CBS' credibility problem

Last night, 60 Minutes aired a report on a Boston gangster — Kevin Weeks — and his connection to the FBI’s 2nd-most-wanted fugitive, James “Whitey” Bulger. Weeks cut a plea bargain, turned on his former colleagues, and has served his sentence.

Weeks had quite a few stories to tell (unfortunately, I was late coming home from work and missed the beginning), but the local CBS station carried excerpts and outtakes — including Weeks’ claim that he, at one point, was tasked by Bulger with the murder of local Boston gadfly Howie Carr.

Carr, when told the details of Weeks’ story, reacted with predictable, stereotypical scorn. He shredded Weeks’s claims with ease.

1) Weeks, in his testimony, repeatedly insisted that he had never committed any murders. He described his role as “gravedigger,” and even in the mob he was seen as a flunkie.

2) Weeks describes one of his plots to kill Carr involved filling a basketball with C-4 and leaving it for Carr to find. This has to be one of the dumbest murder plots I’ve ever heard. First of all, how did they plan on getting their hands on military-grade explosives, when they could have easily gotten dynamite? Second, how did they plan on getting it into a basketball? Finally, how the hell did they plan to get Carr to actually pick up and dribble the basketball, instead of tossing it out of his way or just ignoring it altogether?

3) Weeks’ second plot was to shoot Carr with a rifle from a graveyard across the street from Carr’s home. Weeks was ready to shoot Carr, but refrained when Howie came out of his house with his daughter in hand. Carr points out that there was a high wall around the cemetary, and Weeks didn’t have much of a shot. Besides, Weeks made a point out of saying that he “discovered” where Carr lived — and was prepared to commit a murder just around the corner from a close relative of Weeks’.

4) Crossing Whitey Bulger got a lot of people killed — which Weeks knew, having dug several of their graves (under the threat of “dig their hole, or end up in one yourself.” Yet he skipped killing Carr without suffering any consequences.

Yet despite all these holes, CBS ran the Weeks story. They even gave it the first slot on 60 Minutes last night.

It reminded me so much of the Texas Air National Guard story. In both cases, CBS was presented with extremely shaky evidence, but ran with the story anyway. In the TANG forged-documents story, the story was just too damned juicy and confirmed too many of their biases to question. In the Weeks case, the story was just far too lurid to let slip by.

I wonder if “60 Minutes” now refers to how long they spend checking out their stories before putting them on the air.

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  1. EdMcGon March 13, 2006
  2. Dale March 13, 2006
  3. starboardhelm March 13, 2006
  4. BrianOfAtlanta March 13, 2006
  5. JD March 13, 2006