Dinosaur tears

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.

  • It is almost hilarious to hear old media leftists complain about the business pressure applied to journalism.

    If the networks were run by good business sense, executives would have dropped network news a long time ago – or at a minimum stopped turning off 40% of the country.

    Although corporate backed, the MSM is not run like other businesses, with a concern for profit, growth, and efficiency.

    When Jack Welch ran GE, he said that he wanted to be first or second in a business or he would exit it. Yet I still see Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Donny Deutch on television with their abysmal ratings.

    When Newsweek had their “piss Koran” incident, instead of Time, the NY Times, etc using it to tout their own journalistic integrity and grab some departing Newseek subscribers, they circled the wagons to defend Newsweek.

    The analog would be hearing Burger King defend the healthiness of McDonald’s burgers.

    I hope the rest of them suffer far worse ignominy than Dan Rather.

  • Patric C

    Think you missed the bigger point and besides got it a tad wrong as the PUBLIC were not all that involved in dissing Rather, NOT as much as many made out for sure but were the ones calling for his head. Facts beig, in truth and essence, that particular report that did him in…the one regarding Bush military service..lets face it…Other than diehard/blindeyed Bush supporters, most rather KNOW that Bush did NOT “honorably” fulfill his military NG duty time…and as the authenticity of the “paper” got THE attention, the actual report got BYPASSED…The political machinery , particularly these days , the GOP political machinery is well crafted and truly KNOWS how to RE-SPIN and cause the TRUTH to be fully obfusicated and ignorred and TRIVIA matterings become THE center stage and spotlighted and highlighted and “FRENZI-FIED”…ANother one that comes to mind, the DEAN SQUEAL , which taken OUT of context to this day gets highlighted as indication of Dean’s “instability” and glares a major innate (supposed) flaw…Lets face it….Rather got lombasted by many trying to deflect their OWN shortcomings in OPEN reportings…Think presently, they have gone overboard in self congratulating for the Katrina coverage which has “redeemed” them to some extent for presenting REALITY rather than MANUFACTURED/authorized PR spinnings…They keep excusing themselves these days saying the PUBLIC has no attention span nor wants indepts, …they are WRONG, our attention span has indeed SHORTENED due to the enormous amount of DRIBBLING SPIN…When you can hear THE SAME COPY read or printed on EACH…its rather a WHY BOTHER with intense attentionals….The repetitious nature of the “information” with LITTLE if ANYthing NEW added and SLOPPY “facts” that include manufactured copy that is allowed to roll on even thou if checked would be found NOT EXACTLY FACTUAL and borderline and often over the line and downright intentionally misleading but done to INFLUENCE the quick snap judgement by the public who take perceptionaries on the fly by’s…well PERFOECT STORM OF MISINFORMATION proliferates and few BOTHER to correct it but will JUMP if they can point a finger or eat one of their own as long as THEY go untouched but in reality have their OWN guilts to own up to!!!

  • penny

    All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms,” Rather said….

    What’s creating fear in the newsroom, as Dan should well understand as the poster boy for corrupted journalism, is that journalists and their editors are being challenged by a public that can now hunt down the facts or lack of them. Before the internet it wasn’t a level playing field.

    And, of course, Nevin trots out that hackneyed myth of “the religious right” oppression as if any conservative or religious entity has or could stem the tide of the explosive growth of the porn industry, vile song lyrics, the sexualization of young girls by retailers and advertisers, teen pregnancy and drug use or any of the other rot in our culture.

  • John

    Dan’s ego doesn’t let him believe a bunch of people with nothing but weblogs can go out and find information that is accurate, in part because he doesn’t grasp the portability of information thanks to the arrival of the Internet. He’s still living in the days of card catalogues and file folders, where getting a look at documents to check their accuracy required an actual trip to the site, instead of clicking on a .pdf file and then matching it up to a Microsoft Word duplication.

    Since Rather thinks only an organization like CBS News has the resoruces to do something like this, the bloggers’ information can’t be accuate. And since it’s so hard to gather news, the bloggers can’t have developed that sort of initiative on their own — they must either be getting stuff fed to them by Dan’s enemies, or they’re actually part of the conspiracy themselves

  • Sumner Redstone said the other day that while he supports the Democrats personally, he felt the Republicans would be better for his business and his duty was to the stockholders. The implication is that the news is being “adjusted” to achieve this aim.

    William Paley would never have done or thought that, nor David Sarnoff. The elephant in the room is that the major networks are industrial enterprises and work to enhance their interests. Blaming the reporters may make people feel good, but doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

    That’s why the blogosphere may free up newsgathering (at least for a while). The sites are not generally part of corporate entitites and can pursue things to their logical endings.

