Started by Pernicious, Jan 10, 2005, 02:33 PM
CBS fires four employees over Bush service-record storyLast Updated Mon, 10 Jan 2005 14:45:51 ESTCBC ArtsNEW YORK - CBS fired three executives and a producer Monday, after the release of an independent investigation into a story on 60 Minutes that negatively portrayed U.S. President George W. Bush's military service and relied on dubious documents.The American network fired Mary Mapes, who produced the report; Josh Howard, the executive producer of 60 Minutes Wednesday; senior broadcast producer Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West.Mary Mapes in 1999. (AP photo)The news segment, which aired Sept. 8 during the U.S. presidential campaign, relied on four documents allegedly written in the early 1970s by the late Lt.-Col. Jerry Killian, one of Bush's Texas Air National Guard commanders. The story suggested that Bush had used his father's political connections to get into the Air National Guard - and avoid going to Vietnam - and had not fulfilled his service obligations.A number of officials and members of the public raised questions about the authenticity of the documents almost immediately after the show aired, but CBS News continued to defend the story for almost two weeks."The bottom line is that much of the Sept. 8 broadcast was wrong, incomplete or unfair," Les Moonves, CBS president and co-president of parent company Viacom, said in a statement."We deeply regret the disservice this flawed 60 Minutes Wednesday report did to the American public, which has a right to count on CBS News for fairness and accuracy," he said. * RELATED STORY: CBS apologizes for using Bush service memos'Myopic zeal,' 'rigid and blind defense' compounded problem: Independent reportThe firings came after Monday's release of a 224-page independent report by a two-man panel comprising Dick Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general, and Louis Boccardi, the former CEO and president of the Associated Press. In late September, CBS had commissioned the panel to conduct a review of the situation."Both the Sept. 8 segment itself and the statements and news reports by CBS News that followed the segment failed to meet" the core journalistic principles of accuracy and fairness that CBS expects from its personnel, read the report.While Thornburgh and Boccardi did not conclude whether the "Killian documents are authentic or forgeries," it did identify "a number of issues that raise serious questions about the authenticity of the documents and their content. With better reporting, these questions should have been raised before the Sept. 8 segment aired."The report cited the involved parties' "myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a new story about President Bush's [Texas Air National Guard] service."George W. Bush during his time in the Texas Air National Guard. (AP file photo)The issue was then compounded by "the rigid and blind defense of the segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings," the report said.Panel's recommendationsThe panel also recommended a number of changes, including: * Appoint a senior standards and practices executive, reporting directly to the president of CBS News, who would review all investigative reporting, use of confidential sources and authentication of documents. Personnel should feel comfortable going to this person confidentially and without fear of reprisal, with questions or concerns about particular reports. * Foster an atmosphere in which competitive pressure is not allowed to prompt airing of reports before all investigation and vetting is done. * Allow senior management to know the names of confidential sources as well as all relevant background about the person needed to make news judgments. * Appoint a separate team, led by someone not involved in the original reporting, to look into any news report that is challenged.News anchor Dan Rather, who was the correspondent on the story, announced in November that he would be stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News, but he insisted that the timing had nothing to do with the investigation.Given the televised apology Rather offered after the fiasco and his announcement about stepping down, Moonves said further action against Rather was not warranted.
The thing that got me was 3 of the 4 people fired were women?