CBS News Journalist Sharyl Attkisson Quits; Media Argues Whether She Exited Stage Right

By | Monday March 10, 2014 @ 7:12pm PDT

LisaColumn__131015210634-275x198CBS News investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson resigned Monday after months of ill-concealed unhappiness with the network. It was the denouement of a drama that’s been played out among The Reporters Who Cover Television for some time, with Attkisson as the heroine. But while conservatives cast her as the gutsy reporter who stood up to her network’s Sharyl-Attkissonliberal bias and its deep-sixing of her work on Benghazi and other Obama administration evasions and departs after acrimonious contract talks fell apart, liberals cast her as the mainstream investigative journalist who fell down the agenda-driven reporting rabbit hole. Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich CC’d her network when she retweeted Attkisson’s “I have resigned from CBS,” while New York magazine headlined, “The Right’s Favorite Mainstream Benghazi Reporter Resigns From CBS.” Yeah, it went like that pretty much all day.

Related: ‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi Fallout: Lara Logan, Producer Take Leave Of Absence

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R.I.P. Newsman Mike O’Connor

By | Tuesday December 31, 2013 @ 1:01pm PST

oconnorMike O’Connor, a longtime CBS newsman and advocate for the safety of journalists in Mexico, died Sunday in Mexico City. He was 67. His wife Tracy Wilkerson, Mexico Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times, says O’Connor suffered a fatal … Read More »

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John Miller Leaves CBS News To Rejoin NYPD Commissioner William Bratton

By | Thursday December 26, 2013 @ 3:24pm PST

CBS News correspondent John Miller just announced on WCBS-TV New York that he is going towork for incoming NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.John Miller The two worked together when Bratton was NYPD commissioner in the mid-’90s and again when Bratton was LA’s commissioner, with Miller focused on terrorism preparedness. The news comes just days after some TV-news navel lint pickers scolded Miller over his 60 Minutes report on the NSA — the New York Times cbsnewscalling it “a friendly infomercial for the agency.” Miller is a former FBI official who worked with NSA;  some critics said he should have stayed away from the story because of that. Miller responded to the criticism, to the NYT, saying, “As we constructed it, the NSA was a story about a debate, not a villain, and we added to that debate with important information. I fail to understand how a shrill argument for the sake of creating televised drama would have accomplished anything.” A CBS News rep said today in a statement: “John Miller is a remarkable journalist with deep insight into law enforcement. He has been invaluable to the CBS News family. We wish him well in his quest to help make the City of New York a safer place as part of the NYPD. John will always have a home at CBS News.” Here’s CBS News’ announcement of Miller’s new job, via WCBS:

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Dan Rather: CBS News Should Not Dismiss Lara Logan Over Botched ‘60 Minutes’ Report; Division Still Has “A Lot To Answer For”: Video

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 7:51am PST

Dan Rather mug 2013Lara Logan should not be let go by CBS News over her botched Benghazi report on 60 Minutes, former CBS newsman Dan Rather said in response to a question by CNN’s Piers Morgan. She should be judged by her body of work, said the former network news anchor who got pushed out of the network over a mangled CBS News report with which he was involved, back in 2004. Logan and producer Max McClellan are on a leave of absence over their report, based on now-discredited claims made by security contractor Dylan Davies that he witnessed  the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

Related: ‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi Fallout: Lara Logan, Producer Take Leave Of Absence

“In my opinion, clearly labeled: No,” Rather said Monday night on Morgan’s primetime show.  “Whatever one thinks of what Lara Logan did, or didn’t do, with the story, in fairness it should be put against her whole record. She’s still a very young correspondent, but for a young correspondent she has a distinguished record — it should be seen in that context and that perspective,” said Rather. CBS News, he added, “has a lot to answer for this. There’s a lot of questions, and they’ve answered some of them.”

Logan’s bungling was worse than the mangled 2004 report on President George W. Bush’s National Guard service that famously got him pushed out of the same news organization years ago, Rather suggested.  In that report, documents were cited alleging Bush got preferential treatment during his Texas Air National Guard service in the Vietnam era – documents the news division later said, after investigation, it could not authenticate. Three execs were let go and Rather retired as anchor of the CBS evening newscast, leaving the network entirely in ’06. Read More »

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‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi Fallout: Lara Logan, Producer Take Leave Of Absence

By | Tuesday November 26, 2013 @ 11:07am PST

Lara Logan, the reporter behind 60 Minutes‘ now-discredited story on the Benghazi attacks, has agreed to take a leave of absence from CBS News. Also taking a leave is producer Max McClellan. The move comes after an internal investigation was released today and an announcement to staffers by CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager in a memo obtained by Deadline, and included in this post. Also obtained is the full summary of findings by Al Ortiz, CBS News’ Executive Director of Standards and Practices.

