Dan Rather’s Suit Against CBS Will Be Fun

Dan Rather is suing CBS for breach of contract related to his firing in 2004. The suit revolves around the reporting of George Bush’s evasion of service in the Texas Air National Guard. As the case gets closer to a trial date, new stirrings are emerging from Rather’s camp that offer a tantalizing preview of what may be revealed in court. The Guardian reports that Rather contends that his reporting was true and that…

“…CBS succumbed to political pressure from conservatives to get the report discredited and to have him fired. He also claims that a panel set up by CBS to investigate the story was packed with conservatives in an effort to placate the White House.

The claim as to the panel was in fact documented and showed that CBS actually considered the likes of Robert Novak, Tucker Carlson, Pat Buchanan, Matt Drudge, William Kristol, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, to sit in judgment of Rather. Talk about a hangin’ jury…..

Rather goes on to be fairly specific about CBS’ motivations and he asserts that they were attempting to mollify the Bush administration in order to get more favorable regulatory treatment. In addition to his claims about Bush’s military non-service, Rather reveals that CBS also tried to bury a story on the human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. He contends that the network refused permission to air the story for weeks and, when it did air, they crippled it by denying it any promotion and took other measures to suppress viewership. This was also at the request of government overseers.

Rather is a little late to this party. Many industry observers have known for years that the big media conglomerates were shaping their reporting in order to please their benefactors in government agencies as well as in Congress. But it’s still better to have Rather arrive late than not at all. When this case makes its way to court there may be even more revelations. I can’t wait. It’s just too bad that it took a lawsuit by an embittered former anchor for these allegations to surface. You have to wonder how many similar acts of journalistic malpractice and government collusion with media have occurred but remain the secrets of people who are still protecting their jobs and their associates in Washington.


2 thoughts on “Dan Rather’s Suit Against CBS Will Be Fun

  1. Mark,

    You are miring this issue in politics. If Rather used tainted sources and directed his news department to run a lead story based on tainted sources, then he SHOULD be fired. That would be the standard operating procedure for any newsroom across the nation. Just because he’s the great Dan Rather (Oh! Boom! Crash Shake!) shouldn’t buy him any immunity.

    So lets cut away the politics from this issue.

    Did Dan use tainted sources to run a lead story?
    Yes: Keep him fired. Fight the suit.
    No: Give him an apology and some money.

    But CBS will never re-hire him as anchor. There’s an insider cleche: ‘Broadcasting is a field that eats it’s own young.’ Dan is too old to attract viewers anymore. He’s no Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. Dan’s just a crybaby who doesn’t understand the nature of the field he’s worked in for over forty years.

    Have a good week.

    Jim Boyd

    P.S. Mark… Dammit!!! STOP BEING SUCH A GOOD WRITER!!! I find I’m becoming addicted to your column and ignoring my work to read yours! Stop it! Stop it! STOP IT!!

    • Thanks for the kind words, but I will NOT stop. 😉

      As for Rather, I really don’t care about him or his fate. I think he thoroughly mishandled the Bush draft-dodging story. When the documents he cited were challenged, he shouldn’t have wasted time defending them. He should have reiterated that, even if the docs were fake, the story was true. He let Bush off the hook despite there being plenty of evidence of his evasion of service.

      What I am concerned about is the probability of there being many more instances of media colluding with government to advance their own interests. I am looking forward to the trial because of the potential for disclosing that sort of activity – not because I want Rather to get his job back.

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