Document Examiner in CBS Case Claims Defamation

Jan 26, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Marcel Matley, a San Francisco-based document examiner, claims he was defamed by a report issued by an independent panel examining a controversial “60 Minutes Wednesday” story that painted President Bush as a shirker in the Vietnam war-era Texas Air National Guard.

Mr. Matley is one of the four document experts whom CBS News consulted before airing a the Sept. 8, 2004, story based on still unauthenticated documents. He claimed his professional reputation has been damaged and has asked for “full publication” of some 18 corrections to the report from the panel’s investigation into what went wrong with the Bush story, which was fronted by Dan Rather.

Mr. Matley also requested some information about some of the panel’s sources in his e-mail dated Jan. 13, three days after CBS News released the report, and addressed to former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and the lawyers whose names were on the front of the report on the investigation. Mr. Matley said he did not know an address by which to reach Mr. Thornburgh’s co-investigator, former Associated Press President Louis Boccardi.

CBS News was forced to apologize for the Bush story, and Mary Mapes, the producer of the piece, was fired by CBS News. Three executives who were involved with the report were asked to resign and are said to be in discussions with their lawyers about their options.

On Wednesday, Mr. Matley said he had no response from any of the addressees on his e-mail, “not even a go to hell. They have not acknowledged receipt of it.”

Michael J. Missal, one of the lawyers who worked with the independent panel, told TelevisionWeek: “We believe that the report is accurate and factually based and find it significant that Mr. Matley did not challenge the primary finding we made with respect to his involvement, that is that he did not authenticate any of the documents. We will review Mr. Matley’s e-mail and respond accordingly.”

CBS News released a statement that said: “We were surprised and disappointed to learn of Marcel Matley’s complaints regarding the report of the independent review panel. The report accurately describes Mr. Matley’s professional background, his review of the alleged National Guard documents and his related opinions. CBS has accepted and stands by those findings.”