CBS has named Former U.S. attorney general Governor Dick Thornburgh and retired AP President Louis Boccardi to review its 60 Minutes piece on disputed National Guard documents relating to President Bush.
CBS has admitted to a number of missteps in its reporting, including failing to sufficiently vet the documents, which now appear to be forgeries. The panel combines the heavyweight Republican resume of Thornburg, who was Attorney General under Presidents Reagan and Bush (George H.W.) with the First Amendment credits of Boccardi.
The two-person panel will begin its investigation this week.
Thornburgh has some experience in invetigating corporate problems. As CBS points out, he was an examiner in the WorldCom bankruptcy proceeding, "to report on wrongdoing and malfeasance that led to the company's downfall," AS CBS put in its release announcing the two-person panel.
Boccardi knows something about the challenges of getting news out fast and accurately, having been with AP for 36 years--18 as president--before retiring in 2003.
He has been a leaading voice for free press issues. That included speaking out at a Congressional hearing in 2001 after news chiefs were upbraided for problems with calling the closest election in history. While most news chiefs took their punishment, Boccardi spoke out against the hearing, saying:
"We believe that such an official government inquiry into essentially editorial matters is inconsistent with the First Amendment values that are fundamental to our society... What we report and when we report it are matters between us and the audience we try to serve, not matters between us and our Congressman."
In fact, California Rep. Chris Cox referred to that hearing and CBS' contrite promises not to let haste overtake accuracy in calling for a congressional investigation of CBS.