The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 September 2004

And whoever the culprit...

CBS must atone, preferably along the lines recommended by Beldar:

Dan Rather and everyone else at CBS News who had direct managerial authority over, and supervisory involvement in, the production of last Wednesday night's 60 Minutes II broadcast about the Killian memos must be fired. Not retired. Not pensioned off. Not allowed to resign. Not given 30 days' or even three days' notice.

They must be fired — instantly, effective immediately, "for cause" and "with prejudice," forfeiting all unvested future benefits from their employment. They should be escorted by security personnel from the building, with their belongings sent to them in due course after they've been screened for relevant evidence. All of their computers, files, and other items of potential evidentiary value must be segregated immediately and secured under lock and key with a tight and explicit chain of custody. There must be no spoliation of evidence permitted.

This must be done publicly — before the close of business on Wednesday, September 15, 2004, and preferably before noon.

If it's not, then the executives who failed to do the firings should be fired before the close of business on Thursday, September 16, 2004.

This is not, I point out, due to any particular animus toward CBS: this is the absolute minimum CBS must do to retain even a shred of credibility as a provider of news.

And then the investigations will begin:

If Dan Rather is still an employee of CBS News by next Monday, then the appropriate committees of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate should convene public joint investigative hearings immediately, with Dan Rather as their second subpoenaed witness.

The first witness must be an appropriate custodian of records from CBS News, who must be directed to bring every shred of paper, every email, every piece of videotape, every computer file, every outtake, every script, every memorandum of staff meetings — and every bit of advice rendered by inside or outside legal counsel to CBS News prior to the broadcast.

A little bit of history here:

Viacom was spun off from CBS in the early 1970s in response to an FCC ruling prohibiting broadcast and cable ownership in the same market. With one asset to speak of — old CBS reruns available for repackaging — Viacom built itself into a media power, with connections to broadcast through its syndication properties, and ownership of cable networks such as Showtime and MTV (which it acquired from Warner Bros. and American Express). In 1987 Viacom was taken over by Sumner Redstone's National Amusements; in 1999 Viacom bought CBS, its former corporate parent.

Since just about all mass-media firms are assembled from similar components these days, and those components are largely interchangeable — could Sumner Redstone be thinking about unloading CBS right about now?

(Update, 18 September, 6:20 pm: Fusilier Pundit has been contemplating the possibilities of a spinoff of CBS.)

(Update, 19 September, 8:45 pm: Sumner Redstone has sold off 341,500 shares, though I don't know if this was a CBS-related action or if it might have something to do with the pending sell-off of Blockbuster. It is, however, less than 1 percent of his equity in the company.)

Posted at 9:46 AM to Political Science Fiction


TrackBack: 9:46 PM, 15 September 2004
» I remain flabbergasted from Dan and Angi Have Something to Say
I can't say that I don't feel any Schadenfreude for the situation CBS finds itself in. More than anything, though, I'm feeling transfixed in horror at CBS News' slow suicide. There was no "60 Minutes II" tonight on our OKC......[read more]

Crucify him...with extreme prejudice!
where this rogue resides, salt the earth, blacken the flora/fauna and present excreta while clucking over the deed.

Posted by: paulsmos at 10:52 AM on 15 September 2004