CBS and the Bush National Guard memos

The report cited memos written by Bush’s superior officers showing that Bush has received favorable treatment both in getting into the Guard and during his service there.

The story aired on Sept. 8, 2004, on CBS’s 60 Minutes Wednesday just as the presidential campaign was getting intense; it had originally been scheduled to air on Sept. 29. Soon after the show, many people called into question the authenticity of the memos CBS reporters used as the basis for the story.

Initially, CBS and Dan Rather, who reported the segment, defended the story, but they eventually had to back down because the memos had not been properly investigated. CBS suffered a storm of criticism and launched its own internal investigation. The report of that investigation was released this week, and five people from CBS News were fired. (Rather was not one of them.) The report did not clear up the questions about the authenticity of the memos; nor did it specify who at CBS News made the decision to move the broadcast up by three weeks. A good collection of articles  and commentary about this controversy can be found at Journalism.org.
A note on format. CBS News put the report on its web site in a PDF format rather than simply having it in HTML. Consequently, if you wanted to look at the 200-plus page document, you had to download the whole thing onto your computer and then either print it out or try to search through it in Acrobat. Either way, it did not make things easy for the reader.

(Posted Jan. 15, 2005)

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Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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