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January 3, 2005
Good Luck On That Sale

Drudge links to a Broadcasting & Cable item that reports on a meeting between beleaguered CBS News president Andrew Heyward and the White House. Heyward, rumored to be on the chopping block when the long-awaited internal investigation of the Rathergate fiasco is released, may need a truce with the White House to save his job:

Let the fence-mending begin. According to a Broadcasting & Cable source in Washington, D.C., CBS News president Andrew Heyward, along with Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner, recently met with White House communications director Dan Bartlett, in part to repair chilly relations with the Bush administration. ...

Heyward was working overtime to convince Bartlett that neither CBS News nor Rather had a vendetta against the White House, our source says, and from here on out would do everything it could to be fair and balanced. CBS declined to comment.

On its face, Heyward's mission appears doomed. No one at the White House will buy CBS' protestations of neutrality for a moment. Even if Heyward and CBS were sincere, the broadcaster has a long history of skewed reporting against Republicans in general, and the Bush family in particular. None of the decisionmakers involved in the forged-memos scandal have left CBS yet, either voluntarily or otherwise. Mary Mapes, the producer who green-lighted the memos, spent five years on her crusade to find something with which to smear George Bush. The White House now should believe that Mapes will play straight down the middle, or Rather in his new duties at 60 Minutes Wednesday?

But even worse, the sight of a broadcaster going to the White House to plead its case of neutrality just plain smells bad. CBS should have worked at being objective for fifty years, and had they done so, Heyward wouldn't need to go, hat in hand, to Dan Bartlett to beg forgiveness. In fact, all they need to do is start being objective in their news coverage (or at least balanced) and their work would speak for itself. Heyward's supplications look like butt-covering than any real change of direction for his news division.

What's more, CBS shouldn't go pleading to the White House for a break. It makes them beholden to Bush in a manner that does more to damage their credibility than to repair it. Conservatives may revel in the humbling of the Tiffany Network, but the result will be to undermine anything positive reported by CBS on the Bush Administration. They will become suspect through their debt.

If nothing else, Heyward's diplomatic mission shows that the Thornburg report likely has harsh criticism of the CBS News division. If not, Heyward would have stayed home and rode this one out.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 3, 2005 6:36 AM

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