|An investigation concluded that producer Mary Mapes 'presented half-truths' to other CBS journalists.
A second executive, Josh Howard, the executive producer of the show, was also asked to resign from CBS News along with a senior vice president, Betsy West, who supervised CBS News prime-time programs, and a senior broadcast producer, Mary Murphy.
Leslie Moonves, Viacom's co-president and CBS chairman-CEO, issued a statement saying he deeply regretted the "disservice this flawed 60 Minutes Wednesday did to the American public, which has a right to count on CBS News for fairness and accuracy in all it does."
The controversial report was anchored by Dan Rather, who apologized for the segment that aired in the midst of a hotly contested presidential election. (Mr. Rather announced Nov. 23 he would step down from the nightly anchor's desk at CBS Evening News this spring.)
Today's resignations comes in response to a report by an independent review panel, hired by CBS, comprising of Dick Thornburgh, a former U.S. Attorney General, and Louis Boccardi, retired president-CEO of The Associated Press. The men supervised an analysis of what went wrong with the segment after serious questions were raised about the authenticity of the documents involved.
The internal investigation lasted for three months and involved the input of 66 people, half of them with CBS News.
The results of the 224-page review were made public today on the CBS News Web site alongside a response from Mr. Moonves.
Mr. Moonves said the "most troubling are the panel's findings regarding Mary Mapes' ongoing contention, later proven to be false, that the documents used in the story were authenticated and had been obtained from a 'rock-solid' source who had established, in retrospect, a questionable chain of custody for them. The panel also found that Mapes presented half-truths as facts to those with whom she worked."
Vetting processes failed
Mr. Moonves admitted that CBS News' vetting processes had also failed to work. The role of the news division chief, Andrew Heyward, was also criticized, though he is remaining in his role.
The panel made four major recommendations:
- The naming of a "standards and practices" executive who reports directly to the news president to review all investigative reporting and use of confidential sources and to authenticate documents.
- Efforts to better foster an environment that minimized competitive pressures to air reports before all the proper vetting is completed
- Internal disclosure of the names of confidential sources and all relevant background to senior CBS managers
- The appointment of a separate team, led by someone not involved in the original reporting, to look into any news report that is challenged.
Mr. Moonves said has created the position of senior vice president of standards and practices, appointing Linda Mason to the role. Ms. Mason is vice president of public affairs and executive producer of CBS Reports.
CBS News will also implement a number of other changes based on the panel's recommendations. They include having CBS News executives work more closely with CBS Communications and to have correspondents participate in preparation and vetting of stories.