Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, November 26, 2007

CBS' Respect-Free Zone for Journalists

The network has come a long way since Edward R. Murrow. From the time William S. Paley backed his newspeople in unmasking Sen. Joe McCarthy to the present day when its lawyers are insulting Dan Rather in court filings for trying to nail George W. Bush's lies about his National Guard service, CBS has been in a downward spiral as steep as the ratings plunge of its nightly news.

In the new issue of New York Magazine, Rather vents his dismay over being blamed for an error in a story that was essentially right and booted out of a job he held with distinction for 24 years after being the network's lead reporter in exposing Nixon and Watergate.

Although legend rightly immortalizes Woodward and Bernstein for their Washington Post coverage leading to Nixon's downfall, CBS News was the only other media outlet that stayed with the story during a time when others held back, and it was Rather who did most of the reporting.

When he recently brought suit to vindicate himself from what Ted Koppel called the "travesty" of his firing for "a story that was much more correct than incorrect," CBS lawyers filed a contemptuous response in court papers, citing it as "a regrettable attempt" by him "to remain in the public eye, and to settle old scores and perceived slights."

At the risk of looking like the loony anchorman in "Network" shouting, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more," Rather is ending his public life with the signoff he used for his broadcasts: "Courage."

He has always had more than his share of that and deserves the respect that a now whorish network is trying to take away from him.


dave in boca said...

Of course, Rather never investigated Clinton's frantic efforts to avoid the draft in '92. But I guess that was completely different, eh?

Back when I was on an overseas TV shoot, a member of Rather's crew in his famous "Afghanistan sneak" in 1980 told me that Rather hired a sound crew and movie crew from Rawalpindi in Pakistan and shot the whole sequence about ten miles from Peshawar---pretending to be in a dangerous Afghani battle zone.

Talk about "courage!!"

jf said...

"completely different, eh?"

Clinton avoided service and got an education. Bush was awol from the ANG, but later showed up in a flight suit on the USS Lincoln 30-some years later, kicking some tail. You see him land that plane? Wow!