Rather: The complaint and the truth Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, September 22, 2007
And, after reading the complaint, I don't see much of the truth in there. But it is a interesting document to read (you'll find it here [pdf]).
There are a number of allegations which seem specious at best.
For instance, Rather is described as one of America's "foremost reporters". Yet when you read about the Bush NG story, he is described as someone who had no real hand in putting the story together. He used the Peter Arnette "Tailwind" defense. As it turned out, he essentially claims he was the talking head. But when pressed, Rather says that's not really what he's trying to claim although others do bear responsibility for the story, not him (unsurprisingly he's trying to have it both ways, because "talking head" is as damaging to his rep as acknowledging he was responsible for the story):
Rather disputed the notion that he was portraying himself as a mere newsreader on the National Guard story, uninvolved in the key decisions that were made. Still, he says top CBS executives bore responsibility for the piece.
"Anybody who knows me knows I love to report," he said. "I did what I could on this story." But he said he was busy at the time covering a hurricane, the Republican convention and Bill Clinton's heart ailment, along with his anchoring duties.
"Andrew Heyward took over the supervising of this piece," Rather said. "They didn't invite me, ask me, inform me when the final screening took place. I wasn't as deeply involved as I normally am." He said he had warned Heyward that "reaction to it could be thermonuclear."
But as Howard Kurtz notes, at least one of those who worked on the story with Rather (and is mentioned in the lawsuit) disputes that claim:
But Josh Howard, the former executive producer of "60 Minutes II," said Wednesday that Rather was deeply involved in the story, to the point of arguing over every line in the script.
I find Howard's version much more credible that Rather's given Rather's history. You're either a reporter or a reader. Reporters develop the story. Readers present what others have done. Rather has never presented himself as just a presenter or reader on the stories he's done for "60 Minutes". He's always portrayed himself as deeply involved in presenting those pieces. Obviously on the CBS News he'd present the work of others, but "60 Minutes" was always branded as "investigative journalism". It's rather hard to now believe that he had little responsibility for the final form of that particular piece.
Take, for example, Don Hewitt, the legendary producer of “60 Minutes.” “Any news organization, print or broadcast, has the right to protect its reputation by divesting itself of a reporter, irrespective of who he or she is, who it feels reported as fact something that reflected his or her biases more than the facts bear,” he said in a NEWSWEEK interview. “And if the reporter’s defense is that he or she had been ‘had,’ isn’t he or she someone a news organization worth its salt can no longer trust not to be ‘had’ again.”
Hewitt says he had questioned whether the reporting was biased at a CBS meeting convened to discuss the controversy that began to swell after the story aired. “Let me ask one question,” he recalls addressing the gathering. “If this had been John Kerry, wouldn’t you have been more careful about the story?” A senior CBS News insider said Rather is further damaging his reputation by suing. “I think it looks pathetic,” this executive told NEWSWEEK on condition of not being identified. "It looks like the musing of an older man who can’t let go. This will have no winners. But the biggest loser will be Dan.”
I think Hewitt pretty well nails the point. And my guess is Rather's lawsuit will get nailed on that point as well.
This is all about ego and false-pride on Rather's part. It is also a legacy issue. Like Mapes, has convinced himself that he has been wronged, that the story is credible and that CBS was in the Bush White House's back pocket and that is why he was shuffled out the door.
Instead, Hewitt's analysis is much more likely the case.
Well, the first thing is that Rather is going to have to pick a story and stick to it. It’s silly to first posit "fake but accurate" and then "I’m nothing but a newsreader". A newsreader doesn’t know enough to determine that something is "fake but accurate".
Since none of his defenses are likely to work anyway, I think Rather is angling (or maybe his lawyer is angling) for a CBS settlement, even for a token amount. CBS might well be motivated to do that to avoid dragging everyone’s name through the mud three years after the fact. As the CBS insider says, in such a case there will be no winners, so CBS may want it to be over as soon as possible.
A token amount will do because Rather doesn’t need the money, and he can probably pay his lawyer well to tilt at windmills. What Rather does need for his own self-respect is some kind of admission by CBS that they were wrong. He can rationalize any settlement they make with him as an admission of wrongdoing, even if they explicitly claim otherwise. That would salve his conscious and let him believe he was the victim all along.
Of course, only Rather, Mapes, and their deluded allies on the left (including, unfortunately, at least one of our own commenters) will be taken in by Rather’s spin on a CBS settlement. But I really hope CBS does not settle and maintains that Rather/Mapes were snookered, because if they do settle, there will no doubt be professors of journalism and political science teaching the "fake but accurate" defense seriously in college classrooms for the next two or three decades.
When I was in the TV game, a roadie for Rather who accompanied him to Pakistan in 1981 for his breathless reporting from inside Afghanistan.
Only problem was, they never got near Afghanistan, according to this young guy who told me that Rather [and CBS] had hired a Paki movie crew, went to the hills outside Peshawar, and simulated gunfire & explosions while Dan courageously posed as an intrepid newsman.
All faked, just like Dan whose transparent phoniness brought the Tiffany network’s news operation into third place as permanent bottom-dweller in the TV evening news ratings race.
Rather pathetic is a nice way to describe this gutless spineless impostor.
Rather is a compleat fraud and a delusional narcissist.
Rather was, in my view, doing his job as defined by CBS. The network as far too long history of leaning left, to make any assumptions of their innocence, now, regardless of Dan Rather’s involvement.
They share the blame for the lies they told. It’s really that simple. This is a well timed action on Rather’s part, trying to get this all into the public discussion, prior to the election in 08.
The trouble for both Dan Rather, and CBS, is that they will each be trying to throw each other under the bus by revealing various facts, that have thus far been withheld from us. Both will end up taking it on the chin, and the ultimate picture that will come out of all of this is CBS and Dan Rather both were trying to steal the election for the Democrat party. I will leave it to your imagination as to how that’s going to play with the voting public.
My prediction is that this story will play out in the headlines and on top of the talking TV heads agendas until the legal process reaches the "discovery" stage at which time Rather will quietly withdraw the suit. Until that time, and I believe he will strectch it out as long as he can, he is back on the front pages and folks like Chris Mathews and Keith Olbermann and others on the left will pander to him as the darling of those who dare to "speak truth to power"!
Still trying to figure out the angles. At times Rather appears to be competent, almost sharp; at others it’s a virtual facsimile of "Ah, but the strawberries...geometric logic..."
If Kerry were running again I would put this down to defusing a rather (hee hee) large bomb, but there is no indication of same.
Need more data, but one thing that Hillary has done; by forcing the earlier run (which has in some respects backfired), she has ensured that all the dirty skeletons will come to the dance. Well, almost all.
And as the public maw demands feeding, only fresh skeletons will do. In a way, she has insulated herself from past scandals. I don’t reckon she figured on the Hsu imbroglio, or that Obama would be such a pest; but she’s either got heavy duty dirt on some people or she wants us to get in the weeds.
Painting CBS as part of the vast right-wing yadda yadda, would resonate with her base. Not that CBS was doing much with Hsu beforehand, but she might as well taint that particular water-source early.