In 1976, a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the CIA probed the alliance between the press and the agency. Bernstein believes the CIA persuaded the committee to downplay the extent of the cooperation.
But out of that investigation came a news report - ironically by CBS - that identified Kearns as a journalist who had worked simultaneously for the CIA.
Kearns was shaken by the story, and he forcefully denied it. The Senate Committee turned up widespread abuses by the CIA, including planned assassinations of foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert governments.
Kearns believed linking him to the CIA sullied his stellar reputation.
The documentary, as well as other media reports, shows that long-time CBS President William Paley had a close personal and working relationship with former CIA head Allen Dulles, and his network helped provide cover for CIA spies.
Yet it was Kearns who, after risking his life more than 100 times while covering stories for the network, was the reporter thrown under the bus. (The other was Austin Goodrich, who readily admitted he worked as a reporter and as a spy.)
The documentary is a fascinating story of an exhilarating and complicated life.
Davis and Hitchcock tell us how Kearns journeyed to the world's most dangerous places and put himself in harm's way in search of the truth.
But as hard as the documentary tries, the ultimate truth about Frank Kearns remains a mystery.
(Frank Kearns: American Correspondent was broadcast Monday, Oct. 15 on WV PBS, and will be rebroadcast at 9 p.m. Friday.)
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.