|Given that no one has proved that the documents were forgeries, does he think he’s being held to too high a standard? I watch him stiffen, the muscles in his face no longer good-ol’-boy charming.
“I’m not going to revisit that,” he says. “The panel report is what it is. I’ve read it. I absorbed it. I will carry it with me in the future. It was a process that resulted in four good people losing their jobs. My reaction is one of great sadness.”
“But I need to know why,” I say, pressing him. The independent investigation had cleared CBS of charges of political bias, but sources had told me that CBS News president Andrew Heyward was instrumental in hiring Thornburgh for the report. In effect, Thornburgh took on CBS as his fiduciary client. He had an ethical obligation to represent CBS’s best interest and to minimize any exposure CBS might have had to legal and political liability. “This has ‘whitewash’ written all over it,” I tell him. “As Dan Rather might say, if it walks like a duck–“
“I know what you want, but I can’t provide it,” he says firmly, then insists that he doesn’t wish to comment further on the affair.