CBS News – Still clueless.

The New York Times has a rather odd story that says basically nothing new. Which is especially ironic considering the headline is “CBS Tries to Clear Up Signals on Future of ‘Evening News'”

The only thing the story really accomplishes is to show us how clueless CBS still is.

Dan Rather’s acknowledgment that he erred in broadcasting a recent “60 Minutes” report about President Bush’s National Guard service has further complicated two of the most delicate questions in television news: when will Mr. Rather relinquish the anchor chair of “The CBS Evening News,” and to whom?

CBS has never disclosed a timetable for replacing Mr. Rather, who turns 73 next month and who has been the anchor of the nightly news since March 1981. But in the weeks before Sept. 8, when the Wednesday edition of “60 Minutes” broadcast its report based on documents it now says cannot be authenticated, officials atop the network and its news division had begun discussing a transition plan, a network executive said late last week. [Well, isn’t that just convenient -ed]

The options under consideration include having Mr. Rather step down sometime next spring, perhaps near the end of the prime-time season in May, giving his replacement the relatively low-profile summer months to find his or her bearings, said the executive, who requested anonymity out of fear of being fired at a time of turmoil at CBS News. But no date had been fixed.

An interesting idea. If they announce his retirement soon it makes his critics look bloodthirsty and irrational if they call for it anything sooner. Still, it gives enough time to groom a replacement and make it look like it was their idea all along.

Just when you think CBS might get it… They take a turn for the worse…

Depending on how damaging the final report is to Mr. Rather, it could hasten his departure – or it could extend his stay at the anchor desk, particularly if the network decides that it cannot make a move until the controversy over the guard report has sufficiently cooled.

They still don’t get it… The controversy over the guard story will not “cool” unless the guilty parties are asked to step down. CBS still thinks nothing is wrong and they can just go on, business as usual. They don’t realize they put a Dan Rather shaped hole in their own battleship.

When CNN screwed up, everyone involved was axed. When NBC planted explosives on a truck to make it look like it blew up by itself, everyone involved was shown the door. For the credibility of news organizations everywhere, Rather and Co. need to go.

The final decision on Mr. Rather’s future is expected to rest with two people: Andrew Heyward, the president of CBS News, and Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS…

Heh- They are operating under the insular assumption that Heyward will remain. That’s not a safe bet. This happened on his watch and even more damning, he partook in the cover-up. From this vantage point in time it seems unfathomable that the “panel” will find Heyward performed his job honorably.

Under the terms of Mr. Rather’s most recent contract, which expires at the end of 2006, he serves as anchor of the evening news at the network’s pleasure. Mr. Heyward said in an interview last year that whether as anchor or not, Mr. Rather was “going to be at CBS News for many years to come,” most likely in some capacity at “60 Minutes.”

They don’t understand when you blow a story this big, this bad– and more importantly when you defend it with dime-store ‘experts’ you dug up out of the comments section of Kevin Drum’s blog– you are officially damaged goods. Think- Jayson Blain. Think- Stephen Glass. Think- Game Over.

They think they are being unfairly picked on by right-wing internet users, when in reality they have committed the journalistic equivalent of premeditated homicide.

One longtime colleague of Mr. Rather’s said that a date of great meaning to Mr. Rather had long been March 2006, when he would celebrate his 25th anniversary in the anchor chair. The colleague suggested that that date had taken on more significance during the fallout of the last few weeks.

They have now entered that fantasy land John Kerry keeps talking about. If Rather is allowed to stay on, the network will have a wholesale loss of viewers. Their little remaining credibility will be shot.

They are in a most untenable position. If their (2 person) “panel” comes back and says everyone needs to fired, CBS will be hard pressed to ignore them. If the “panel” says they did nothing wrong, then CBS will be accused of manipulating the panel or picking people who knowingly hated Karl Rove.

One day, and in the not too distant future, CBS will hve to admit they blew it and that -worse- they covered it up. Until then, talk of Dan Rather staying on is just fantasy.

We'd Rather lose 3 times than win twice.
This Is Bad News?


  1. david September 27, 2004
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  10. Stephen Walker September 28, 2004