The Honorable Dick Thornburgh and Louis D. Boccardi to comprise independent review panel examining CBS News 60 Minutes Wednesday Report.
The Honorable Dick Thornburgh, former governor of Pennsylvania and United States attorney general under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and Louis D. Boccardi, retired president and chief executive officer of the Associated Press, will comprise the independent review panel that will examine the process by which a recent 60 MINUTES Wednesday report was prepared and broadcast.
The Sept. 8 broadcast reported that President George W. Bush had received favorable treatment to enter the Texas Air National Guard and had not fulfilled all of the Guard's requirements. CBS News acknowledged this week that it cannot prove the authenticity of disputed memos featured in the report and that, therefore, it was a mistake to use them.
Two days ago, CBS News and CBS announced the commissioning of an independent review to help determine what errors occurred in the preparation of the report and what actions need to be taken. The two-person review panel will commence its work this week and will have full access and complete cooperation from CBS News and CBS, as well as all of the resources necessary to complete the task. The panel will report its findings to CBS News and CBS. The findings also will be made public.
Thornburgh was elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1978 and served two successive terms in that office. He was attorney general of the United States for three years in the cabinets of Presidents Reagan and Bush (1988-1991). All told, Thornburgh served in the Justice Department under five presidents, including as U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh (1969-75) and Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division (1975-77). Under his direction, the Department of Justice obtained a record number of convictions of savings and loan and securities officials, defense contractors and corrupt public officials. In August 2002, Thornburgh was appointed Examiner in the WorldCom bankruptcy proceedings, the largest ever filed, to report on wrongdoing and malfeasance that led to the company's downfall. He also served as Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations (1992-93) and as a consultant to the U.N. and the World Bank on efforts to battle fraud and corruption. Thornburgh is counsel to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP, which will assist in the independent investigation.
Boccardi retired from the Associated Press in 2003 as president and chief executive officer after a 36-year career there, including the last 18 years in that position and 10 years as executive editor. He oversaw the launching of APTN, the world's largest video news service, and the creation of The WIRE, AP's multimedia internet site. Boccardi has also taken a leading role within the news industry on critical First Amendment and freedom of the press issues, as well as challenges to credibility and readership. In 1990, he was elected a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, the highest honor awarded by the organization to journalists, and a Distinguished Service Member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Boccardi is also the recipient of the William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit and the Overseas Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a retired member and former chairman of the Pulitzer Prize board.
WTVY News 4 recognizes that you may have a concern about the authenticity of documents that were used in preparing a story recently reported by Dan Rather on President Bush’s service in the National Guard. Although our influence on the networks news gathering and reporting is minimal, we have been and will continue to provide the network with any and all feedback that we receive from our viewers on this issue.
Our relationship with the network is that of a program supplier, however, we do expect that the network’s news division use all diligence in confirming the accuracy of what they report over our air.
Should you wish to provide feedback to us regarding this issue, please feel free to do so. I will promptly forward your comments on to the network for their review. Your comments should be sent to me here at the TV station:
P.O. Box 1089
Dothan, AL. 36302
Or they can be e-mailed to me at:
Please note the following two statements issued by the News Division and Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News and 60 MINUTES Correspondent, Dan Rather September 20th
STATEMENT FROM THE CBS NEWS DIVISION
MAN WHO GAVE CBS NEWS DISPUTED DOCUMENTS DESCRIBES HOW HE OBTAINED THEM; IN TELEVISION INTERVIEW, HE ADMITS HE DELIBERATELY MISLED CBS NEWS PRODUCER.
CBS NEWS ACKNOWLEDGES THAT, BASED ON SUBSEQUENT REPORTING ON QUESTIONS ABOUT DOCUMENTS, IT CANNOT PROVE THEY ARE AUTHENTIC AND, THEREFORE, THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN USED IN THE "60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY" REPORT.
CBS NEWS AND CBS MANAGEMENT ARE COMMISSIONING AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW.
Bill Burkett, in a weekend interview with CBS News Anchor and Correspondent Dan Rather, has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents used in the Sept. 8th “60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY” report on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Burkett, a retired National Guard lieutenant colonel, also admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents' origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source. Burkett originally said he obtained the documents from another former Guardsman. Now he says he got them from a different source whose connection to the documents and identity CBS News has been unable to verify to this point. Burkett's interview will be featured in a full report on tonight's (September 20th) CBS EVENING NEWS WITH DAN RATHER (6:30-7:00 PM, ET/PT).
In light of this and other developments reported by CBS News and other news organizations, CBS News President Andrew Heyward issued the following statement: "60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY had full confidence in the original report or it would not have aired. However, in the wake of serious and disturbing questions that came up after the broadcast, CBS News has done extensive additional reporting in an effort to confirm the documents' authenticity. That included an interview featured on last week's edition of 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY (September 15th) with Marian Carr Knox, secretary to the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, the officer named as the author of the documents; the interview with Bill Burkett to be seen tonight (September 20th); and a further review of the forensic evidence on both sides of the debate. Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret. Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting. We will continue to work tirelessly to be worthy of that trust."
CBS News and CBS management are commissioning an independent review of the process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine what actions need to be taken. The names of the people conducting the review will be announced shortly, and their findings will be made public.
STATEMENT FROM DAN RATHER
Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question-and their source-vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.
Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.
But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.
Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.