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    Monday, October 04, 2004

    Another CBS affiliate response on RatherGate


    For what it's worth...A CBS affiliate in San Diego put me on their autorespond list after I emailed them automatically using the affiliate group mail deal. It sounds like they are getting the message. It could be better, but they do say some strong things. It's pretty long. I realize they've got to be kind to their CBS parents. But it shows they are feeling some pressure, and they hope we calm down. Here it is:

    Dear Viewer,

    Thanks for your recent letter about the controversy surrounding CBS News,
    and their reporting on President Bush's National Guard service.

    It is a difficult situation for us at here at Local 8 News. We have been a
    CBS affiliate for more than 50 years, and we are proud of that affiliation.
    But, while we are affiliated with CBS, we are not owned by them. They
    provide us with programming, everything from CSI to The CBS Evening News.
    We provide them with local news video when they need it. We do not have any
    say in CBS News policy or story selection, nor do they have any say in our
    local news decisions.

    Our President & General Manager has called our contacts at CBS to express
    our concern about the handling of the story. In addition, Local 8 News has
    reported both the charges that the documents Mr. Rather used are forged, and
    CBS News' response to the charges.

    I should also point out that Local 8 is the news department for our sister
    station KFMB 760 AM radio. The controversy has been thoroughly covered
    there by talk show hosts Rick Roberts, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and
    Michael Savage.

    As you know, CBS News now admits that they cannot prove the documents are
    accurate, and they have apologized for their lack of judgment. For the
    record, here are the statements issued by CBS News President Andrew Heyward,
    and anchor Dan Rather yesterday:

    Statement from Andrew Heyward, President of CBS News

    "60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY had full confidence in the original report or it would
    not have aired. However, in the wake of serious and disturbing questions
    that came up after the broadcast, CBS News has done extensive additional
    reporting in an effort to confirm the documents' authenticity. That
    included an interview featured on last week's edition of 60 MINUTES
    WEDNESDAY (15) with Marian Carr Knox, secretary to the late Lt. Col. Jerry
    Killian, the officer named as the author of the documents; the interview
    with Bill Burkett to be seen tonight (20); and a further review of the
    forensic evidence on both sides of the debate. Based on what we now know,
    CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only
    acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We
    should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret.
    Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with
    the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and
    independent reporting. We will continue to work tirelessly to be worthy of
    that trust.

    CBS News and CBS management are commissioning an independent review of the
    process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine
    what actions need to be taken. The names of the people conducting the
    review will be announced shortly, and their findings will be made public."

    Statement from CBS Anchor Dan Rather

    "Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents
    used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time
    in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents
    in question-and their source-vigorously. And we promised that we would let
    the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the
    outcome.

    Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence
    in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them
    journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our
    source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That,
    combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in
    the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would
    not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would
    not have used the documents in question.

    But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I
    am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the
    spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting
    without fear or favoritism.

    Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our
    ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully."

    If you wish to express your concerns directly to CBS, you can use the
    following e-mail addresses: Audience services at audsvcs@cbs.com, or 60
    Minutes Weeknight viewers at 60II@cbsnews.com.

    In the meantime, Local 8 News will continue to report on both sides of the
    controversy on radio, TV and web until it is resolved, and we will pass your
    concerns on to CBS. Thanks again for writing and letting us know how you
    feel.

    Fred D'Ambrosi
    News Director
    KFMB Stations
    7677 Engineer Road
    San Diego, CA 92111
    858-***-****



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