My Favorite CBS Panel Quote

From the report by the panel:

While the focus of the panel's investigation at the outset was on the Killian documents, the investigation quickly identified considerable and fundamental deficiencies relating to the reporting and production of the Sept. 8 segment and the statements and news reports during the aftermath. These problems were caused primarily by a myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a new story about President Bush's TexANG service, and the rigid and blind defense of the segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings.
The most serious defects in the reporting and production of the Sept. 8 segment were:
  1. The failure to obtain clear authentication of any of the Killian documents from any document examiner;
  2. The false statement in the Sept. 8 segment that an expert had authenticated the Killian documents when all he had done was authenticate one signature from one document used in the segment;
  3. The failure of “60 Minutes Wednesday” management to scrutinize the publicly available, and at times controversial, background of the source of the documents, [Lt. Col. Burkett];
  4. The failure to find and interview the individual who was understood at the outset to be Lt. Col. Burkett's source of the Killian documents, and thus to establish the chain of custody;
  5. The failure to establish a basis for the statement in the segment that the documents “were taken from Col. Killian's personal files”;
  6. The failure to develop adequate corroboration to support the statements in the Killian documents and to carefully compare the Killian documents to official TexANG records;
  7. The failure to interview a range of former National Guardsmen who served with Lieutenant Colonel Killian and who had different perspectives about the documents;
  8. The misleading impression conveyed in the segment that Lt. Strong had authenticated the content of the documents when he did not have the personal knowledge to do so;
  9. The failure to have a vetting process capable of dealing effectively with the production speed, significance and sensitivity of the Segment; and
  10. The telephone call prior to the segment's airing by the producer of the Segment to a senior campaign official of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry—a clear conflict of interest—that created the appearance of a political bias.

So, while it doesn't allege that there was political bias, it does indicate that CBS employees should have made the effort not to appear biased in their reporting. If there's anything Bernard Goldberg should be more proud of, I can't think of it. His books Bias and Arrogance were all about the new media's inability to recognize that bias, or at least the appearance of it, was turning viewers off.

As James Taranto noted in today's OpinionJournal, they went so far as to even mention bias beyond the segment:

In fact, USA TODAY on September 9 published a similar story relying on the same Killian documents, but has not been as criticized for its story as CBS News has been for the September 8 Segment. The Panel recognizes that some will see this widespread media attention not as evidence that 60 Minutes Wednesday was not motivated by bias but instead proof that all of mainstream media has a liberal bias. That is a perception beyond the Panel's assignment.

They might not have had a mandate to look into it, but I'm sure the blogosphere, and maybe even CBS, will. links:

Josh Poulson

Posted Monday, Jan 10 2005 01:14 PM

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