Tony Blankley

Let's start with the title of the CBS Panel: "Report of the Independent Review Panel Dick Thornburgh and Lewis D. Boccardi; Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP, Counsel to the Independent Review Panel."

 My first question is from whom is the Review Panel and its hired lawyers independent? Who paid the law firm for its hundreds, probably thousands of hours of research? I assume CBS paid them.

 Keep in mind, it was the law firm that did the actual investigation. I have already communicated with one person who was contacted by a lawyer for the firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockart and told that they were carrying out the investigation's research. And, of course, Mr. Thornburgh is a senior member of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP.

 So the lawyers hired to independently investigate CBS have a lawyer/client relationship with CBS. Presumably, as a senior member of that firm, Independent Review Panel Member Richard Thornburgh also has CBS as a fiduciary client. Thus, unlike similarly named government independent investigations -- this one is paid for by, and carried out on behalf of, the target of the investigation.

 The foregoing is not meant to impugn the integrity of Mr. Thornburgh. He is a man of proven integrity. But it is meant to try to determine what ethical obligations are required of him. If CBS is his legal client, then he has an ethical obligation to represent CBS's best interests -- and certainly to minimize any exposure CBS might have to legal liability for their conduct.

 I would assume that as a former attorney general and public man, he would also feel an ethical obligation not to report facts to the public other than those he believed to be correct and in fair context. While those two sets of ethical imperatives may sometimes be hard to manage simultaneously, from a first reading of the report it appears to me that he has upheld both of those ethical obligations.

 Thus, the report issued this week appears to be a very thorough and accurate rendition of facts that demonstrate the bad journalism practiced by CBS. This fulfills both his ethical obligations. He has been honest with his factual report, and, by being so, he has helped CBS appear to be coming clean with the public.

 But where he has boldly sought and reported the objective facts, he has been cautious and inconclusive regarding the subjective characterizing of those facts.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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