It’s unclear whether the report and Fager’s memo will placate media critics, who were skeptical of the steps CBS was taking, in re the botched 60 Minutes segment, before even knowing the results. Two Sundays ago, media-centric Sunday shows on cable news networks CNN and Fox News Channel, weighed in, and neither show was impressed with the idea of a CBS internal review of the newsmag’s Benzhazi segment, which CBS News had said was reported out for a year, based on bum information given by a now discredited security contractor who’d written a now-discredited book about the incident for CBS’ publishing division. Some of the talking heads on those shows noted CBS News exec producer Al Ortiz will take the now-dlsclosed results of his investigation into the failure of 60 Minutes exec producer Fager to the chairman of CBS News — Fager. “60 Minutes needs to re-report this story and share the results with the public,” advised CBS News alum Terence Smith on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Lara Logan’s day of apologizing “isn’t enough,” chimed in Fox News’ MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz, who also called for an outside investigation, adding his boilerplate “We all make mistakes — myself included.” Contacted for comment, a CBS News rep told Deadline today, “The 60 Minutes journalistic review is concluded, and we are implementing ongoing changes based on its results.”

Logan has won multiple awards including Emmys and is CBS News’ Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent based in DC. She has contributed to 60 Minutes and CBS News since 2002; in 2011, while on assignment in Egypt, she was sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and spent four days in the hospital — then told the story of the attack in a 60 Minutes segment.

Here’s Fager’s memo about the decision:

By now most of you have received the report from Al Ortiz about the problems with the 60 Minutes story on Benghazi.

There is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organization. We have rebuilt CBS News in a way that has dramatically improved our reporting abilities. Ironically 60 Minutes, which has been a model for those changes, fell short by broadcasting a now discredited account of an important story, and did not take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented it from happening.

As a result, I have asked Lara Logan, who has distinguished herself and has put herself in harm’s way many times in the course of covering stories for us, to take a leave of absence, which she has agreed to do. I have asked the same of producer Max McClellan, who also has a distinguished career at CBS News.

As Executive Producer, I am responsible for what gets on the air. I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.

When faced with a such an error, we must use it as an opportunity to make our broadcast even stronger. We are making adjustments at 60 Minutes to reduce the chances of it happening again.

There is a lot of pride at CBS News. Every broadcast is working hard to live up to the high standard set at CBS News for excellence in reporting. This was a regrettable mistake. But there are many fine professionals at 60 Minutes who produce some of the very best of broadcast journalism, covering the important and interesting stories of our times, and they will continue to do so each and every Sunday.

Jeff Fager
Chairman, CBS News
Executive Producer, 60 Minutes

Logan was set to host the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual press freedom awards tonight in New York. She is a board member of the organization. But she was replaced at the last minute by CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, Politico reports.

Here is Ortiz’s report: Read More »

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WME Signs ‘CBS Evening News’ Anchor Scott Pelley

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 11:27am PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Scott Pelley is a star 60 Minutes correspondent and landed the anchor chair at a broadcast nightly newscast without an agent. Imagine what he can do with one. The CBS Evening News anchor and … Read More »

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Stephen Colbert Gets Scoop On ‘60 Minutes’ Botched Benghazi Report From “Insider”: Video

By | Tuesday November 12, 2013 @ 10:23am PST

Like you, Stephen Colbert noticed the similarity between how the story of 60 Minutesbotched Benghazi report is playing out, and Aaron Sorkin‘s prescient second-season storyline on HBO‘s The Newsroom.

Here’s the result:

Related: CBS News’ Wraps Up Read More »

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UPDATED: CBS News’ Wraps Up ’60 Minutes’ With Another Apology For Botched Benghazi Report

By | Sunday November 10, 2013 @ 6:05pm PST

UPDATED, SUNDAY 6:05 PM: 60 Minutes ended its report tonight with CBS News’s most detailed account to date of its error in its October 27th broadcast about the attack on the American special mission compound in Benghazi. As she had on CBS This Morning on Friday, Lara Logan delivered the apology. It was Logan who had interviewed security officer Dylan Davies in that October 27th broadcast, in which he described his activities the night of the attack – an account that has now been discredited by an FBI report about the incident. As with her comments on the morning news program, and with 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager (who is also chairman of CBS News), there was no mention as to what steps CBS News will take to determine how the mistake was made, or whether any staffers will be suspended or dismissed.

