Dan Rather’s lawsuit at CBS achieved its first purpose; it’s put Dan Rather back in the spotlight. After having disappeared into the black hole of HDNet, Rather once again has become noteworthy enough to get an invitation on Larry King Live and the rest of the talkshows. However, if he had hoped to resurrect his reputation with the lawsuit, his colleagues have not been impressed (via QandO):
Rather’s former colleagues at CBS have something to say.
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.”
This point can’t get enough emphasis, because it shows Rather’s hypocrisy in claiming himself as a victim. Josh Howard, the executive producer that had to resign in the wake of the Memogate debacle, insisted that Rather had intimate involvement in the story, arguing over “every line” in the script. Rather, in his lawsuit, insists that all he did was read what was put in front of him not once but twice, the second time for his “deeply” personal apology. In both cases, Rather claims now to have been fooled into acquiescence, despite his career-long insistence that he remained first and foremost a reporter even as news anchor.
If he’s that much of a patsy, why would CBS keep him around?
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?”
If it had been John Kerry, the story wouldn’t have ran. Mary Mapes had been pushing this story for six years, and even a modicum of research would have shown that the basis of the story was false. Mapes insisted that Bush got into the Texas Air National Guard through favoritism because the Guard had long waiting lists during the period of the draft. However, CNN had already proven that the TexANG had no such waiting lists for those committing to be pilots (which had a longer commitment), and in fact were actively recruiting to fill the empty slots.
The CBS report authored by Mapes and Rather never included that information, even though it had been public knowledge since at least 1999.
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.”
And another former colleague questioned Rather’s motives, declaring that the former anchor is seeking to raise his profile in his post-CBS career at HDNet, a cable channel controlled by billionaire Mark Cuban. “Had he been a big success in his new life” at HDNet, this person speculated, “I don’t believe this would have happened. How do I get myself back into the news? Sue CBS, of course. All of a sudden, people are now talking about Dan Rather again.”
That’s the reason why Rather has gone on this embarrassing, paranoid valedictory tour. He can’t stand not having the spotlight. He also can’t admit his own fault in his downfall, and so the only explanation that he can accept is that Les Moonves, Sumner Redstone, Josh Howard, and Don Hewitt of all people are actors in a vast, Bush-based conspiracy to discredit him.
Unfortunately, Dan does that well enough on his own, and even his colleagues have to admit it.