DON’T TRUST CONTENT FROM SIXTY MINUTES: Reader Gail Keasling sends this link to the abstract of a Washington Post report from April 13, 1999, about CBS presenting a story involving fake documents and phony witnesses. I looked up the whole thing, and here’s a bit more:
For the second time in four months, CBS’s “60 Minutes” has made an on-air apology regarding a report about drug smuggling. This time it’s over a memo that turned out to be bogus.
Correspondent Lesley Stahl delivered the apology on Sunday’s broadcast, as part of a settlement with a customs official who had sued the newsmagazine.
In December, “60 Minutes” founder Don Hewitt apologized on-air for a June 1, 1997, story based on a British documentary about smugglers who swallowed heroin in latex gloves to get past authorities. An investigative panel later determined that the documentary producers had faked locations and paid actors to portray drug couriers.
In Sunday’s apology, Stahl emphasized that the April 20, 1997, segment accurately reported on the flow of illegal drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border at San Diego.
But that report, which was presented by Mike Wallace, cited a memo said to be written by Rudy Camacho, the San Diego district director of the Customs Service, calling for customs agents to quickly process trucks owned by a company linked to Mexican drug cartels.
The Customs Service in Washington investigated and found the memo to be fake, and that no preferential treatment was offered, Stahl said. “60 Minutes” had already reported in February 1998 that the memo was declared bogus. But Camacho sued; the on-air apology was part of an “amicable settlement” between him and CBS News, a “60 Minutes” spokesman said.
“We have concluded that we were deceived, and ultimately so were you, our viewers,” Stahl said. “Under the circumstances, we regret that any reference to that memo or to Mr. Camacho’s connection with it was included in our original report and apologize for any harm to Mr. Camacho’s professional reputation and any distress caused to him and his family.”
So how come the apology wasn’t given by Wallace? The “60 Minutes” rep says Wallace was in California last Thursday and Friday on a story.
I guess Dan Rather’s behavior is in character, then.