As challenges to a Sept. 8 CBS News report built up to yesterday’s apology by anchor Dan Rather, local TV affiliates around the nation already were distancing themselves from the network.
Television stations in North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina are among the many that have separated themselves from CBS’ actions in their correspondence with viewers. And radio stations KPRC in Houston and WKRC in Cincinnati have replaced their afternoon CBS News feed with Dan Rather.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Rather and CBS News President Andrew Heyward issued statements yesterday saying they no longer will defend the authenticity of documents used in a “60 Minutes II” report that raised questions about President Bush’s National Guard service.
According to National Review’s the Kerry Spot, which helped uncover the CBS document story along with other weblogs, station managers are agreeing with their disgruntled viewers.
North Carolina CBS affiliate: “We certainly aren’t happy with the way CBS News has handled this mess and have informed them of our displeasure. I will make sure your note is placed in the proper hands.”
Oklahoma: “Like you, I am distressed with the forged-documents issue involving CBS. I appreciate receiving your feedback — it is helpful to have when I visit with my network affiliate rep about local reaction in my market.”
Another in Oklahoma: “Thanks for your comments regarding CBS and their 60 Minutes report. I will pass your comments on to the network just as we have with the thousands of others. Thanks for watching.”
South Carolina: “Like you, we’re concerned about the authenticity of the documents in question. Obviously, if CBS was duped, they’ll have to change the checks and balances that we thought were in place and working along with reporting those facts to their viewers. I’ve taken the liberty of passing along your comments directly to CBS.”
In New Mexico, according to the Kerry Spot, a station manager at a CBS affiliate in New Mexico speculated to a viewer about Dan Rather’s retirement:
“Couldn’t agree more. I think there will be significant consequences before this is behind us, including the possibility of Dan’s retirement. You know, I think he really does care about the truth, the country, etc. But he just let his personal politics cloud his news judgment. It’s a lesson for everyone in the news business, and I give you my word that we at [this station] are properly cautioned.”
Indiana: “I am sorry to hear that you are associating the integrity of CBS News with [our affiliate]. I assure you, this is not the case. We understand that several people at CBS News are responsible for poor decisions and questionable journalistic practices in regards to the memos (CBS is having a press conference today with an apology). However, [our station] never reported this story as fact. We did follow the story due to the questionable background of the memos. But we remained impartial due to the fact that we personally had no way of proving anything true or false. We are a CBS affiliate. One poor decision, albeit a very large one, does not negate this, and we will continue to be a CBS affiliate. I am sorry to say that you will be watching less of the local news, as I do not feel that this warrants that action.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, for more than 11 days, CBS News stood by its claims in the face of widespread accusations that early 1970s documents used on a Sept. 8 “60 Minutes II” segment to discredit Bush are forgeries, created with a modern word-processing program.
Among the assertions the news program derived from the documents – four memos by Bush’s late squadron commander Col. Jerry Killian – were that the commander was pressed to “sugar coat” a performance evaluation for Bush and that the future president did not follow an order to report for a physical.
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