Dan Rather gets all weepy at a Fordham speech:
Addressing the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, occasionally forcing back tears, he said that in the intervening years, politicians “of every persuasion” had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a “new journalism order.”
He said this pressure — along with the “dumbed-down, tarted-up” coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics — has taken its toll on the news business. “All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms,” Rather said….
[HBO documentary boss Shiela] Nevin asked Rather if he felt the same type of repressive forces in the Nixon administration as in the current Bush administration.
“No, I do not,” Rather said. That’s not to say there weren’t forces trying to remove him from the White House beat while reporting on Watergate; but Rather said he felt supported by everyone above him, from Washington bureau chief Bill Small to then-news president Dick Salant and CBS chief William S. Paley.
“There was a connection between the leadership and the led . . . a sense of, ‘we’re in this together,”‘ Rather said. It’s not that the then-leadership of CBS wasn’t interested in shareholder value and profits, Rather said, but they also saw news as a public service. Rather said he knew very little of the intense pressure to remove him in the early 1970s because of his bosses’ support.
Nevins took up the cause for Rather, who was emotional several times during the event.
“When a man is close to tears discussing his work and his lip quivers, he deserves bosses who punch back. I feel I would punch back for Dan,” Nevins said.
Dan, face it: The pressure to get rid of you came from the newly empowered public and from not a few journalists who believe you messed up.