Monday, January 10, 2005

The Rathergate Report is Out


Thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Stones Cry Out, I see that the report on Rathergate and the forged "60 Minutes" memos is out. Read it here.

Warning: It's 224 pages long!

Good news: The "Executive Summary" is on page 4 and will give you the report's basic conclusions.

Unsurprising, but gratifying news: At first glance, the report seems to be devastating. A very brief excerpt:

The stated goal of CBS News is to have a reputation for journalism of the highest quality and unimpeachable integrity. To meet this objective, CBS News expects its personnel to adhere to published internal standards based on two core principles: accuracy and fairness. The Panel finds that both the September 8 segment itself and news reports by CBS News that followed the Segment failed to meet either of these core principles.

It gets better:

These problems were caused primarily by a myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a news story about President Bush's [Texas Air National Guard] service, and the rigid and blind defense of the Segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings.

A little realism: I actually have to go to work. More on this later. I have a hunch that blogs like Power Line and Hugh Hewitt will be all over this today. Visit their sites. Rick Brady's brief analysis in Stones Cry Out is worth reading (everything on that blog is worth reading) and will give you a taste of comments to come.

UPDATE, 2:00 p.m. Pacific: John Hinderaker of Power Line has now read the entire CBS report. (I've been checking his blog all day.) Find his summary of what the reports says and does not say here.

UPDATE: Hugh thinks the report is a whitewash. I tend to disagree, but I haen't read much of the report yet. What Hugh wants is a finding that there was a political motivation. I do not know how such a finding could be made by a review body like the one in place here. The findings that they did make seem devastating enough. Let's not lose credibility on the right by demanding a pound of flesh.

UPDATE 2: CBS itself reports that "Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush’s National Guard service." The four are a senior vice president of CBS News, the Executive Producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday" and his deputy, and Mary Mapes, the producer of the Bush National Guard segment. Dan Rather stepped down as anchor of the CBS Evening News, a decision that he wants everyone to believe was unrelated to the scandal. “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,” said CBS President Leslie Moonves.

The CBS report seems to explain why the "buck" stopped at the senior vice president level and did not extend to the President of CBS News, Andrew Heyward:

The panel believes a turning point came on Sept. 10, when CBS News President Andrew Heyward ordered Betsy West to review the opinions of document examiners who had seen the disputed documents and the confidential sources supporting the story.

But no such investigation was undertaken.

"Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that 60 Minutes Wednesday would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days," the report said.

I am wondering why Heyward did not follow up and make sure West did the review immediately, especially on a matter that was as intensely controversial as this one, in the final weeks of a presidential election campaign. Otherwise, I am not seeing much whitewash here. Sorry, Hugh!

Roger Simon may agree with me. We'll see how this all plays out as the blogosphere and the punditrocracy dissect the report.

UPDATE: Roger Simon does not agree with me. Look here. I am beginning to wonder if I still agree with myself.

The Instapundit has some good links. He agrees with Hugh that it's obvious that there was a political motivation and that the report "pulled some punches" in that regard. I'm open-minded. Again, we'll see.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A coverup. The "execs" are far from the top! Rather not fired. CYA is what it is. 

Posted by Rod Stanton

Monday, January 10, 2005 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to sound like a "prag," Rod, but I think to expect Rather to be fired is a little unrealistic. (Not that I would be unhappy to see that happen.) And there appears to be a plausible basis for stopping at the senior vice president level, because Andrew Heyward did order a review of the matter. Did he ever follow up? Looks like he didn't. If not, then we need to know more about why not. 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Monday, January 10, 2005 12:03:00 PM  

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