January 11, 2005
TO : All CBS News Colleagues
The panel report is part of a process – a necessary process to deal with a difficult issue – at the end of which four good people have lost their jobs. My strongest reaction is one of sadness and concern for those individuals whom I know and with whom I have worked. It would be a shame if we let this matter, troubling as it is, obscure their dedication and good work over the years.
Yet good can come from this process if CBS News, and the hundreds of able professionals who labor every day to fill an essential public service in an open society, emerge with a renewed dedication to journalism of the highest quality. We should take seriously the admonition of the report’s authors to do our job well and carefully, but also their parallel admonition not to be afraid to cover important and controversial issues.
CBS News is a great institution with a distinct and precious legacy. I have been here through good times, and not so good times. I have seen us overcome adversity before. I am convinced we can do so again. That must be our focus and priority. And we can fulfill that objective by getting back to business and doing our jobs better than ever.
Lest anyone have any doubt, I have read the report, I take it seriously, and I shall keep its lessons well in mind.
Lame, Lame, LAME. I am amazed he didn’t sign off with the word, “Courage!”
Once upon a time Dan Rather was a hungry reporter with a sense of what it meant to hold the public trust. Now, he’s just an empty $3,000.00 suit. Time to retire.
UPDATE II: For those among you who are still falling for the “the documents were accurate, the report said so,” mantra, Captain Ed links you to Jonathan Last’s piece, It’s Worse Than You Thought. Briefly:
On September 12, 2004, Newcomer, one of the fathers of modern electronic typesetting, published a 7,000 word essay about the fraudulent documents used by CBS. Newcomer’s conclusion was simple and unequivocal. “These documents,” he said after much explanation, “are modern forgeries.” So why did the Thornburgh-Boccardi panel turn their back on Newcomer and the rest of the body of expert opinion? What caused them to suspect that the documents might indeed be authentic?
APPENDIX 4 of the CBS Report details the panel’s lone inquiry into the technical aspects of the questionable memos using the services of Peter Tytell. The report gives nearly a full page of Tytell’s impressive qualifications, the most charming of which is that he was once referred to as a “famous typewriter detective” by CBS’s own Andy Rooney. …
I won’t spoil your fun. Go read it.