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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.

Comments (10)

heh...clueless times four!<... (Below threshold)

heh...clueless times four!

yeah- CBS is clueless but t... (Below threshold)

yeah- CBS is clueless but they can apparently afford better servers. Just goes to show that integrity won't always pay the rent.

- Apparently not everyone i... (Below threshold)

- Apparently not everyone in the CBS cabal are hopelessly immired in the same ideological cul-d-sac...catch Bill of INDC's personal interview of Bob Shieffer...Even as short as it was Bob seemed to understand the true damning aspect of the whole mess was Rather's petulant dogged defensiveness for such a long time after the initial exposure coupled with the idea that a "normalized" conduit of information exchange between a major News organization and the DNC was simply indefensable...If Heyward and Moonves think that the old "boys will be boys" soft peddle is going to work its just going to make it worse in the end....

I still think we should boy... (Below threshold)

I still think we should boycott CBS. They are only making it worse.

firstbrokenangel: I alread... (Below threshold)

firstbrokenangel: I already am.

I used to set the alarm when needed inorder to watch CBS' Sunday Morning broadcast, but now even that I no longer bother with, finding it something akin to a broadcast from the sheets of the NYTimes or thereabouts...

I was already quite weary of CBS' insistent liberal content, their "editorials" on Sunday morning by that woman (name?) who is affiliated with the NYTimes, these sort of "if you want to really be trendy, you'll consider doing this, thinking that, not doing this, not doing that..."

It's the network of trendy randiness, the sorta' influence in a private home that someone of real interests can certainly do without. So, Rathergate for my personal viewing and listening preferences, was just more proof about what I'd already felt intuitively, about the general network content: that their product wasn't reliable, didn't offer me any worthwhile return for my time and/or investment.

I wish advertisers would take closer notice of this effect by CBS and, also, the NYTimes, upon many Americans. By persisting in affiliating with media sites such as that, they negate their own products.

So, yes, I "boycott" CBS (and the NYTimes) but mostly because, on a very personal note, I just don't find them (either/or) to be reliable sources. Rathergate just emphasized to me that I knew what I knew and that what I knew was accurate: they aren't sources I can rely on, and because of that, aren't sources I consider, at least, not any longer.

To make matters worse, they... (Below threshold)

To make matters worse, they are polling about this. I got a poll call yesterday afternoon, and thinking it might be about the election, decided to answer. Instead, it's a thinly veiled poll about the news. Do you ever watch the major network news? (often, sometimes, never) I answered: never. Then there were more similiar questions. These guys are seeing the whole network news business go down the toilet.

I have developed what I cal... (Below threshold)

I have developed what I call the ‘CART’ recommendation for CBS, which I offer for Mr. Redstone’s consideration:

C - Confess the documents are forgeries

A - Apologize to all concerned

R - Retract the story

T - Terminate those involved

As I read the CBS statements, they have actually done none of these things to date.

Their continuing emphasis on ‘not being able to authenticate’ the documents is like saying “so far, we have not been able to find General Franco's pulse.”

Rather simply has to go. No... (Below threshold)

Rather simply has to go. Now.

I don't care if a 25th year anniversary would be fitting... it's improper. Rather has dragged CBS into the gutter and it has no chance of climbing out until he's gone.

I write my local CBS affiliate and CBS News weekly to impress this point upon them. Spring is six months too late. Next week is too late.

I'm not just boycotting CBS... (Below threshold)

I'm not just boycotting CBS, I've locked the channel out on every TV I own. Including the HDTV card in my computer. I have sacrificed watching my home town football team because they are on CBS. I'm getting madder the longer the stonewall goes on. I may never watch CBS again. Biased news reporting is one thing but fraudulent news has to be seriously discouraged. I would like to see Rather, Mapes and Burkett in jail.

Boycotting CBS won't work, ... (Below threshold)
Stephen Walker:

Boycotting CBS won't work, they just ignore people unless the numbers get into the millions. Tonight I watched CBS's hogwash on the draft. I sent the following to GM.

Seeing your ad follow the false and trauma causing story on CBS about the draft on CBS has caused me to examine if I should purchase your products. This is the second attempt to spread obvious lies in a few weeks. CBS did the smear job with the fake documents and has also been fined for the Janet Jackson incident. Your corporation is sadly lacking in ethics to continue doing business with CBS and expecially to advertise on any show that has Dan Rather on it. I intend to boycott your products and will strongly encourage others to do the same.

I assure you that it will only take a few thousand such letters for GM to send the one letter that CBS will actually read.

Stephen Walker






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