Related: CBS News Admits Benghazi Attack Report Was “Wrong”: Video

Here is what Logan said:

“We end our broadcast tonight with a correction, on a story we reported October 27th about the attack on the American special mission compound in Benghazi, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. In the story, a security officer working for the State Department, Dylan Davies, told us he went to the compound during the attack, and detailed his role that night.

“After our report aired, questions arose about whether his account was true, when an incident report surfaced. It told a different story about what he did the night of the attack. Davies denied having anything to do with that incident report, and insisted the story he told us was not only accurate, it was the same story he told the FBI when they interviewed him. On Thursday night, when we discovered the account he gave the FBI was different than what he told us, we realized we had been misled, and it was a mistake to include him in our report. For that, we are very sorry. The most important thing to every person at 60 Minutes is the truth. And the truth is, we made a mistake.” Read More »

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UPDATE: CBS News Admits Benghazi Attack Report Was “Wrong”: Video

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 6:40am PST

UPDATE, 6:20 AM: “We were wrong,” 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan said on CBS This Morning about the newsmagazine’s report on the Benghazi attack in 2012 that was based on an interview with Dylan Davies, who had worked for the State Department in Libya. “We apologize to our viewers,” she added. The apology comes at the end of a week in which press reports called into question the truth of Davies’ claims in the interview — and a book, published by CBS. That includes new details of an interview Davies did with the FBI after the attack, of which Logan said CBS News was aware but had not seen when it broadcast its segment. Logan said Davies had insisted the FBI interview would corroborate his interview with the newsmag; this week CBS News learned it did not, Logan said. Taking a page from the Crisis Management Handbook, reps for the news division advised reporters the brouhaha was politically motivated earlier in the week. Then, late last night, CBS News issued a statement that it was looking into the new information. The admission of error and apology came 12 hours after that. “We were misled,” Logan told Norah O’Donnell and Jeff Glor. 60 Minutes will apologize on-air this Sunday and set the record straight, she said. Between now and then expect much media ruminating about that other botched 60 Minutes report, on George W. Bush’s National Guard service, helmed by Dan Rather in 2004, and whether this new embarrassment will cost anyone at the news division their jobs.

Here’s the video, followed by the transcript:

Here’s the transcript:

NORAH O’DONNELL: “60 MINUTES” has learned of new information that undercuts its October 27th account of an ex-security officer who called himself Morgan Jones. His real name is Dylan Davies, and he recounted to Lara Logan, in great detail, what he claimed were his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound. Lara joins us this morning. Lara, good morning. What can you tell us?

LARA LOGAN: The most important thing to every person at “60 MINUTES” is the truth, and today the truth is that we made a mistake. That’s very disappointing for any journalist. It’s very disappointing for me. Nobody likes to admit that they made a mistake, but if you do, you have to stand up and take responsibility and you have to say that you were wrong. And in this case, we were wrong. We made a mistake. And how did this happen? Well, Dylan Davies worked for the State Department in Libya, was the manager of the local guard force at the Benghazi Special Mission compound. He described for us his actions the night of the attack, saying he had entered the compound and had a confrontation with one of the attackers, and that he had seen the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens in a local hospital. And after our report aired, questions were raised about whether his account was real, after an incident report surfaced that told a different story about what he’d done that night. He denied that report and said that he told the FBI the same story he told us. But what we now know is that he told the FBI a different story from what he told us. That’s when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source, and that we were wrong to put him on air, and we apologize to our viewers.

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UPDATE: Dan Rather Hoped CBS News Would Relent And Include Him In JFK Assassination Coverage Plans

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 8:28am PST

Dan Rather says he’d hoped CBS News would ask him to be part of its coverage of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy‘s assassination. As Deadline reported two weeks ago, CBS News announced plans for coverages of the historic event without mentioning Rather, who was the CBS News guy assigned to the region, and who reported on the assassination in Dallas. Rather who is one of few journalists who covered the event who’s still around and working in the biz, will be included in CBS News coverage, but only in archival material in the news division’s 48 Hours special, As it Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years, on November 16, at 9 PM. While real-time Rather will not be there for CBS, he will participate in NBC News’ plans — he’s appearing with Tom Brokaw on Today, on the actual anniversary of JFK’s death, November 22, that network announced last month. CBS News meanwhile, touted its next best thing in its coverage news: Bob Schieffer, who was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the day of the assassination and conducted the first interview with Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother as he rode with her from Fort Worth to Dallas to see her son in custody. CBS News called Schieffer “the only current network news anchor who was in Dallas on the day of the shooting.”

