So much for free speech

So the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric it cutting down its so-called Free Speech segments (and I’ll bet they’ll be dead altogether before long).

I recorded a Free Speech segment and I bet as I made it that it would never run. Reason: I talked about Dan Rather. I shot it the first week Couric was on the show. It’s now mid-November, so I think it’s now a sure thing that it won’t air. They said they were waiting for a peg. I think that peg was global cooling in hell. They also would not send me a copy of the segment to show my CUNY students (contrasting that with the version I made using the same script) because it would violate CBS policy. One is amazed that they apparently have a policy for everything.

Here’s what I was going to say on CBS but can still say here, thanks to the free speech of the blog. My 1:30 script:

The war is over. No, not that war. I mean the war between mainstream media and bloggers.
It never really was a fight – because we are on the same side. We all want the truth:
When bloggers called Dan Rather on errors in 2004, he dismissed them as partisan operatives. But when bloggers recently exposed faked photos from Beirut, Reuters thanked them.
So we are making progress.
Together, professional and amateur journalists can gather and share more news than ever. Bloggers just forced two senators to admit they were secretly blocking a reform bill. And bloggers goaded Dell and Apple into recalling burning batteries. Dell, which once ignored bloggers, now blogs itself.
See, it doesn’t hurt. Bloggers are just people talking. We are your viewers, your voters, your customers, your neighbors.
Now that we, the people, are armed with our own printing presses, old media have nothing to fear and everything to gain – so long as they’re wise enough to trust us.
Trust us to be smart; if you can’t, then what’s the point of democracy?
Listen to us and what we truly care about – and that’s not endless Jon Benet.
And let us share your best reporting: The networks should be fighting to get the most stories watched on YouTube – for those are the stories that are part of our conversation….
Just because newspapers and networks are shrinking, that doesn’t mean journalism must whither. No, we have to expand the definition of news and change the role of the journalist from oracle on the mountaintop to member of our community.
We’re in this together.

The CBS idea was doomed for a number of reasons. For one, they made much too much hooha about producing the segments; I wrote about that here, comparing the dozen or so people it took for them to produce this segment for the cutting-room floor vs. what it took for me to produce it in my den. For another reason, as Howie Kurtz reports, the rest of the CBS News structure was jealous of any seconds giving to outside voices. But most of all, it was controlling in the old media way. They had to approve what I was going to write about. They went back and forth on whether I could mention Rather. They were in control. That aint’ free speech.

For a better model — one that still doesn’t go far enough but at least heads farther in the right direction — see the BBC’s Newsnight, its major nightly news show, telling people to produce their own segments and send them in — or actually, just post them on YouTube or Blip or such and send in the link. That means that you don’t need the BBC to show your opinion; you’ll broadcast before they do. The editors will pick the best, in their judgment, and then the public will decide what makes it to air: The Survivor of News. They will get our more unvarnished, unproduced, uncontrolled voices. That’s closer to free speech.

  • http://kempton.ideasRevolution.com Kempton

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for sharing your CBS sadly-never-will-be-aired 1:30 script/segment with us. (I don’t know was it just me, but CBS has lost much of its halo since the 60 minutes Tobacco “Insider” story thing.) And for your insight on what BBC’s Newsnight is trying over the pond. Cutting edge stuff.

    Cheers,
    Kempton
    Canada

  • Pingback: » Trying to create scarcity won’t save newspapers » Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog » Blog Archive

  • http://dotnetjunkies.com/WebLog/paul/default.aspx paul

    It would have been great to see you read that on the CBS Evening News; they should aggregate a few hundred blogs to be sourced for stories.

  • mikenyc

    I’d argue it wasn’t only your mention of Rather that got you bumped. It was that very few people care about what you said.

