CBS rolls right along
In Damage control at Black Rock, Tony Blankley notices,
The two greatest dangers to CBS coming out of the Sept. 8 broadcast were that it would be found that they: 1) knowingly broadcast fraudulent Defense Department documents, and 2) were motivated to do so because they are biased against George Bush and the Republican Party.
And it was on those two vital points that the Thornburgh Report failed to come to a conclusion. The Report’s concession of bad journalism merely conceded the undeniable. That fact had been apparent to most of the public and virtually all of the major news outlets by about Sept. 10. Conceding bad journalism was merely a belated bow to undeniable reality. They couldn’t possibly have conceded less than they did.
But the “Independent Panel” provided one more service to CBS. It showed the report to CBS executives before it released it to the public. Thus CBS was given a public relations crises management expert’s dream — the extraordinarily valuable opportunity of simultaneously announcing the report’s findings and CBS’s corporate response to the findings — which was to fire or ask for the resignation of key executives and producers below Dan Rather.
Thus there was no headline this week stating that CBS admits documents were a fraud or caused by partisan bias Instead, the headlines in papers as diverse as The New York Times, The Washington Times and The Washington Post were all the same: CBS fires 4. That headline was followed by the finding that CBS’s journalistic standards had been deficient. As they say — that’s old news.
The crisis has been defused. The damage has been limited. Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP have earned every last penny of the undoubtedly huge legal/PR bill that is now, presumably, in the mail to CBS.
Independent report, yeah, right.