NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield on MSNBC
Today in the 4:00 et hour, and later replayed in the 6:00 et hour, NewsBusters executive editor Matt Sheffield will speak with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC.
They will discuss Dan Rather's new career as a TV host for Mark Cuban, the controversial billionaire owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks and owner of HDNet, a small network for high definition televisions sets. Rather will host his own show on the network.
Post your comments as you watch the 6:00 ET replay.
DAN RATHER: I made a mistake. I didn't dig hard enough, long enough. I didn't ask enough of the right questions, and trusted a source who changed his story, turns out he misled us, lied to us about one thing. But no excuses. This is not a day for excuses. I made a mistake, we made a mistake and I'm sorry for it.
TUCKER CARLSON: Welcome back. That was Jimmy Swaggart -- excuse me, Dan Rather almost two years ago apologizing for his role on a discredited report on President Bush's National Guard service. That moment marked the beginning of the end of his long career at CBS News. Well now, Rather is back with a new series on HDNet, the high definition cable network co-founded by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, but the question remains, was Rather a target of the organized right or was he just a sloppy journalist?
Joining me here to answer that question, Matthew Sheffield, he's the executive editor of NewsBusters.org, also the co-founder of RatherBiased.com. Matthew Sheffield, thanks for coming on.
MATTHEW SHEFFIELD: Thanks for having me, Tucker.
CARLSON: So conservatives have been after Rather for lo these many decades. A lot of liberals in the press, why Dan Rather? I mean how do we know Dan Rather is a screaming liberal?
SHEFFIELD: Well, you just look at what he says quite honestly. I mean, if you compare what he says about Republicans and you compare what he says about Democrats, he pretty muc--the only bad thing he ever says about Democrats is they're not liberal enough, and he said that about Bill Clinton when he did welfare reform. He was like, so he's pushing a law that, by anyone's analysis, is going to put poor children into the streets. And then with you look at what he says about Republicans, they're evil, they're taking over the world, they're destroying the constitution blah blah blah.
CARLSON: So in other words, you're inferring from his comments, what you believe are editorial comments, his political views, his own political views.
CARLSON: But has he ever come out and said I'm a Democrat, I support Democrats, has he ever been more explicit about it.
SHEFFIELD: Well, he actually did when he was in college, he was the editor of a student paper there and he wrote a column and he said 'why I am a Democrat.' Democrats are the party of the people, and he just went on a long spiel about that, and nobody has ever actually confronted him about that on the air, those former statements. And everybody who knows him, at CBS, we had a number of people over the years contact us, and they agreed very much that Dan was liberal, even though he would never admit it.
CARLSON: Right. And of course he spoke at a Democratic Party fund raiser in Texas all that long ago.
CARLSON: Now, to the incident that effectively ended his career in broadcast television, did he ever concede, we just played the sort of apology a minute ago, but did he ever concede that the report, the documents that he used to attack Bush's service in the National Guard, or lack of it, that they were phony, did he ever admit that? Was it a made up story?
SHEFFIELD: No, he actually never has admitted that outright. He said–the official line is the document 'cannot be authenticated.' And that, you know, can mean anything other than -- that can mean that they're true, we think they're true, it can mean they're false, it can mean we think they're true, but we couldn't prove they're true. I mean it's a very legalistic denial, really. A non-apology apology.
CARLSON: Right. But we know I think conclusively, I believe conclusively, in any case that they were false. Is this such a bad idea, though, that he's going to HDNet. I mean the complaint has always been the big three networks are liberal and they come into our houses, we don't pay for them, they force themselves upon us, they push their point of view on us and we resent it, and therefore we create Fox News or whatever, but this has always been the complaint, correct? But this is really narrowcasting. I mean, this is essentially going to be a service, if you're liberal and you want to watch Dan Rather, you pay for it and you can, or you pull him up and you can. That's not bad, is it?
SHEFFIELD: Well, more power to him, but it just shows that, you know, that's the kind of audience that he has left. I mean if you look at the ratings for"CBS Evening News," over the -- over his tenure, there was a steady trend downward and after he left, the ratings have gone back up. So I mean there's probably some people out there that would want to watch that, but I somehow suspect that they're not out buying HD tvs.
CARLSON: I guess we'll get a chance to see. Matthew Sheffield, thanks a lot for joining us.