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Right Intention: CBS Report Out, Still Some Questions

Monday, January 10, 2005

CBS Report Out, Still Some Questions

The report on memogate is finally out. This is going to be picked clean by the blogsphere so I'm not even going to try. But from the early commentary I've seen, one thing stands out. On page 28 of the document, it more or less denies that political bias played a role in the fiasco.

The Panel is aware that some have ascribed political motivations to 60 Minutes Wednesday’s decision to air the September 8 Segment just two months before the presidential election, while others further found political bias in the program itself. The Panel reviewed this issue and found certain actions that could support such charges. However, the Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing of the Segment or its content.

Given that the Panel does not believe that political motivations drove the September 8 Segment, questions likely will be raised as to why these massive breakdowns occurred on this story at an organization like CBS News with its heritage and stated commitment to the highest standards of journalism. The Panel heard from many that the Rather/Mapes team was a formidable force at 60 Minutes Wednesday. Great trust was placed in Mapes, a highly respected producer who had just produced a widely acclaimed segment on the Abu Ghraib prison abuses, and vast deference was given to Rather, the “face” of CBS News. These factors, along with the “crash” of the production, contributed greatly to the failures of the September 8 Segment and the
Aftermath.


If politcal bias played no role in the story, why did Andrew Heyard recently go to the White House to promise:

“and from here on out would do everything it could to be fair and balanced.”

There must be a guilty conscience somewhere at CBS.

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