“I held off doing anything for anybody else for a while, thinking I may be asked to do something (for CBS),” Rather told the Associated Press this week. “I can’t say I had any reason for that hope.”  Susan Zirinsky, senior producer of CBS News’s planned 48 Hours special, told the AP that film of Rather on that day will be part of the Schieffer-anchored special, as will recollections from Rather that had been recorded for CBS when he worked there.

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CBS Weighs 24-Hour Digital News Service

By | Tuesday October 29, 2013 @ 12:44pm PDT

The network is talking to three distributors about carrying a service that would include content from CBS’ existing news staff and its archives, I’m told. But planning is still in the early stages, and likely will be shaped when CBS decides … Read More »

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CBS News Unveils Coverage of JFK Assassination Anniversary, Dan Rather-Free

By | Monday October 21, 2013 @ 10:19am PDT

CBS, the network most closely associated with President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, being the network on which Walter Cronkite gave the first television network news report officially announcing Kennedy’s death, today unveiled plans for coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination in Dallas. Cronkite died in 2009, but the CBS News guy assigned to the region who reported on the assassination in Dallas, Dan Rather is still around. But Rather, who unwillingly stepped down from CBS News years ago, won’t be part of the news division’s coverage next month — in fact, Rather’s name is not even mentioned in CBS News’ announcement. Dan Rather will be seen on NBC News, in an appearance with Tom Brokaw on Today, on the actual anniversary of JFK’s death, November 22.

CBS News touted its next best thing: Bob Schieffer, who was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the day of the assassination and conducted the first interview with Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother as he rode with her from Fort Worth to Dallas to see her son in custody and who, CBS News noted, is “the only current network news anchor who was in Dallas on the day of the shooting.”  That’s the closest CBS News got to mentioning Rather in today’s announcement.

Related: R.I.P. CBS Newsman Lew Wood

Detailing plans for its primetime special, As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years, to include video from the CBS News archives from the day of the assassination, CBS News mentioned Cronkite’s moving report, and described the other footage thusly: “Viewers are in the moment with legendary anchor Walter Cronkite and journalism’s iconic reporters: Charles Collingwood, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt and Mike Wallace.” CBS News also noted that throughout the week, its web site will stream the original CBS News broadcast coverage of the assassination in real time, and the four-day period following the shooting, adding, “Viewers will relive the extraordinary 1963 CBS News reports from New York, Dallas, Washington and around the world as Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt, Roger Mudd and others reported the tragedy.” Read More »

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NBC & CBS Forced To Retract Name Of Navy Yard Shooter After Getting It Wrong

By | Monday September 16, 2013 @ 12:27pm PDT

In the midst of a stream of breaking news around the shootings today at the Navy Yard in Washington DC, NBC and CBS stumbled. At around 1 PM ET, both networks reported that the shooter of at least 11 people at the DC facility as Rollie Chance, a Navy officer. “NBC News I-Unit head RT @REspositoNBC: Shooter identified as a Rollie Chance #NavyYardShooting,” tweeted NBC News’ Chuck Todd just before 1 PM ET. CBS reported the shooter’s name soon afterwards too. The problem was both NBC and CBS were wrong and had to retract the information. “BREAKING. @johnmillercbs advises the initial reports identifying the suspected shooter as Rollie Chance are wrong,’ tweeted CBS producer Charlie Kaye just before 1 PM. “NBC News: we are now NOT reporting name of shooter; retracting that report. deleting those tweets,” tweeted Todd at 1:05 PM. Less than half and hour later, Todd added, “The confusion over the shooter name had to do with an I.D. card found near dead gunman; What led to bad initial reporting.” Todd didn’t stop there. “I know folks are relishing an opportunity to get out their hatred for media; I’m just trying to provide context for what we got wrong,” he added. At 2:46 PM, NBC News’ Pete Williams identified the shooter as civilian contractor Aaron Alexis based on reports from federal officials. The gunman was killed in a shootout with police today. Police officials did not confirm or deny that other shooters were involved. Shots first were reported at around 8:15 AM ET. Read More »

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Charlie Rose Interview With Syria’s Bashar Assad To Air Monday

By | Sunday September 8, 2013 @ 9:14am PDT

Charlie Rose scored his news coup today in Damascus, where Syrian President Bashar Assad sat for an interview that will air Monday – Charlie Rose Assadthe same day President Obama‘s recorded … Read More »

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R.I.P. Newsman Bruce Dunning

