Untangling The Mess At Cbs

Tim McGivern
3 min read
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Now that the fallout from CBS’ “60 Minutes Wednesday” Bush National Guard story debacle has left a few of the station’s news producers left for dead, professionally speaking, following a detailed 224-page investigation funded by the network and released to the public this week, anyone with a fleeting interest should check out two excellent examinations of the report posted on Salon and Slate this week. Both critiques are worth the full read and below are links and excerpts that ought to tantalize even the most steadfast and simple-minded GOP suck-ups that bought into the White House charge that CBS was simply trying to harm G.W. Bush’s 2004 election. No doubt, CBS botched the report, but the behind-the-scene view of the situation is fascinating.

Behind the firings at CBS

An independent investigation reveals that the team that produced the Bush National Guard story made shocking, rudimentary mistakes.

By Eric Boehlert


“The greater Machiavellian theory from last September was that somehow Karl Rove, or another Republican operative, planted the documents in the first place, getting them to Burkett who passed them along, thinking they were real. Very early in the process, Mapes mentioned to a couple of people that she was concerned that the memos might have been planted by Republicans. But she soon overcame her reservations. Burkett refused to answer the panel’s questions in much detail, so questions still persist about the memos. He did eventually confess to CBS executives that the memos had not come from an old Texas Guard colleague but from a woman who had contacted him and arranged for an unknown man to deliver the Killian memos to Burkett at a Houston livestock show last March. Unfortunately for CBS, it didn’t learn about that plot twist until a week after its Guard story had aired.”

Investigating the Investigators

What the authors of the report on CBS News don’t understand about journalism.

By Jack Shafer (http://www.slate.com/id/2112154/)

“Evidence of the reviewers’ cluelessness comes when the panel assesses the CBS journalists for political bias and discovers none. I don’t know that I’ve met more than four or five investigative journalists in my life who didn’t wear their political biases on their flapping tongues. Almost to a one, they’re suspicious (paranoid?) about corporate power, dubious about the intentions of governments, and convinced that at this very moment a secret meeting is being held somewhere in which a hateful conspiracy against the masses is being hatched. I won’t provoke the investigative-journalist union by alleging that most of its members are Democrats or lefties, but aside from a few right-wing reporters sucking conservative teats inside the government, how many Republican investigative aces can you name?

Far from being a handicap, political bias appears to be a necessity for the investigative reporter. On one level, you’ve got to admire Mapes for rejecting all the mounds of evidence assembled by hundreds of other reporters who tried and failed to conclusively prove that Bush got a special service deal. For all Mapes’ faults — and the panel documents her failings by the bushel — the panel still found that her colleagues “highly” regarded her. (One worries about the “lowly” regarded producers at CBS News.)”

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