The Washington Post might like to be known as rough and tough, skeptical and questioning, but when it comes to TV news stars, sometimes they sound like a publicist's best friend. Tuesday's big Style profile on Katie Couric is headlined "Up Close and Too Personal: Katie Couric, Center of Attention, Says She Just Wants to Do Her Job." For an article on how Katie is overscrutinized, it's funny how nowhere in the article did media reporter Howard Kurtz ever question whether she's fair and balanced in her journalism. It began with syrup:
She is already the most heavily scrutinized, psychoanalyzed and gossiped-about anchor in network history, and she hasn't yet uttered a single "good evening" on a CBS newscast.
Katie Couric is on the cover of today's Parade Magazine supplement in the Sunday Washington Post, among other papers nationwide. The article by novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard (the first author honored by Oprah's Book Club, Parade tells us) seems pitched at the female viewer, with heavy focus on her personal life and personal grief. But there are a few tidbits about the news. For one, Couric had one quote that sounded like her CBS ad: "The biggest job isn't telling people what happened. It's getting them to understand why they should care." Sounds like a recipe for a lot of editorializing.
Just above that, Mitchard complains about anyone who would question the gravitas of Couric taking over the Dan Rather chair in media distortion. The nerve! She may be talking about you, Matt Felling, meow:
How strong is the word "martyr"? After the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last June, Aljazeera.net reported that a Jordanian got in trouble for using that word to describe Zarqawi, his former countryman.
Jordan's parliament has condemned an Islamist MP for calling Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a "martyr" and demanded that his party question him and three other members for attending the dead al-Qaida leader's wake.
Mohammed Abu Fares tried to ease the blow of his statement.
He said later that the term did not apply to Jordanians who died in last November's triple hotel blasts in Amman. The attacks were claimed by al-Zarqawi's group.
All this controversy over a word that CBS correspondent Jim Stewart used freely yesterday to describe the would-be plane terrorists who were stopped by the British government.
In leading Wednesday's CBS Evening News with how Senator Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, fill-in anchor Harry Smith highlighted the number of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq. Smith announced: “The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home.” And a day after CBS's Trish Regan described as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address, reporter Jim Axelrod dubbed it the “kiss of death.” Over video of the embrace, with “KISS OF DEATH” on screen, Axelrod asserted: “President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary." (Partial transcript follows)
Twice on Tuesday, CBS News correspondent Trish Regan labeled as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address. Regan didn't attribute the characterization to Lieberman's opponents. She stated it as fact. On the Early Show she explained over brief video of the event: "Ned Lamont has used this now infamous kiss to his advantage on campaign buttons and television ads, suggesting Lieberman is just too cozy with the President." Then on the CBS Evening News, Regan asserted over the same video: “His campaign has used images like this now infamous kiss." (Picture of "The Kiss" follows)
On the August 7 CBS Evening News, while filing a story about stem cell research on mice aimed at some day treating deafness in humans, correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin curiously implied that mouse embryos are not living, perhaps betraying a bias in how she views embryos in general. As she described research by Stanford University scientist Dr. Stefan Heller in which he injects stem cells into the ears of "mouse embryos," Kaledin informed viewers he plans to later try injecting stem cells into fully developed mice, which she referred to as "live mice," as if embryos were not technically alive. Kaledin: "He and his colleagues have figured out how to inject stem cells into the ears of mouse embryos and watch them grow. Their next step is to try it in live mice."
On Monday, the CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer (but anchored by Harry Smith) aired a new promo for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in which Couric promised a newscast that will not just explain “what happened,” but also what the news “means to you.” That sounds just like a plug for the worst of gimmicky local TV “news you can use.” Couric maintained, of providing what the news “means to you,” that “I'd like to see more of that and I think viewers would too." For Couric's portion of the 15-second promo, CBS made her image fuzzy, as well as the knick-knacks and flowers in the background. Could the Martha Stewart-like stage be the new “news” set? Beside her you can see a phone and what looks like the top of a computer screen. Maybe the blurry image is intended to convey warmth and softness.
