Dan Rather Fallout, Part XVII: What Was CBS thinking?
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"'He's not as easy to watch as [Peter] Jennings or [Tom] Brokaw,' said 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace in this week's The New Yorker magazine.
"'He's uptight and occasionally contrived. ... It's his style, and it's been a very effective style. God knows, I believe him. But I don't find him as satisfying to watch,' Wallace said."
Adam Lisberg, NYDailyNews
And now, in the aftermath of RatherGate and the ensuing Memo chaos, we turn to the soiled legacy of one CBS anchor: Dan Rather. Now that Dan Rather has been brought low by the steady stream of hot lead from the grimprecincts of the snarky blogosphere, one wonders: What was CBS thinking?
The Corsair believes that the main reasons the blogs were so hostile to Rather -- both left and right -- was because he was so manifestly unbelievable as a voice of Ultimate Reality. Bloggers are blessedly uninfected by the musty Establishmentarian Air that permeates joints like Elaine's. Thus, we look at Rather as the perennial third place finisher he is, flawed, silly, untrustworthy, gravitas-challenged. Really: How could Dan Rather be a "Wise Man" for 22 minutes of robust network news with the atmosphere of eccentricity that so consistently surrounds him, not unlike some otherworldly nimbus from the Crab Nebula? Holy fuck, keemo sabe!
Michael Wolff's interesting Vanity Fair piece on the "twilight of the anchors" says:
"After strained pleasantries, Rather inconsiderately failed to move on. Our small conversational group hemmed and hawed.
"'Really � how � I mean � ' -I began trying to circle the elephant-'do you think it is that you've become such a � I don't know � ' -I decided not to say doormat, or pustule, or piece of meat- 'buzzword � for the right wing?'
"'You tell me.' Rather stood like an old soldier, stiff, stuffed, painfully erect."
Such method acting! Do we have an Oscar at the ready for Dan's bravura performance of superlative "erectness"? Adam Lisberg's piece continues:
"Legendary anchor Walter Cronkite, who recommended Rather for a job years ago, told the magazine he preferred watching Brokaw - who retired last year - because Rather looked like he was 'showboating' - playing the part of a reporter on TV.
"And '60 Minutes' creator Don Hewitt, who likes watching Jennings, said America is voting against Rather with its remote controls.
"'If you're in a three-network race and you come in third, then the public is against you,' Hewitt said."
(A considerable pause filled with a tense, quivering righteous anger) Is there anyone at the CBS News division that has the confidence to watch their own anchor? Back in November 2003, The Corsair, neither right nor left, began to attack Rather. My motives were, I believe, shared by many other media bloggers in that Dan Rather did not appear to merit his $7 million a year salary. Call the cultural phenomenon of overly aggressive anti-Rather blogging as random acts of "resentment," or, call it, as The Corsair likes to, a clear view of reality that was validated by the fact that Rather's ratings sucked. Also chiming in, by the way, to distance themselves from Danny Boy are Andy Rooney.
Whatever the case, blogs will be all over this New Yorker piece penned by the always tastefully "mantanned" Ken Auletta today. And Andrew Hayward at CBS News, as well as Les Moonves, ought to be reading the writing on the wall. Get with it, or get bloggisected.