Dan Rather
Dan Rather in 1980

The Smoking Gun: The Unabomber’s Media Pen Pals

I hated to see 60 Minutes besmirched by Dan Rather and 60 Minutes II, a show with a different agenda and staff. For anyone doubting this please read this old 60 Minutes II memo where a producer tried to get the Unabomber to tell his side of the story. While part of this letter is a sales pitch, I’m certain that the 60 Minutes folks were never too happy about the 60 Minutes II clone which was always sloppy by comparison. This letter is kind of pathetic. Now, because of the fake letter about Bush, sloppy work has come home to haunt 60 Minutes II, 60 Minutes, and CBS News in general. And I still suspect the million dollar fine can be attributed to Dan Rather too. Hopefully the public will understand how this works.

Page 1

Page 2

on page 2 is says:

I want you to be very clear about who I represent and what we want to do. I work for CBS News chief anchor Dan Rather and produce stories for him which are broadcast on 60 Minutes II. Please understand that 60 Minutes II is NOT the program on which your brother and mother appeared. They appeared on 60 Minutes with Mick Wallace and Lesley Stahl. These are seperate programs with seperate staffs and managers. ..if you work with us…the folks who produced the story with your brother will have no input or control. Our story will allow you to personally refute what they said about you as well as provide a serious forum for your ideas.

Like we needed a serious forum for the Unabomber to tell his tale.

Dan Rather has an interesting history. His first notice was at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 when he was supposedly “roughed up” on camera during CBS coverage. The video is here and Rather seems to be making the most fuss and possibily faking the entire situation.
rather 2
Definitly worth reviewing. His antics have all been about promoting himself . After reading the Unabomber plea above, one can only imagine what the plea to Saddam Hussein was like. This site Ratherbiased.com documents a lot of this.

Another site with weird Rather tales is here

22 Nov 1963 Breaks news of John F. Kennedy assassination.
1963 “I told Rather to go to [Abraham] Zapruder’s house, sock him in the jaw, take his film to our affiliate in Dallas, copy it onto videotape, and let the CBS lawyers decide whether it could be sold or whether it was in the public domain. And then take the film back to Zapruder’s house and give it back to him. That way, the only thing they could get him for was assault because he would have returned Zapruder’s property. Rather said, ‘Great idea. I’ll do it.'” — Don Hewitt, Tell Me a Story (published 2001.)

cartoon

The Anchor as Madman story in Slate

The CBS cocoons engender a kind of madness. Rather is paid an outsized salaryhe makes $7 million per yearthat is in no way commensurate with the number of viewers he delivers. Where most prime-time shows have a few weeks to prove their viability, newscasts often are given years and decades. The network’s former glory allows Rather to shroud himself in the aura of Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. “I’m confident we worked longer, dug deeper, and worked harder than almost anybody in American journalism does,” Rather told the Washington Post Sunday, when in fact CBS spent less time verifying the Guard documents than most bloggers.

Yes, he makes $7 million a year and has been making that sort of income for a decade or more. You seriously have to wonder who is the primary benefactor. Who has kept this guy on the air so long? Who at CBS loves him. It has to be someone. That’s the guy who should be looked into. My guess? He’s long gone and nobody actually knows why Rather is there.

The problem, of course, is who can anchor these news shows? Not many people can do it nationally without looking clownish. I don’t know that CBS has anyone ready to move up. The best guy on the air is in Canada. He’s Peter Mansbridge. If you watch the CBC, he’s far superior to anyone we have here, by lots.



  1. Anonymously says:

    Dan Rather knocked me down as he rushed through the crowd at a Dukakis rally in Boston back in ’88. It was in the old Boston Garden (before it was renamed (refurbished?) “Fleet Center”). I always used it as my first “brush with fame”, but didn’t get the irony of the situation until seeing the video of Rather at the 1968 Convention (this was just a rally, obviously not the ’88 Convention).

    To be clear, he didn’t knock me over and then punch me. He just couldn’t be bothered as he stormed through the crowd.

  2. John C. Dvorak says:

    As someone who works in TV and print I can assure you that this is common practice with TV crews. It’s amazing how they get away with it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Rather video of him being “roughed up” is more or less yellow journalism. He got pushed, probably by a delegation just trying to make it through the crowd. And he keeps saying “If you are going to arrest me, arrest me, please don’t push me” … pure sensationalism.

  4. Ed Campbell says:

    Nice plug for Peter Mansbridge. My first best discovery about satellite TV — after I got the little dish for sports — was News World International [NWI], the international news service from the CBC. I’d get to see Mansbridge on the early morning segment where NWI carried “The National” from the CBC.

    NWI gives me news direct from state and independent producers in Germany, China, Japan, England — and others when they feel like experimenting. Chris Henry is the most interesting sportscaster on the planet — and their programs like “Hemispheres” [Northern and Southern!], and Bill Cunningham’s “Special Assignment” are a treat to real journalism instead of the talking head mouthwash we get from the networks and the Warnerized CNN.

    Question is — what will happen to all of this — access to the fine CBC shows and dedication to world news, now that Al Gore’s group is purchasing NWI from Vivendi?

