Some heads are final…
Some heads are finally rolling at CBS over their fake memos.

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 action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with a “rigid and blind” defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.

Asked to resign were Senior Vice President Betsy West, who supervised CBS News primetime programs; 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard; and Howard’s deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy. The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was terminated.

Dan should’ve been fired for it as well. The (CBS) article on this does mention him a bit, but it makes it sound like he’s leaving as a result of this.

The correspondent on the story, CBS News anchor Dan Rather, is stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News.

Rather’s leaving has never been tied to the fake memo story. It was just sold as a mutually agreed-upon move for all involved. This line in the story, however, makes it sound like Rather’s departure was because of the fake memo issue. Sounds like a case of trying to garner sympathy after the fact.

The panel said a “myopic zeal” to be the first news organization to broadcast a groundbreaking story about Mr. Bush’s National Guard service was a key factor in explaining why CBS News had produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet the organization’s internal standards.

Emphasis mine. Can we now put to bed the whole “fake but accurate” line of reasoning by some who so desperately tried to come to the aid of Dan? They weren’t accurate.

The report said at least four factors that some observers described as a journalistic “Perfect Storm” had contributed to the decision to broadcast a piece that was seriously flawed.

“The combination of a new 60 Minutes Wednesday management team, great deference given to a highly respected producer and the network’s news anchor, competitive pressures, and a zealous belief in the truth of the segment seem to have led many to disregard some fundamental journalistic principles,” the report said.

That last reason really says a lot, and it underscores the problem when you have a newsroom where 90+% of the crew is of one mindset. Having so zealous a belief in the truth of something you’ve done little to confirm can only come from pre-conceived notions of what you think the truth is. The assumptions were already in place due to an entrenched liberal groupthink. What this demonstrates is that what CBS and others like it consider “fair and balanced” is hiding their assumptions as best they can. It has little to do with any supposed “objectivity”. It’s just that they got cocky, lazy, or some combination, and they got caught this time. How many times have they gotten away with it?

Given that, this line is a bunch of hooey.

While the panel found that some actions taken by CBS News encouraged such suspicions, “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.”

As I said, if they had a zealous belief in something they hadn’t done due diligence on, that can only have come from entrenched assumptions. While it may not have been an official, stated agenda by the network, signed off on by everyone involved, the effect is the same.

The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was also faulted for calling Joe Lockhart, a senior official in the John Kerry campaign, prior to the airing of the piece, and offering to put Burkett in touch with him. The panel called Mapes’ action a “clear conflict of interest that created the appearance of political bias.”

Everything about this created the appearance of political bias! It walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but this report is calling it a pomegranate! It’s like those lawsuits that corporations settle for millions of dollars but don’t take any of the blame. This just doesn’t fly with me.

Here’s some more of that zealousness in action:

After rushing the piece to air, the panel said, CBS News compounded the error by blindly defending the story. In doing so, the news organization missed opportunities to set the record straight.

“The panel finds that once serious questions were raised, the defense of the segment became more rigid and emphatic, and that virtually no attempt was made to determine whether the questions raised had merit,” the report concluded.

Why set the record straight in the second place if there was no real desire to do it in the first place? That’s an agenda, official or not. >quack< And here’s more:

The panel believes a turning point came on Sept. 10, when CBS News President Andrew Heyward ordered 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 at that time.

“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.

Foot-dragging on a direct order from the President of CBS News betrays still more agenda-drive action (or inaction). It’s still a duck. >quack<

It’s truly amazing how easy CBS News is let off in this. It’s as though this one “news” story was a very selective black hole, sucking in just those specific individuals in the news room who were incredibly zealous enough to ignore all standards of good journalism, but suggesting that politics didn’t play a role at all. >quack< At least some of the right people were held responsible for their actions and the report also puts out some ideas to keep this from happening in the future. But a senior VP, and executive producer, and a senior broadcast producer were all a part of this, including the story producer. I really don’t believe that just those folks are the overzealous ones. I think a lot more has to change at CBS, both in mindset and in personnel, before it can be trusted with news again. And I wonder how the other major network news organizations compare to this, given the same mindset in their offices.

Oh yeah…that liberal media. >quack<

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