Senior Vice President Betsy West, 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard and Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy were asked to resign. Mary Mapes, the segment's producer, was fired.
The action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with a “rigid and blind” defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.
The panel said a "myopic zeal" to be the first news organization to broadcast a groundbreaking story about Mr. Bush’s National Guard service was a key factor in explaining why CBS News had produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet the organization’s internal standards.
“The panel finds that once serious questions were raised, the defense of the segment became more rigid and emphatic, and that virtually no attempt was made to determine whether the questions raised had merit,” the report concluded.
The panel believes a turning point came on Sept. 10, when CBS News President Andrew Heyward ordered West to review the opinions of document examiners who had seen the disputed documents and the confidential sources supporting the story.
But no such investigation was undertaken at that time.
“Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that 60 Minutes Wednesday would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days,” the report said.