  5. Thomas says:

    Rather is the poster boy for liberal bias in the media. The New York Times would be a close second (what a coincidence ;->). Numerous people have written about Rather’s liberal bias as well as his penchant for “embellishing the truth that he wants people to hear.”

    I would replace him or move him to a time slot for old foggies. The network news outlets have become something of a farce anyway so I don’t see that it would hurt them. It would do them good to break up their stuffiness with some new blood.

    Regarding his salary, if CBS is dumb enough to pay Rather $7M, more power to him. They just shouldn’t come whining to the public when they get into financial trouble.

  6. Richard says:

    I’m sorry I’d rather not.

  7. Anonymously says:

    While there’s not doubt that Dan Rather has become a “poster boy” for the liberal media for the right-wing, that poster is wrong. Rather is no more liberal than [insert anchor name here] is a conservative. All the major network anchors are unsatisfactory to partisans on either side. The idea that Rather is part of a “liberal media” is tin-foil hat time. It looks like he blew a story. That’s it.

    Indeed, as Thomas noted, The New York Times is also a “poster boy” (“poster paper”?), but they issued their own mea culpa a few months ago for being taken in and not being critical of the Bush Administration’s case for war with Iraq. Being uncritical of the Bush Administration is hardly what you would expect from the (so-called) “liberal media.”

    I wish we had a liberal media. I wish there was a liberal Fox News. But there isn’t. There’s just a lot of rightwing yapping about the so-called liberal media. As Bill Kristol said to the New Yorker, “I admit it. The whole idea of the ‘liberal media’ was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.”

    Believe it or not, we on the left-wing are as fed up as the right-wing with the media. I can understand how right-wingers might think that the media doesn’t portray their point of view, but I wish they would have sympathy for the fact that it doesn’t portray a left-wing point of view either.

    Of course, I would say we’re even more fed up because we don’t have our very own news network. Air America just doesn’t cut it.

    As Thomas suggests, bringing in new blood wouldn’t be a bad thing. But, as a favor to right-wingers, we should really give them something to holler about. Bring in some real liberals like, I don’t know, Joe Conason, Al Franken, and Howard Zinn as the major network anchors. And give Noam Chomsky an “Andy Rooney-like” few minutes every night to c0mplain about stuff. That would be a liberal media I could be proud of. ;)

  8. Thomas says:

    That the media is not heavly slanted left is complete nonsense. 60 Minutes did an entire one hour show on Clinton’s freaking biography. That alone should proof enough. But then, 60 min II does Bush’s memo and Rather practically comes out says he’s not going to rest until he digs up the truth (read: dirt). Of course, neither does anything about the Swift Boat allegations or any other allegation made about Kerry’s record.

    Of course Rather doesn’t think he’s liberal. Neither do many who live in New York. However, much like their boy Kerry, they live in an ivory tower in comparison to the rest of the country. All New Yorkers think everyone thinks just like they do which explains why Rather doesn’t think he’s liberal. He simply thinks it’s normal. As it turns out, he’s only normal in his own little universe.

    Now, I’ll grant you that the media isn’t *as* liberal as some would want or claim. Hell, I have a client that’s so liberal he thinks Cuba is the model by which government should be run. He thinks the media is all state run garbage, including the NYT. I suspect there is only so much liberalism that can choaked down by the American public. Similarly, there is only so much Republikan religious nonsense that can be withstood by the American public.

    >That would be a liberal media I could be proud of.

    Assuming one can bring themselves to be proud of a failed economic system in the first place.

    I must say that in one regard I agree with Mr. Lefty Anonymous. I think replacing anchors with comedians (can you say Jon Stewart?) would make the evening news far more entertaining and would provide about the same amount of balanced news we get now. ;-> …maybe adding hecklers to the broadcast booth..hmm…

  9. Mike Voice says:

    Thomas wrote:
    I suspect there is only so much liberalism that can choaked down by the American public. Similarly, there is only so much Republikan religious nonsense that can be withstood by the American public.

    and
    I must say that in one regard I agree with Mr. Lefty Anonymous. I think replacing anchors with comedians (can you say Jon Stewart?) would make the evening news far more entertaining and would provide about the same amount of balanced news we get now. ;->

    Well said.

    The last decade (or so) has made me appreciate the movie “Broadcast News”, with regard to the change in TV journalism – with the Anchors becoming presenters of stories developed by others, and not doing much – if any – of the investigation themselves. The anchors are picked more for their on-camera “presence”, than their investigative ability.

    Which, in itself, I have no problem with: having people good at “getting the story” being allowed to concentrate on that, and the people with a good “stage presence” getting the story out, in a form I can bear to watch.

    But – in the real world – it doesn’t work that way. The anchors want credibility as reporters, and the reporters want air-time – so they are at odds with each-other.

    A classic example was CNN – during the Gulf War and Bosnia – when the reporters in the field became celebrities, at the expense of the anchors.

    The “embedding” of reporters with troops, during the invasion of Iraq, was another example of reporters wanting the credibility of reporting “from the field” – while still wanting to be on a nightly TV-news show. How do you do both, without one job – or both – suffering?

  10. Zappini says:

    Liberal bias in the media? Riiiight. There’s only one bias in the media and that’s corporate. It’s sad that self-identified “conservatives”, who are anything but, are such tools.

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