Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dan Rather and CBS

On Sept. 8, 2004, Dan Rather reported on 60 Minutes for their Wednesday edition that a series of memos critical of President George Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record had been discovered. The memos were found in the personal offices of Lt. Bush's former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B Killian. The authenticity of these documents quickly gathered suspicion by a small group of conservative bloggers. They initially based their reasoning that the memos were proportionally printed and displayed other modern typographic conventions with limited availability on military typewriters of the time. This led to claims that the memos were forgeries. The accusations then spread over the following days into mainstream media outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Chicago Sun-Times. CBS and Dan rather initially defended the story. The insisted that the documents were authenticated by experts. After contradiction and curiosity, CBS found that the memos had been forged. After the incident, Dan Rather said he was pressured into reporting that their story was incomplete and misleading to the public.
CBS then forced Dan Rather to resign from his current anchor position, which was quickly followed by a suit from Rather. On the petition was Leslie Moonves, chief executive, Viacom's executive chairman, Sumner Redstone and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS. According to SPJ Code of Ethics, journalists should be honest, fair and courageous. They should also seek truth and report it accurately. CBS failed to get proper and accurate sources for their story. Another point on the code of ethics would be having accountability for stories. Dan Rather worked for CBS and was a high profile journalist. After the controversy, he immediately put the blame on the CBS executives. As journalists, we are responsible for our reporting and what we make public to the media.

By: Lauren Bickford and Cassie Delgado

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