  • mike turner

    I wonder at such odd claims. First, the response to Rather was not honest, if it were VP Cheney would have resigned over the repeated public use of forged intelligence documents to push the invasion of Iraq. No, despite the spin, Rather stood with military veterans such as myself who fiind the reality of Bush’s use of the National Guard pilot’s training, excused release, & vanished records as totally unexceptable. Furthermore, as far as causality is concerned the demand is on Republican operatives to refute suspicions & not the other way around. The disappearance of criminal records in Texas only aludes to covert acts to mislead.
    Covert acts well within the job description of Pere Bush who grew cozy with the pros at CIA. The same pere who negotiated in secret with the Ayatollah, while Ronald Reagan repeated the mantra “America shall not negotiate with terrorists.”
    All the facts point to the mix of business with politics. Real reporters know for some people deception is the bread of life. Dan Rather pushed daddy Bush about his dirty deals & the gang was waiting to chop off his head. Now HISTORY will show what a poor poor bit of tragedy baby Bush’s Iraq adventure shall be. Look….it poppa B’s cowboys, riding to the rescue. At LEAST Rather tried to stop this con-job.

  • http://marginalizingmorons.blogspot.com/ CaptiousNut

    I am surprised they give mike turner internet access from that padded room. I guess it’s cheaper than the anti-depressants.

    This is a great post. It succinctly and elegantly shows how Jurassic Big Media is.

  • Tex Lovera

    Yeah, Rather tried to stop this con job on Iraq. By using faked documents. Not about Bush’s Iraq policy, but about Bush’s TANG record from 35 years ago. To try to get Kerry elected.

    Makes sense to me!

  • Jim C.

    Jeff wrote, “the [BBC] editors will pick the best, in their judgment”

    There’s the rub. It won’t be the best unless it fits their bias.

    mike turner wrote, “the response to Rather was not honest”.

    Complete B.S. Why did Rather go with a piece of evidence that his own experts said they couldn’t verify? He sacrificed his integrity decisively (if not for the first time) by using it to give maximum impact. He bet his credibility that his deception would not be detected and lost. He should have been fired immediately. He deserves no defense and no public air time now.

  • http://bongojournalist.blogspot.com/ HSD

    I wouldn’t be too hard on Mike Turner. You get irrational like that after shock treatments.

  • http://paterzplace.blogspot.com Don Meaker

    Important to note: with pilots coming back from Vietnam, TANG pilots trained in an obsolete aircraft (F-102) would be significantly excess. Bush’s TANG superiors would see the writing on the wall, and solicit volunteers that wanted to go off active flight status.

    The Army National Guard has a couple of reasons for existance, and these reasons vary in importance depending on the national security situation.

    When GW Bush started, TANG was to provide continental air defense while the US Air Force regulars were deployed. As Vietnam wound down, the priority changed to providing a place for experienced combat pilots returning from Vietnam, so those experienced pilots could train the next generation.

  • http://jimtreacher.com Jim Treacher

    I’d argue it wasn’t only your mention of Rather that got you bumped. It was that very few people care about what you said.

    Then why did CBS ask him to do it in the first place?

  • penny

    CBS, they are still on the air? I’m amused. Their core demographic is the vacuous geriatirc too habituated and brain dead to change their dinner habits. If their was ever a network that needed to be mercifully put down, CBS is it.

    Putting weathergirl bimbo Couric in the big seat says it all about CBS and their committment to substance.

    CBS is Dan Rather. Free speech has never been a CBS or MSM objective. What doesn’t fit the agenda gets edited. God forbid that equal time is allocated to an issue, especially if the “wrong message” is articulate and fact laden. Can’t have that, can we.

    The hubris and stupidity of the MSM, it’s agenda driven drivel and shallow production pieces can’t die fast enough.

    Hey, mike turner, yadda, yadda, yadda……but, Dan Rather is gone. Hello!!! There was a reason. Bad documents. Bad story. Even the slugs at CBS couldn’t fix that for him.

  • Russell C.

    Mike Turner said “No, despite the spin, Rather stood with military veterans such as myself who fiind the reality of Bush’s use of the National Guard pilot’s training, excused release, & vanished records as totally unexceptable. Furthermore, as far as causality is concerned the demand is on Republican operatives to refute suspicions & not the other way around.”

    The problems with this are many, but two stand out for me. One is that in America one is presumed innocent untill proven guilty. They can’t prove what they want to be true, so they substitute accusation for fact and demand that the accused prove otherwise. The other is the blatant call to authority, “military veterans” agree with me, you disagree with me so you’re wrong. Why not just say “God said so!” and be done with it.

  • http://imao.us spacemonkey

    Then why did CBS ask him to do it in the first place?

