Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A Failure of Command 
This is from ABC News:

Two of the document experts hired by CBS News now say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast of 60 Minutes II about the disputed National Guard records attributed to Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.
Emily Will, a veteran document examiner from North Carolina, told ABC News she saw problems right away with the one document CBS hired her to check the weekend before the broadcast.

"I found five significant differences in the questioned handwriting, and I found problems with the printing itself as to whether it could have been produced by a typewriter," she said.

Will says she sent the CBS producer an e-mail message about her concerns and strongly urged the network the night before the broadcast not to use the documents.

"I told them that all the questions I was asking them on Tuesday night, they were going to be asked by hundreds of other document examiners on Thursday if they ran that story," Will said.

But the documents became a key part of the 60 Minutes II broadcast questioning President Bush's National Guard service in 1972. CBS made no mention that any expert disputed the authenticity.

"I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply," Will told ABC News.

So the worst is true, after all. The producers were warned by an expert, but the story was too good to check out.

That's bad enough. But the CBS producers then conspired--CONSPIRED--to withhold this relevant information--that at least two of their own experts had serious questions about the documents--from their viewers, in order to protect their own sorry hides.

Where is the culture of verification? Where is the commitment to accuracy?

What kind of newsroom culture have they created wherein that's acceptable?

What kind of newsroom culture have they created wherein that's even concieveable?

It is a failure of leadership. A failure of command.

Mr. Hewitt, and Mr. Rather, please resign your posts.

Splash, out


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