. Before the report was broadcast, it was vetted and screened in accordance with CBS News standards by several veteran 60 MINUTES Wednesday senior producers and CBS News executives."

The statement said that Pierce and James "appeared on a competing network (Tuesday), where they misrepresented their conversations and communication with CBS News."

The CBS statement also asserted that they had asked two more people, an IBM typewriter technician and a computer software expert with "specific expertise relative to the documents," to examine them and they "found nothing to lead them to believe that the documents did not date back to the early 1970s."

The New York Times ' Rutenberg and Zernike write, "Inside the network, Mr. Rather's colleagues expressed growing alarm at questions about the documents' authenticity."LINK

In a telephone interview with USA Today , Rather "said repeatedly in an interview, [no one] has yet disputed 'the heart' of his report. But, he said, a 'thick partisan fogging machine seeks to cloud the core truth of our story by raising questions about the messenger, methods and techniques,'" reports Johnson and Drinkard. LINK

The Washington Post 's Howard Kurtz sits down with Dan Rather and reports, "Some friends of Rather, whose contract runs until the end of 2006, are discussing whether he might be forced to make an early exit from CBS." LINK

In an article that mostly speculates about Bill Burkett's involvement in the purported National Guard memos about then Lt. Bush, the Washington Post 's Michael Dobbs reports that the memos were faxed to CBS from an Abilene, TX Kinko's. LINK

The New York Times ' Ralph Blumenthal on Bill Burkett. LINK

The Washington Post ominously says:

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