Old "60 Minutes" Boss Says Rather Should Have Been Canned for Memogate Fiasco

Via Romenesko, we learn New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove reported that retired CBS "60 Minutes" boss Don Hewitt finally decided that Dan Rather did in fact deserve the ax for that Memogate fiasco:

CBS legend Don Hewitt hasn't been shy about criticizing Dan Rather, but the grand old man of "60 Minutes" had stopped short of publicly recommending termination for the central figure in CBS News' painful 2004 Memogate flap.

Until yesterday.

"Should Dan Rather have been fired?" Time magazine managing editor Jim Kelly asked the 83-year-old Hewitt during a Court TV journalism panel at Michael's.

"Yes," Hewitt answered. He suggested that the 74-year-old Rather -- a "60 Minutes" correspondent since stepping down last March as "Evening News" anchor -- was politically motivated in airing a controversial pre-election report on President Bush's National Guard service.

"I have a built-in bias against reporters who have axes to grind," Hewitt said. "I think there are reporters that allow their own bias to encroach on their journalism, and that's a crime against journalism."

We were enjoying that item until the laugh-out-loud line at the end about Hewitt being against axe-grinding reporters. There is a difference between one-sided, politically partisan, acidulous attack journalism that's well-researched and factually accurate, if unfair. Rather instead was one-sided, partisan, and acidulous, but brought a story that was badly researched, and in the end just evidentially weak and indefensible.

PS: While we're on the New York tabloid gossip beat, Romenesko also links to Editor & Publisher noting that Page Six at the New York Post is recycling its old item about Ted Koppel's alleged teenager relationships.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis