Monday, January 10, 2005

Myopic Zeal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CBS News fired four employees on Monday after an independent report critical of legendary anchor Dan Rather found a "myopic zeal" led the network to disregard basic journalism principles when it aired a faulty story on President Bush's military service record.

The panel was convened after a Sept. 8, 2004, report by Rather on the "60 Minutes II" news program claiming Bush won special treatment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. It found CBS failed to determine the accuracy of key documents used in the report.

CBS then waged a "strident" defense rather than probe the heart of the matter, it said. It allowed the same staff who produced the original report to produce follow-ups, it said.

"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 ... and the rigid and blind defense of the segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings," said the panel, headed by former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi, retired head of the Associated Press.

Twelve days after the segment aired, CBS News retracted it and Rather apologized, saying they were duped by bogus documents. Rather, 73, later said he would step down as anchor on March 9, his 24th anniversary in the job.
Must suck to work for CBS right about now.

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