Using the very same expert the CBS Evening News cited on Monday, Wednesday's NBC Nightly News made -- as its second story of the night -- the case that the current heat wave can be blamed on global warming. Anchor Brian Williams set up the piece by ruminating about how “you hear a lot of people saying it didn't used to be like this, didn't used to be this hot, and because of global warming we've done this to ourselves.” Reporter Tom Costello asked: “So is our current heat wave a symptom of global warming?" Jay Gulledge of the self-interested Pew Center on Climate Change confirmed “this heat wave” is “completely consistent with what we expect to become more common as a result of global warming,” before Costello noted there have been heat waves in the past, but insisted that “experts say our current heat wave is unique."
Costello soon cautioned that “scientists want to see whether this heat wave is part of a pattern of longer more intense heat waves before declaring it all part of a bigger global warming phenomenon.” Costello concluded, however, without any doubt, as he referred to “the concern that in the coming decades 100 degrees may be the new summertime norm.” (Transcript and more follows)
On yesterday's "Evening News," CBS reporter Bob Orr's story on a global warming link to the heat wave was cut short due to an overheated satellite truck.
“Just to underline how hot it is, the remote truck that Bob
Orr was broadcasting from just overheated and we had to shut it down,” anchor
Bob Schieffer explained as the story ended abruptly.
Were I a conspiracy theorist I'd think it was just a gimmick to highlight CBS's slanted coverage of global warming as settled science. While Orr possibly could have included a dissenting view somewhere later in his half-aired report, I somehow doubt it.
Before his report cut off, Orr cited Pew Center climatologist Jay Gulledge, who he said argues there "no longer any serious debate" on global warming.Gulledge also argues that it was pollution that staved off global warming in the 1970s.
In Miami, Cuban-Americans were literally dancing in the street at the prospect that the repressive regime of Fidel Castro might finally be drawing to an end. But back in Cuba, people greeted the news of the great liberator's illness with dismay. At least, they did according to CBS News' woman-on-the-spot.
On this morning's Early Show, CBS ran a brief clip of a phone interview with Portia Siegelbaum, a CBS News producer based in Cuba. Here is the entirety of her report:
"The news of Castro's illness was most unexpected. I spoke to half-a-dozen people last night and they seemed most shook up by his handing over power, even if provisionally, to his younger brother Raul."
For nearly all of his presidency, George W. Bush has been on the receiving end of mainly negative — sometimes highly negative — coverage from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), a nonpartisan research group. The only time the TV networks gave Bush mostly (63%) positive coverage was during the three months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and even then nearly four-in-ten on-air evaluations (37%) of the President were critical.
The findings are included in the latest issue of CMPA’s Media Monitor newsletter, which reached my (snail) mailbox on Friday. So far, it has yet to be posted on CMPA’s Web site, which appears to make this NewsBusters posting a World Wide Web exclusive.
On the CBS News "Public Eye" site, CBS Evening News producer Ward Sloane was interviewed in the "Ten Plus One" feature. The Public Eye team asked ten questions, and then added one from an outsider, who asked about media watchdog groups: "There is always a lot of criticism, particularly in the realm of political reporting, about journalists being biased against liberals or conservatives. There are organizations that exist primarily to highlight instances of such bias. How do you think that climate affects political coverage, if at all?" Sloane said all the media-bias talk was just fundraising hucksterism:
I do not believe that honest journalists worry about what such organizations say about their stories and pieces. Of course, political stories I’ve worked on have been picked up by both conservative and liberal organizations as being “unfair.” But for these folks, “unfair” is anything that doesn’t promote their agenda. And it is my belief, though I don’t have any evidence of this, that a lot of the howling about media bias is primarily a vehicle to raise money.
Do I think these organizations can be helpful? Not really; I think they just want to use journalists and their media outlets for their own purposes. People who read or subscribe to those organizations are going to think the media is biased anyway. Once in a blue moon, it may be that they do serve the purpose of poking a stick in my eye and asking, hey, did I slant that item?
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer on Friday night forwarded the idea that the Israeli situation in Lebanon matches the U.S. miscalculation in Iraq. “Despite this heavy bombing that Hezbollah's been getting from the Israelis,” Schieffer told reporter David Martin, “they continue to attack and some critics are saying the Israelis may have made the same mistake that the United States made in Iraq, and that is underestimated what they were up against.” Martin didn't address Schieffer's comparison of the Israel-Hezbollah war with the Iraq war, but he did confirm that “Pentagon officials say both U.S. and Israeli intelligence have underestimated the strength, capabilities, and resilience of Hezbollah.” (Transcript follows)
Jeffrey Lord writes in the American Spectator that the extreme partisanship of CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite is what created Fox News. For decades, CBS led all the others in being the most actvist network, and the sheer brazenness of that activism is what spawned the Fox News Channel.
