Skip to comments.Emotional Rather blasts 'new journalism order'
Posted on 09/19/2005 8:36:17 PM PDT by aculeus
NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.
Rather famously tangled with President Nixon and his aides during the Watergate years while Rather was a hard-charging White House correspondent.
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.
Rather was accompanied by HBO Documentary and Family president Sheila Nevins, both of whom were due to receive lifetime achievement awards at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards on Monday evening.
Nevins said that even in the documentary world, there's a certain kind of intimidation brought to bear these days, particularly from the religious right.
"If you made a movie about (evolutionary biologist Charles) Darwin now, it would be revolutionary," Nevins said. "If we did a documentary on Darwin, I'd get a thousand hate e-mails."
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.
Rather praised the coverage of Hurricane Katrina by the new generation of TV journalists and acknowledged that he would have liked to have reported from the Gulf Coast. "Covering hurricanes is something I know something about," he said.
"It's been one of television news' finest moments," Rather said of the Katrina coverage. He likened it to the coverage of President Kennedy's assassination in 1963.
"They were willing to speak truth to power," Rather said of the coverage.
Rather sidestepped the question of what should happen to the evening news in the expected makeover. "Not my call," he said. And he said he hadn't been asked, either.
"I gave it everything I had, I didn't hold anything back. I did the best newscast we were capable of doing," Rather said.
Nevins, who almost single-handedly has kept the art of the independent documentary on television, said the HBO documentaries show real life and do it with as little damage to the subjects as possible. She said the producers and directors "respect mostly the people on the other side of the camera."
Nevins said she didn't shy away from such R-rated topics as "G-String Divas" and "Taxicab Confessions" but noted that sex and passion have been topics of literature since Chaucer's day. "The most R-rated is a body bag, not a naked body," Nevins said.
who gives a crap what that old, bitter fool has to say?
who gives a crap what that old, bitter fool has to say?
The old order was dying. It was beginning to create rather than report the news. Too bad he held on unnecessarily. Too bad he actively and obviously tried to turn an election by reporting falsehoods.
This guy somehow thinks he is some kind of expert on world events. Sad.
I think it's funny, course they are both jokes.
No, it just means your time is over...step aside.
Be afraid, you com-symp socialist fraud and fellow marxist propgandist perverts, be very afraid.
HAHAHA I got a great kick out of this Nevins being responsible for "G-String Divas" and "Taxicab Confessions". Both are just straight out leering soft porn junk. As for "documentaries" Taxicab Confessions is NOT real. That's obvious to anyone who observes the way it's filmed and the alleged "real life conversations." My favorite was the one in which the scumbag performed oral sex on his skank girlfriend in the back of the cab. As the finale to a 5 minute cab discussion of everything about their sex lives. Very realistic. Dan had some real good support there.
"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."
Isn't he the guy who played Hoss on Bonanza? Oh, yeah, that was Dan BLOCKER....so who is Dan Rather?
I see he's enjoying his retirement as much as we are.
What can a confirmed biased liar do but have tears for a legacy that has gone down the toilet.
Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.
What the HELL is up with these sob sister girly-men like Rather and Voinovich???
Translation: We can't get away with lying anymore.
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