Sunday, March 06, 2005

Dan Rather Has Problems with Integrity

The Weekly Standard reports in its March 14th issue, Wrong from the Beginning - Even in 1963, Dan Rather was a poor excuse for a newsman;
Eddie Barker, for one, remembers. The news director for CBS's radio and TV affiliates in Dallas at the time of President Kennedy's November 22, 1963, assassination, Barker is widely credited with first reporting on the air that the president was dead, having received word through a doctor acquaintance directly from the hospital ER. Rather, then based in Dallas as a reporter for CBS's national news broadcast and working out of Barker's newsroom, later took credit for the scoop, Barker says. The error is repeated in historical accounts often enough to annoy the now-retired Barker, though he says the falsehood was later acknowledged by Rather.

It was a different lie--one delivered on national news, and at the expense of children--that caused Rather trouble at the time. As reporters from around the world descended on the Texas city, Rather went on the air with a local Methodist minister who made a stunning claim: Children at Dallas's University Park Elementary School had cheered when told of the president's death.

The tale was perfect for the moment, reinforcing the notion among distant media elites that Dallas was a reactionary "City of Hate." It slyly played to a local audience, too: The school named was in upper-income University Park, one of two adjacent municipal enclaves that shared a school district and a reputation for fiercely protected, lily-white privilege. Finally, for the ambitious Rather--a native Texan and then a Dallas resident--the account represented the very sort of revealing, local dirt that the throngs of out-of-town competitors would have to work far harder to get.

Except that it wasn't true, and Rather knew it, Barker says.
Go read the whole thing, the story gets even better with Dan avoiding editting but doing the false story live and getting himself and the national news guys thrown out of the studio building.
Aggressive to a fault, as the ignominious end of his four-plus decades at CBS makes plain. As Barker himself--a CBS newsman for
most of his career--says, "Anybody who followed CBS's coverage last year knows that they were doing a gut job on the president."

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