Physicist Fritjof Capra, in his bestseller The Tao of Physics, writes that "by the very act of focusing our attention on any one concept we create its opposite." In other words, to use the language of physics, when Mr. Cronkite's very focused liberal world view blinked into the American consciousness, its conservative polar opposite blinked into existence along with it. The problem with Cronkite and his fellow "cultural artists" is that over time there emerged what seemed to many Americans as a very, very conscious decision to shut out the conservative world view altogether or, if forced to give it air time, to misrepresent it.
Thus Barry Goldwater found himself being portrayed on the CBS News as a Nazi sympathizer. A Republican Senate move to broaden the authority of the Senate Watergate Committee to investigate not just the 1972 presidential campaign but reports of Democratic malfeasance in the presidential campaigns of 1968 and 1964 was not simply defeated in the Democratic Senate but uninvestigated completely by Cronkite's CBS.
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin could have cited a letter (PDF of it) to President Bush from Congressman Ike Skelton, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, about how "nearly every non-deployed combat brigade in the active Army is reporting that they are not ready to complete their assigned wartime mission." But instead, when asked by anchor Bob Schieffer about the “strain” on troops longer deployments in Iraq will cause, Martin cited the left-wing's favorite Democrat as his authoritative source: "Congressman Jack Murtha said today Iraq has drained the Army to the point now that the vast majority of combat brigades in the U.S. and Europe are rated at the lowest level of readiness."
Without any mention of the vicious hostility the NAACP displayed toward President Bush since he spoke before the group in 2000, including a TV ad linking Bush's refusal to sign a hate crime bill to the dragging death of a black man in Texas, the Thursday broadcast network evening newscasts portrayed Bush as the one responsible for the estrangement. All stressed how Bush's Thursday appearance before the NAACP convention was his first and all three ran soundbites only from attendees critical of him.
"It took five and a half years, but President Bush finally said yes to the NAACP,” ABC's Charles Gibson asserted, elaborating: “The President has ignored invitations throughout his presidency to speak to the civil rights group.” Martha Raddatz emphasized Bush's absences: "The White House saw this as an opportunity the President couldn't pass up. But it is an opportunity he had passed up every year since he was elected.” CBS anchor Bob Schieffer highlighted how Bush “spoke today to the NAACP for the first time in six years as President.” Jim Axelrod relayed how “prior to Katrina, he never spoke to the convention as President, but since September, he's reached out to the head of the NAACP three separate times." NBC's Brian Williams set up a story by noting how “President Bush spoke to the NAACP for the first time in his presidency.” David Gregory asserted that efforts to reach out to blacks “have failed” and “then came Katrina and charges that racism motivated the federal government's slow response.” (Transcripts follow.)
"CBS Evening News" anchor Bob Schieffer participated in a phone interview with Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute yesterday. The discussion focused on Schieffer’s view of the current situation in the Middle East and caused Schieffer to pull out an old left wing talking point about war as he lamented:
"We have made a judgment that this is extremely important because this could set off a much wider war, a war that could, if it got big enough, could cause this country, for one thing, to have to reinstitute the draft."
I suppose, theoretically, Schieffer is correct, but is his fear logical? Is there serious discussion on Capitol Hill to bring back the draft? No, in fact the last time the idea of a draft came to a vote in 2004 it received 2 votes.
Jim Murphy, who castigated the MRC as “more biased” than the mainstream media and rejected criticism in NewsBusters when he was the Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News, will soon take control of ABC's Good Morning America. Broadcasting & Cable magazine's Web site today reported that ABC's news division “is expected to name Jim Murphy...as Senior Executive Producer of Good Morning America, according to sources inside ABC News.” Murphy ran the CBS Evening News for six years, until being replaced in November.