    Who can guess the mind of a women or a major news service.

  • Orbit Rain

    “When bloggers called Dan Rather on errors in 2004, he dismissed them as partisan operatives. But when bloggers recently exposed faked photos from Beirut, Reuters thanked them.
    So we are making progress.”

    It’s not free speech if they won’t let you speak the truth. “The truth” isn’t always congruent with how they wish to shape the world….how they portray the world.

  • scarshapedstar

    Has Free Speech featured even a token liberal/Democrat yet? I stopped counting a while back.

  • Mark Wilson

    This is an excellent idea for the networks to try —

    “And let us share your best reporting: The networks should be fighting to get the most stories watched on YouTube – for those are the stories that are part of our conversation”

    I think if a news show could get three such stories per newscast their ratings would increase dramatically. I might start watching and I haven’t watched an evening newscast in something like 15 years (or longer).

  • http://www.scint-stinks.com lowell keef jr.

    Just recently , I learned how it feels to alert the press to a civil rights issue and have them decide , if its’s to dirty they will ignore it and hope it goes away. I will not go away , you my decide it’s just to dirty or possibly that it’s just to dirty to be true . In Coos County Or. we had a school bus driver
    who was diagnosed Bi-Polar , had a ten year history of alcohol abuse and testified she did not take medication and yet she became an agent for law enforcement in a drug sting operation involving 24 citizens and one person was accquitted and another found not guilty . Just how did two people get off in one of law enforcements most tightly controled operations ? I am posting court documents at my web-site http://www.scint-stinks.com and I intend to expose this hoax online . Please visit if you really believe in free speech .

  • http://www.elementarychef.com Trudy W. Schuett

    Funny how things evolve differently at the local level. Just yesterday I attended a meeting with my local CBS affilate, KSWT, who has initiated a section of their website called Community Correspondents.
    http://www.communitycorrespondent.com/kswt/index.php

    They’re encouraging everybody to post whatever they like!

    So we’ll see how that goes. Right now it looks pretty good.

  • http://rhhardin.blogspot.com Ron Hardin

    MSM news is a business. Their product is not news, but is you. They sell you to advertisers.

    The largest reliable audience demographic happens to come for soap opera news, so that’s what is delievered.

    There is no other viable business model.

    People say they want hard news, but they don’t. They only watch for one-off spectaculars, not every day, and so cannot fund the news business.

    The smaller but still large soap opera audience comes every day, news or no news, so long as there is a soap story line.

    Fit your minute of free speech into something that will not challenge soap opera women, and they’ll air it.

    Truth is not the goal. Audience is.

  • http://spaceygreview.blogspot.com/ Grayson

    Penny is starting to sound more and more like Ann Coulter. Where ‘yo blog be, grrrll?

  • ConservaDad

    scarshapedstar Says:

    Has Free Speech featured even a token liberal/Democrat yet? I stopped counting a while back.

    How about the “divine Ms. Couric” who has the platform each and every night? Does she count? Isn’t the purpose of that segmane to give an opportunity to those who may not agree with what is presented on the news?

    Jim Treacher Says:

    Then why did CBS ask him to do it in the first place?

    Did they ask him to address a specific topic or merely ask him to submit something of his choice for their consideration for the Free Speech clip?

  • Jack Haley

    Some years ago I heard that a journalism school (Vanderbilt I think) was reviewing CBS Nightly News (Cronkite’s Show) to see if they could identify a shift in Vietnam reporting from positive to negative and establish a link between what was being put out over the network and public opinion. I heard that CBS sued the University for copyright violation to shut the study down. If this is true — then wat is the free speach point – now?

  • http://dadmanly.blogspot.com Dadmanly

    I’ve been keeping an eye on the FS segment since doing a taping for them the week before Katie opened. “As an Iraqi War Vet, how about you give us a summary of how you feel about Iraq in 90 seconds?”

    I haven’t posted the before and after edit versions, although my experience with their Senior Producer was very positive, editing for time only, and frankly, I need a good editor.

    As yours, mine will probably never run. I’m glad Wade Zirkel made it on, at least they had one Iraqi war Vet. I was glad to see Rudy Guliani, one pro-life advocate.

