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The Troubling 60 Minutes Episode That Got Four Top Staffers Fired

For over 50 years, "60 Minutes" has been bringing hard-hitting news stories to the screens of viewers all around the world. With their penchant for deep investigative journalism and their trusted integrity, the cast and crew behind the CBS program have managed to bring light to some incredibly important stories.

However, "60 Minutes" has not been without its fair share of mistakes over the years. From Lara Logan's deeply flawed Benghazi report (via Politico) to Charlie Rose's tarnished reputation (via The Washington Post), the news program has had more than a few black eyes in its 54 years on the air.

However, few were as devastating as the fallout that followed a 2005 episode of "60 Minutes." In fact, the episode in question was so controversial that four CBS executives ended up being let go from their positions for allowing it to go to air. From forged documents to a lack of due diligence, here's the episode that cost four people their jobs and left a black mark on the reputation of "60 Minutes."

60 Minutes ran a report based on false information

As reported by PBS News, an episode of "60 Minutes," which aired on September 8, 2005, contained inaccuracies and outright forgeries that were so glaring that CBS was investigated by an independent panel which included a former US attorney. The story from the episode in question focused on a set of documents that alleged that then-President George W. Bush had failed to meet the requirements of his military service.

Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard prior to becoming a politician, and though his spotty service remained an issue of contention in both of his presidential campaigns, he succeed in winning the presidency in the 2000 and 2004 elections (via Britannica).

When "60 Minutes" received documents that alleged Col. Jerry Killian, who was Bush's commander at the time, was worried that Bush was going over his head so that he wouldn't have to meet training requirements, they ran with the story even though they had failed to properly vet it.

Dan Rather kept his job but not for long

As it turned out, the documents were false, and as a result, four executives were fired for their involvement or lack of oversight regarding the story. Mary Mapes, who produced the segment, was let go immediately, while Josh Howard, Mary Murphy, and Betsy West were also asked to resign as a result.

Dan Rather, on the other hand, was allowed to keep his job for a short period. Though Rather had vigorously defended the authenticity of the story according to PBS News, he was allowed to finish out his time at CBS. This was due to the fact that he had already announced he would be leaving the anchor's chair in March of 2005. Since the 224-page examination of the "60 Minutes" report had only been released in January of 2005, CBS decided not to take any further action against Rather.

Still, the episode remains one of the most controversial moments in the long history of "60 Minutes." Unfortunately, it would seem that the cast and crew behind the news program still haven't learned their lesson, as a 2021 episode of "60 Minutes" featured a story about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis once again made the news show a target for aggressive criticism. Hopefully, the program will begin to take steps to rectify problems like this from occurring in future episodes of "60 Minutes."