Last September, when two NewsBusters/MRC CyberAlert items criticized biased CBS Evening News stories about President Bush and Katrina (a CBS reporter gratuitously pointed out how Bush spoke “inside an air-conditioned tent” while most were sweltering and on another night CBS uniquely highlighted a slam at the Bush administration from Jimmy Carter), CBS's Public Eye blog asked Murphy to respond and he charged that the Media Research Center “is a much more biased organization than any institution in the MSM."
The "revolving door" is a
term reporters often cynically use to talk about the close
relationships that political and lobbying people have with each
other. It's certainly true that in American politics, many people do
move readily between working in government posts to lobbying
But what many journos won't tell you is
that there's another revolving door that politicos use, from politics
to media. They also won't tell you that only Democrats seem to have
the key. The number of Republicans moving into positions of influence
inside the media is small enough you can almost count it on one hand.
And in many cases, the sheer audacity of a former Republican politico
daring to set foot in the press has caused left-wingers, journalist
and blogger alike. The recent Ben
Domenech fiasco or the disgraceful hounding that Susan
Molinari experienced after being hired as an anchor at CBS are
potent examples of this.
Before starting her new job as anchor of the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric is going on a "listening tour" of the country. As Kathleen Parker writes in the Orlando Sentinel, this looks very similar to the "listening tour" that Hillary Clinton did in New York state in preparation for her Senate run.
The decision to send Couric around the country on a "listening tour," scheduled to wrap up Monday, was a poor calculation. First off, the free-associative mind goes straight to that other trailblazing female, Hillary Clinton, who launched a listening tour before running for U.S. Senate.
Katie, Hillary, Katie, Hillary -- two liberal peas in a pod? The question burrows in the mind and wants to stay.
Now look what we've done! The global warming we've caused will ruin Napa Valley wine!
That's what CBS would have you believe as it picked up on a new study arguing pretty much that global warming will wipe out 80 percent of America's vineyards. But other global warming believers doubt the study's conclusions and vintners argue they can keep producing wine in warmer climes with improved technology.
may doom the Napa
Valley, CBS News warned
its July 12 “Evening News” audience. Yet correspondent John Blackstone excluded
any scientists, including those who otherwise believe in man-made global
warming, who warn that new computer models are conclusive or don’t match up
against recorded climate patterns.
President Bush announced some great news about the economy Tuesday, but the media weren't in any mood to celebrate. Though the budget deficit for 2006 looks to be significantly lower than forecast just five months ago, TV news outlets were quick to rain on the president's parade.
CNN's Ed Henry cynically compared this announcement to the president declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq in 2003. Meanwhile, NBC's Brian Williams downplayed the good news by stating “administration critics say the White House has deliberately inflated its own deficit projections in the past few years to score political points when the actual numbers came in lower.”
Declaring he “absolutely” believes “the truth” of his discredited story based on forged memos, about President Bush's National Guard record, on Wednesday's Larry King Live on CNN Dan Rather contended that “we had a lot, a lot of corroboration, of what we broadcast about President Bush's military record. It wasn't just the documents.” Rather then attacked those who dared to expose his misdeeds: “It's a very old technique used, that when those who don't like what you're reporting believe it can be hurtful, then they look for the weakest spot and attack it, which is fair enough. It's a diversionary technique."
A bit later, Rather played the martyr. Reminded by King of how Rather's CBS News was called “the liberal network,” Rather charged: "They call you names when you insist on being independent.” Rather proceeded to insist, clearly talking about himself, that journalists who are “willing to be truly independent, and fiercely independent when called upon, and dedicated to pulling no punches and playing no favorites have become in recent years a bit of an endangered species.” Rather even resurrected how CBS “took on” Senator McCarthy and “led in coverage of the only President in history who resigned as an unindicted co-conspirator in a widespread criminal conspiracy. Now, when you're a reporter involved in those kinds of stories on a regular basis, there are...powerful people who say we've got to get rid of this guy or...we're going to damage him up. And that's when they start hanging the signs around you."
Video clip #1, Rather "absolutely" believes Bush story "true" (43 seconds): Real (1.3 MB) or Windows Media (1.5 MB), plus MP3 audio (260 KB)
Video clip #2, Rather denounces his critics and insists he's "fiercely independent" (2:32): Real (4.4 MB) or Windows Media (5 MB at 256 kbps or 1.7 MB at 100 kbps), plus MP3 audio (900 KB)
Katie Couric is set to become the new anchor of the CBS Evening News. Before she starts her job, she is going on a "listening tour" of the country. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says that her entourage visited a city library.