    As to “no liberals,” please. The Editor of the Nation was on, also Howard Dean, various advocates for one nanny project or another, and of course the weekly Bob Schieffer pieces.

  • Guy Love

    Spiking your segment is a perfect example of why the old media is heading for the dust bin of history. The irony of the situation is that it was their much promoted free speech segment. I have never seen an industry so determined to kill itself. Do these guys running CBS ever extract themselves from their cocoon to see what the real world is up to?

  • djangone

    Maybe they ditched your schtick because the subject of blog triumphalism is about as shallow as the rain puddles on an average Phoenix day. And arguments built around Dan Rather in 2006 are even less timely than dancing around with a crunk cup. Or maybe it was simply because you don’t have much credibility remaining and come off as a thin, callow, marshmallow-spined careerist.

  • media guy atlanta

    get ready folks. CBS News ia about to be produced by CNN. CBS execs at TV City on the West Coast is tired of propping up that division.. CBS News is losing money and CBS can save a ton by letting CNN produce their 4 hours a day. NBC has cut back at NBC news. ABC will probably follow. Had MSNBC been successful enough NBC might have not lost personnel but hell I see game shows on CNBC now. CNBC is their only successful cable news outfit and even they have to run game shows in prime time. Rupert Murdoch is the true genius at publishing and TV news. He knows the formula here and all over the world. He’s a lib who supports Hillary and he doesn’t let his political leanings effect his netowrks or publications.. Ted Turner and Time Warner could learn something from Rupert.

  • http://jimtreacher.com Jim Treacher

    “Maybe they ditched your schtick because the subject of blog triumphalism is about as shallow as the rain puddles on an average Phoenix day. And arguments built around Dan Rather in 2006 are even less timely than dancing around with a crunk cup. Or maybe it was simply because you don’t have much credibility remaining and come off as a thin, callow, marshmallow-spined careerist.”

    Why so grouchy?

  • media guy atlanta

    I thought the election outcome would cheer the kool-aid drinkers up.. I guess not! Jim and Mike isn’t it funny how civil we can be yet you guys have to throw some names out at us and not talk about the FACTS. Documents were fake, Rather was canned and they have found WMD in Iraq. Bush did not lie and people have died! A lot of liberals for years spoke of containing Saddam and that was when Clinton was in the oval orifice.. er office. After 2000 their tone changed because their hatred got the best of them.. I look forward to the libs in power and when our taxes are raised, gas prices are “fixed” and then sky rocket, terrorists strike again over here and the FBI and CIA won’t be able to communicate let’s see what the electorate calls for in 2008. It will be a lot of fun to watch. Rudy? McCain? Hillary Healthcare? who will be next? I think the culture of corruption will strike again, Pelosi, Murtha and his kid lobbyist, Reid and his real estate deals and his kid lobbyists will all come back and bite them like it did the Repubs.. Vote Libertarian! Right now they are making the most sense out of anyone. Have a great day!

  • Zac Rivera

    Fascinating post, Jeff. If memory serves, I think the BBC has been inviting its viewers to submit “Video Diaries” for some years now. Not necessarily for news programming, though, so the Newsnight segment is an interesting development.

  • Carson Bennett

    CBS may have rights to the material you developed for them (or not?), but even if they do, you could make a “free speech” segment for YouTube discussing your “free speech” segment for CBS. The rants about Rather and Bush are not to the point — whatever one’s opinion on these specifics, the issue was the freedom on “free speech” to say so. A YouTube presentation would be a neat wrap on this.

  • BobH

    Yes, it must be censorship, or bias, or head-in-the-sand mentality. As always with Jeff, it couldn’t be that what he has to say is repetitive, banal and just not interesting.

  • Pingback: BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » Now it’s a converstation

  • http://stevegarfield.com steve garfield

    Hi Jeff,
    Can you upload that to blip.tv with a sayittokatie tag

    Say it to Katie explained here: http://sayittokatie.com

    Your readers are welcome to upload segments too.
    Thanks,
    –Steve

  • Pingback: BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » The condescending interactivity of network news

  • Pingback: BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » Exploding TV: The BBC hands over its air

  • Pingback: BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » Say it to CBS and the world

  • Pingback: Synyx » Local News Station Questions Your Right to Free Speech.

  • Pingback: BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » I’m not ready for prime time