'60 Minutes' Document Expert Slams CBS Report, Demands Corrections

By: Joe Strupp A document examiner involved in the flawed "60 Minutes Wednesday" report on George W. Bush's National Guard service claims that he was defamed and his reputation damaged by the recent report from an independent review panel that investigated the show's reporting practices, E&P has learned.

Marcel Matley, one of four document experts consulted by CBS News while reporting its Sept. 8, 2004, report on Bush, is demanding a slew of corrections in the report, which was issued earlier this month. In an interview with E&P, he referred to the report's treatment of him as "defamation."

The independent review panel, headed by former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and former Associated Press CEO Louis Boccardi, found mistakes in the network's efforts to authenticate documents on which the report was based and determined that CBS had rushed the report to air too quickly.

In an e-mail to Thornburgh's office on Jan. 13, obtained by E&P, Matley criticized the report as containing "certain incorrect statements affecting me and which are derogatory and/or damaging to me professionally." He also asks that the panel issue corrections for each of the errors he contends are in the report and distribute the corrections.

"It is professional defamation," Matley, a 20-year document expert, told E&P, from his home in San Francisco. "When you are in a court of law, it can make the difference between being considered credible or not."

He said the report has already hurt his professional reputation, claiming it was mentioned last week during his appearance in a Modesto, Calif., courtroom on a probate case. "Someone brought it up that I was the one who made the mistake in the '60 Minutes' case," he said. "I've already had this thrown at me."

Matley told E&P he had yet to hear back from CBS or Thornburgh about the e-mail. "They have not acknowledged my existence," he declared. "They have not even replied."

Boccardi, reached at his home Tuesday, said he had seen the e-mail, but declined to comment on it. "I'm aware of it," he told E&P. "I've seen it, but I'm not going to say anything more on that." He referred calls to Michael J. Missal, an attorney in Thornburgh's Washington, D.C., office who helped with the panel's report.

Neither Missal nor Thornburgh could be reached for comment Tuesday, as both were out of town, according to their offices. A CBS News spokeswoman declined comment on the matter but said she would look into it.

Matley said he was asked to review several documents and signatures by CBS News for the Bush report and indicated he could not authenticate the documents. He said he did believe the signatures matched. The review panel report reflected that belief.

In his e-mail, Matley said there were some "excellent qualities" in Thornburgh and Boccardi's report, but he also cited 18 separate examples of alleged inaccurate or defamatory statements in the 234-page document, which the panel released on Jan. 5.

He claims he asked the review panel to tape-record its interview with him, which he says the investigators declined to do. "The panel bears the burden for all lapses in accuracy due to lack of a verbatim record," his e-mail states. He also complains that several findings in the report were based on unnamed sources, which he would like revealed.

Among his 18 examples of alleged inaccuracies or defamation:

? Two statements that indicate Matley is not a typography specialist, which he contends is false.

? A statement that Matley used the unclear phrase "consistent inconsistencies" to explain why he believed signatures from different documents matched. He claims he never used such a phrase, which appears to refer to the unusual ways in which the signatures were similar.

? Stating that "60 Minutes" should "maintain a list of document examiners who are qualified to provide opinions as needed," which Matley says implies he is not qualified. He also cited a statement in the report that "there was no effort to find the best examiners possible" as hurting his professional reputation.

? Statements in different parts of the report that describe Matley as both "timid" and "hostile" at times. "That is a subjective judgment that is entirely false," his e-mail says.

? A statement in the report of Dan Rather's impression that Matley had authenticated all the documents. "I do not gainsay the honesty of his personal impressions," Matley writes in the e-mail. "But I assert categorically that I never stated nor intended to imply anything beyond my 'carefully circumscribed' observations and opinions as expressed in my written notes of eight points."

In the e-mail, Matley declared that with the publication of the report he was "absolved from all obligations of confidentiality in regards to my assignment with 60 Minutes II."


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