The local Minneapolis CBS affiliate, WCCO, was tasked with finding a venue when Ms. Couric came to town. WCCO also served as the enforcers of the anti-blog policy.
Matt Bartel, owner of the popular MNSpeak blog also was issued an invitation by WCCO, although the station apparently didn't recognize the name Bartel (ubiquitous in Twin Cities publishing circles) or his business, until the event was about to start.
"They pulled me out of the auditorium and told me that they'd become aware of the fact that I had a blog," Bartel said. "They said, 'We don't want you to participate,' " then offered him a choice: surrender his notebook or leave the event.
Wednesday's CBS Evening News ran a story on same-sex marriage which presumed that once enacted -- “resolved” in the term used by reporter Byron Pitts -- it should not be reversed, as Pitts portrayed the issue through the prism of same-sex marriage advocates upset by a move to pass a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to make it illegal. “The battle has now moved to the only state where it is legal but where,” anchor Bob Schieffer cautioned, “if opponents have their way, it won't be for long.” Pitts demanded of Kristian Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute: "How did it get to this point? This is liberal Massachusetts. This state resolved this issue two years ago." After Mineau pointed out that unelected judges imposed same-sex marriage, Pitts trumpeted how “advocates had hoped it was the start of another Massachusetts revolution."
Pitts twice challenged the views expressed by Mineau, but didn't challenge an advocate of same-sex marriage. For instance, when Mineau complained about how “the children of this commonwealth are already radically affected because kindergarten and first-graders that are being indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle and into homosexual marriage," an appalled Pitts retorted: "You say that as if homosexuality is something evil." Over a map of the U.S., Pitts fretted: "For supporters of gay marriage nationwide, this proposed amendment in Massachusetts couldn't come at a worse time. Much of that momentum first generated here a few years ago now seems headed the other way. Nineteen states have already adopted a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Six more could have it on their ballot this November." (Transcript follows)
A year ago tomorrow, I did a post on the continued decline in evening news viewership at Big Three Networks NBC, ABC, and CBS, and made these observations and predictions about why that decline was taking place, and would continue (some of last year's text was slightly revised):
All three nightly broadcasts most likely lose money, when isolated from their morning counterparts (Today, Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show) and their documentary shows (Dateline, 60 Minutes, 20/20, etc.). At a minimum, none makes an acceptable level of profit.
BUT, the news operations of each of the Big 3 networks are very small parts of very large organizations (CBS-Viacom, NBC-GE, and ABC-Disney), so small that apparently no one at any of the three parent companies cares enough to do anything about the continued hemorrhaging in their evening new shows, as long as the news operations themselves are profitable.
So because those other parts of the news operations make money, the nightly news programs can chug right along, oblivous to normal profitability expectations.
The journalists who put together the nightly news programs could care less if the broadcasts are profitable. It's obvious that their agenda is more important.
Because of all of the above, the ever-shrinking audience for these broadcasts will be spoon-fed biased reporting, Bush bashing, and conservative-bashing for the foreseeable future.
Now, a year later, in today's story about network TV's generally low level of viewership last week (HT Drudge), the real eye-popper is not that the predicted viewership decline has occurred (that was, after all, a pretty easy prediction to make), but that it has accelerated:
"World News Tonight" averaged 7.3 million viewers and "Nightly News" had 7.2 million (both 5.1 rating, 11 share). The "CBS Evening News" averaged 6.5 million viewers (4.6, 10).
That's a big-whoop total of 21.0 million people, and is down precipitously from just the end of 2005. The deterioration is especially obvious when you compare the total and individual network numbers to the following two graphs from the 2006 State of the News Media report:
The disgust of conservatives directed at the New York Times after the newspaper on Friday again undermined national security, this time by taking the lead in exposing a program to monitor international financial transactions by terrorist operatives, hasn't much disturbed the broadcast networks. While the cable news channels have been filled with coverage, especially after President Bush on Monday called the disclosure “disgraceful,” the CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer hasn't touched the controversy -- though it has made time for stories on how at Wimbledon women are paid less prize money than men and on a left-wing (un-labeled) group's efforts to raise the minimum wage -- and other broadcast network coverage has questioned the administration's motives.
