Fair Play: CBS, General Westmoreland, and How a Television Documentary Went Wrong

Burton Benjamin, Author HarperCollins Publishers $17.95 (218p) ISBN 978-0-06-015928-3
``The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception'' was broadcast on CBS Reports on January 23, 1982. Four months later an article in TV Guide (``How CBS Broke the Rules and `Got' Gen. Westmoreland'') claimed that the documentary violated CBS News standards and was based on a specious preconception. Burton Benjamin, a respected CBS executive, was then charged with conducting an in-house inquiry into every phase of the production. Fair Play , his evenhanded and courtly account of that inquiry, includes excerpts from interviews with the show's executive producer Howard Stringer, producer George Crile, program consultant Sam Adams, film editor Ira Klein and interviewer Mike Wallace. The resulting ``Benjamin Report'' concluded that the program's premise was sound enough but that the production itself was ``out of balance'' in reflecting opposing sides. For example, witnesses supporting the program's point of view were ``coddled,'' while Westmoreland was treated harshly. Fair Play does not cover the celebrated lawsuit that followed the broadcast, but focuses on the origin, planning and biased execution of the documentary itself. Illustrations. (September)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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