WRAL: Which way is the wind blowing?

Having sent an email to WRAL, a local cBS affilliate here in Raleigh, regarding their stance on Rathergate, this is their response:

Dear Pajama Blogger,

First, thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding the CBS News story about President Bush’s military record.

To say the least, like you we are very concerned about the controversy surrounding the memos used as the basis for their story. Letters and emails of concern like yours have been flooding WRAL as I am sure the rest of the affiliate stations across the country. CBS is feeling the heat. There are now calls for congressional hearings and people are turning away from watching Dan Rather. That reaction is sending a very powerful message to CBS.

Below is the latest industry story regarding this CBS story.

CBS Stands By Story, Investigates Criticisms

By John Eggerton — Broadcasting & Cable, 9/15/2004 7:39:00 PM

CBS continued to defend its story questioning President George W. Bush’s National Guard service Wednesday night amid growing criticism that the story was based, in part, on bogus documents.

In a release to the press, the network said two of the four document experts it consulted had since “misrepresented their conversations and communication with CBS News,” while two others stood by their assessments. Still, CBS said, “for now, the disagreements among ‘dueling experts’ have not been resolved.”

CBS said it had obtained six memos from the personnel files of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian from a source with “access to the documents he provided [seeming to suggest the source was a man] and an opportunity to obtain copies of them.” CBS continued to protect him, however, saying it does not reveal confidential sources.

The network featured an interview with Marion Carr Knox on 60 Minutes Wednesday night in which the 86-year-old former secretary to Killian said she did not believe the documents were genuine, but that the sentiments they expressed were.

“In light of the questions about that original 60 Minutes Wednesday report,” the network said, “CBS News states that it will redouble its efforts to continue reporting aggressively on all aspects of the story in an effort to resolve those questions.”

CBS News President Andrew Heyward said the network would not have run the story if it hadn’t vetted it thoroughly, but he also pledged to “redouble our efforts” to answer the network’s critics.

As for WRAL-TV News, which, as you noted, is locally owned and operated by Capitol Broadcasting Company of Raleigh, we will continue to provide the most accurate and unbiased local news to our viewers.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. Please make sure your thoughts are heard at CBS News.


Chuck deCourt

Station Manager

Looks like WRAL is either standing by the fraudulent story, or playing the percentages that they will not get caught in the backblast. I actually was expecting more of a stance against any sort of fraudulent broadcasts/stories from cBS main. I wonder what the overall ratings for cBS will be for last week, not just the Evening News and 60 Minutes.

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