On Monday night, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell asserted that “today's coordinated White House assault is more than simply shared frustration. Analysts say there is political upside as well." Tuesday, on NBC's Today, co-host David Gregory doubted the White House, wondering “whether we should be taking their word for it. That these are legal programs, inappropriate programs. Do you think the administration has earned the right, has any administration earned the right in this kind of war to protect that kind of secret?" Chris Matthews replied: "Well not this one.” On CBS's Early Show, Harry Smith called the paper an “easy target” and suggested: "Is this just a way to attack the evil media or does he have a legitimate beef here?" Meanwhile, on Tuesday's GMA, ABC's Jessica Yellin featured New York Times reporter Eric Litchblau's insistence that “we're not trying to tilt the debate, we're not trying to influence the debate one way or the other. We're just trying to inform the public debate," as well as a great zinger from radio talk show host Scott Hennen about how the Times has become “a terrorist tip sheet."
The CBS Evening News has begun to run promos for Katie Couric's impending takeover of the anchor chair. The spots feature quick cuts, from different angles, of Bob Schieffer on the Evening News set as he assures viewers of Couric's qualifications. In the spot aired at the end of Wednesday's newscast, Schieffer promised that “she's tough, she's fair, she's a straight-shooter” and “she'll be terrific.” In Thursday's promo, Schieffer insisted: “The anchor chair will be in good hands because my friend Katie Couric will be here. Just watch." Each spot, which may also be airing across the CBS schedule, ends with a screen showing a smiling Couric on the left with “COMING IN SEPTEMBER” on the right over a stylized “CBS Evening Newswith Katie Couric” graphic. So, now we know she won't be reverting to “Katherine.” (Full text of the 10 and 15-seconds spots follow)
Of the three broadcast network evening shows Thursday night, only the NBC Nightly News reported the late Wednesday afternoon revelation by Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Peter Hoekstra, Chair of the House intelligence committee, that an unclassified portion of a National Ground Intelligence Center report had revealed that 500 munition shells of mustard and sarin gas -- weapons of mass destruction -- had been found in Iraq. NBC anchor Brian Williams teased: “One Senator's new claim that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq." Chip Reid relayed Santorum’s disclosure before downplaying the significance: “The claim quickly becomes a hot topic on cable TV and the Internet, but just as quickly Pentagon officials pour cold water on the story, telling reporters the shells are old and inactive, dating from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and that the shells are 'not the weapons of mass destruction we were looking for' when U.S. forces went into Iraq.”
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann ridiculed the finding of “WMD: weapons of minor discomfort," snidely suggesting “you might get a burn if you rub these weapons directly onto your skin.” Olbermann condescendingly marveled: “Independent experts and the level-headed staggering in amazement tonight that deteriorated mustard gas cannisters, at least 15 years old and as much as 18 years old, could be pawned off by desperate politicians as some kind of rationale for the deaths of 2,500 American servicemen and women in Iraq.” Soon enough, Olbermann raised Joe McCarthy, asking Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter: “Have Senator Santorum and Congressman Hoekstra moved directly into the league of Joe McCarthy waving the blank page that's supposed to contain the list of communists in the 50s?" (Transcripts follow)
With Katie Couric lounging in the wings, Dan Rather is now expendable, and the suits at CBS News are squeezing him out of his last remaining gig on "60 Minutes." This has caused great distress for those who like their news to look like a long commercial for MoveOn.org, which is to say, the Dan Rather fan club.
CBS smiled politely as they pushed him away, but the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted an anonymous former CBS executive, who denounced the shove-off as "disgraceful. He's a legend. He gave his life to that company. Even though he made a big mistake, he did 43 years and 11 months' great work."
If Rather’s that great, why didn’t the executive have the courage to go on the record?
Rather had a Nixonian ending, resigning from the anchor chair in disgrace after being in complete denial about his own political corruption. It’s not surprising that some will now try to rehabilitate his reputation, but they won’t have much more luck than Nixon did. Dan Rather does not have a sterling record of journalism. He is a grand example of the anchorman as a powerful and partisan national politician who never had to be elected, yet had a lot more visibility and wielded a lot more influence than most elected officials.