    Reporters either follow corporate policy or don’t work there any more. A great choice…

  • It’s almost sad to watch Mr Rather oblivously embarrass himself everytime he opens his mouth.

    His arrogance is breathtaking, and it’s hard to believe that it can be chalked up to ignorance. It’s a blatant, stubborn denile of what he knows to be true – that he got burned – and that the new-media (which he calls dumbed-down) is smarter than ever. It has to be, or it will get called out on it’s oversight.

    I actually don’t mind this. I encourage it. Keep talking, Dan. Keep showing us how effective our new medium is and how inefficient and echo-chamber like yours was.

  • Brian

    I am disappointed to see Dan going before audiences at this point, after leaving the Evening News, to be critical of the news business/process. He had years to take a stand against the “chase for ratings and demo’s” and try to recreate the golden years of Paley’s patronage. Dan happily accepted his responsibility and his paycheck under the new journalism order, and was there as it was created, thereby making him partly responsible for it.

    If my memory serves me correctly, Dan was newly installed in Cronkite’s chair when Van Gordon Sauter was executive producer of the Evening News. Van came from Los Angeles, my hometown, and brought to the network news show an emphasis on using pictures to bring an emotional and/or entertaining element to stories. It was under his tutelage that CBS began to blur the lines and lose its objectivity. Dan went along with everything, always prepared to rationalize his boss’s editorial decisions.

    He’s a sycophant.

  • J

    What’s amazing is how thin skinned these folks are – especially given the industry they’re in. Rather crying because he can no longer just make stuff up and put it on the air without being called on it is sad and comical at the same time. And getting (hypothetical) hate mail over a (hypothetical) documentary makes it “revolutionary”? What’s revolutionary, and probably deserving of a lifetime achievment award for Nevins, is her innovation of calling soft porn a “documentary” to make it more palatable to the viewers.

  • paladin

    I love the sound of dinosaurs screaming in the tar pits.

  • Dexter Westbrook

    If you have a story that is well-researched and true, you don’t have to worry about “pressure” from anybody.

    Dan Rather’s story was a tissue of lies, constructed upon forgeries.

    That was his disease. Pressure from bloggers, etc. was just a symptom.

  • DBL

    Patric C – I guess you’re rehashing the “fake but true” defense of Rather. Rather amusing, I must say, old chap. Here in the reality-based community, however, we prefer our news to be true and accurate, whether it’s for or against us.

  • Hank Bradley

    The ‘fake but true’ mantra pales beside Rather’s braying about speaking truth to power.

    It was the bloggers who so embarrassed the Dan Rather of MSM power, by confronting him with such obvious truth that even the power of his whole network couldn’t suppress the glee the public had at watching Charles Johnson’s irrefutable alternating graphic – Rather’s text vs Microsoft Word. Rather’s text was counterfeit, and everyone could see it.

    Look in the mirror, Dan. You once had exclusive use of the microphone, no one had the means to reply, and you had no accountability for shading the truth to produce your desired shifts of public opinion. Now we all have microphones, and Dan the bully has run home to mommy.

  • jeff daniels

    Overlooked, as always, is the work done by military journalists concerning Bush’s National Guard Service. The military journalist I read concluded that Bush gamed the system by never taking his drug test, disobeying orders, and not fulfilling his duty. A million dollars was spent to train Bush as a pilot and that money was thrown down the drain.
    Go on and on about fonts and typesets, but the truth is in front of all of us.
    History will judge the smearing of a war hero to facilitate a deserter.

  • Hank Bradley

    War hero? Kerry a WAR HERO??? Cutting his tour of duty in the battle zone to an absolute minimum is heroic? Shooting one guy in the back is heroic? Lying about Christmas in Cambodia is heroic? Lying to Congress about what beasts the US military were in Vietnam is heroic?

    Give us a break.

  • Old Grouch

    “The military journalist I read…”

    Links, Jeff?

  • owl 1

    This reminds me of Katrina. Fake but true on almost all the media hype surrounding the first 5 days. Dan Rather never believed the facts. He doesn’t to this day. It doesn’t matter if the General in charge says it is not true. It doesn’t matter if the wife of the dead man says it is not true. It doesn’t matter if the son said his father thought a lot of Bush. It doesn’t matter if Bush’s commander says he actually volunteered for Vietnam. Real people still alive, willing to testify. It doesn’t matter if the memos are fakes on computers. Dan still believes it. Too sad.

    J Daniels and Patric C still believe it. JD got it from military? Kerry knows about war, he was in Vietnam. Told me every time I saw him for 2 years. Shame 250+ Vietnam vets signed sworn statements about that media darling. This says more about Dan and the media. I have never heard Bush tout his service one time. They chase and promote the AWOL without one firm confirmed fact, but the 250+ vets could not get one fair article.