By | Monday August 26, 2013 @ 3:06pm PDT

The CBS newsman famous for his gripping 1975 report on the last flight out of Da Nang as the South Vietnamese city was falling died today. Bruce Dunning died at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital of injuries suffered in a fall. Rising from being a young reporter covering the Vietnam War for CBS, he became the network’s Asia bureau chief in 1989 and served in the post until his 2006 retirement. In 1979, he was one of the first American journalists to report from North Korea, and was CBS’ first reporter to be based in China when the Beijing Bureau opened two years later. But Dunning is best remembered for his riveting report on the last flight out from Da Nang in March 1975. As he narrated the scene, the camera showed hordes of desperate refugees dashing across the airport’s outskirts and tarmac before many stormed the plane. The World Airways flight had been intended to rescue women and children; instead, it was boarded most by military deserters in a wildly chaotic scene. Watch his report “Back From Da Nang” after the jump. Read More »

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‘CBS Evening News’ Anchor Scott Pelley On Making Mistakes And Why Cable News Doesn’t Matter As Much As We Think

By | Saturday June 15, 2013 @ 1:46pm PDT

Related: CNN’s ‘New Day’ On Battling ‘Fox & Friends’

On June 6, 2011, Scott Pelley took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News, his tenure following Katie Couric’s five-year run. The once-dominant newscast had fallen to third place behind NBC and ABC during the end of Dan Rather’s reign, and Couric’s stint saw the broadcast fall to record ratings lows. While still No. 3 among the Big Three, the CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley has seen significant growth since the Texan took over after a long run at sibling 60 Minutes. In the past year, the 6:30 PM broadcast has added 490,000 viewers, the largest annual increase for the network’s evening news in 15 years and the best among the broadcast news rivals since 2002. Overall, the CBS Evening News is up 12% in viewers since Pelley’s debut. Just before his second anniversary in the anchor chair, Deadline spoke with Pelley about the relevance of cable news and why so many mistakes are getting on the air.

Related: It’s Official: Scott Pelley New ‘CBS Evening News’ Anchor

DEADLINE: In an age where the news is a 24-hour business, how can a 6:30 PM once-a-day broadcast still give the reach and the immediacy that news stories require?
PELLEY: You know, never in human history has there been so much information available to so many people. But never in human history has there been so much bad information available to so many people. And I think people are looking for brand names that they can trust and CBS News is one of those. The other half of this is that folks are busy. They’re going to work, they’re going to school they’re getting the kids off to school, and they care about the world; they want to know about the world but they don’t have a lot of time to spend on that. So what were offering at the evening news is, within 30 minutes we’re going to tell you about the 12 most important things that happened in the world. And you’re going to get that from the CBS News brand, which you already trust. And I think that’s why we’ve added a million viewers in the last 2 years and why we grew so much this last year in particular.

DEADLINE: You said recently you believe that there’s a crisis in journalism, saying that the house is on fire: there are too many mistakes, things are being put up too fast, it’s too sloppy, and there is too great a reliance on social media.
PELLEY: The country is only as strong as its journalism — that’s the way democracies work. The higher the quality of the information, the better informed the electorate is and the better the government runs. And the American people can always be trusted with the information. What I was talking about in that particular speech is remaining vigilant to those goals. Too often in recent months and maybe over the last couple of years, in the haste to be first with a piece of news, a news organization has gotten it wrong and I was just suggesting that that race to be first is a bankrupt pursuit. It’s meaningless. It doesn’t mean anything to anyone except those of us within the industry. It’s a game that we play on our own control rooms to see who got something first. It has no value whatsoever to the audience and I think a little bit of humility on the part of journalism would serve it and the audience very well, that we should care less about competing with each other and care more about delivering the highest-quality product that we can to the audience. So that’s what I was driving at there. We’re a human institution and, worst of all things, we’re a human institution on deadline. So mistakes are going to get made all the time. At CBS and everywhere else. But the goal should always be to deliver the highest-quality product that we can. Read More »

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CBS News Tops 2013 Edward R. Murrow Winners List

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 9:34am PDT

CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes and CBSNews.com were among the winners in their categories at the Radio Television Digital News Association’s annual awards, which will be handed out during a ceremony October 14 in New York. In the Network Radio … Read More »

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CBS News Names Bill Felling Executive Director Of News Services

By | Thursday May 30, 2013 @ 2:36pm PDT

Bill Felling has been promoted to Executive Director, News Services for CBS News, it was announced today by CBS News Chairman and 60 MINUTES Executive Producer Jeff Fager and David Rhodes, President of CBS News. In his

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CBS News Names VP, News Services

By | Thursday May 16, 2013 @ 12:20pm PDT

Kurt Davis has been named Vice President, News Services for CBS News. Davis will lead CBS News’ satellite newsgathering organization, which provides news and information to 200 CBS affiliates as well as to broadcasters around the world. The … Read More »

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