Dan Rather, CBS News Boss Both Escape 'Memogate' Unscathed

Dan Rather, CBS News Boss Both Escape 'Memogate' Unscathed

January 12, 2005

The Virginia-based Media Research Center says it is "disingenuous" for CBS to consider Dan Rather's "retirement" from the network's evening news broadcast sufficient punishment for his involvement in the Memogate scandal.

The Media Research Center believes CBS did not go far enough when it announced the firing of four executives in the wake of the Memogate investigation into a 60 Minutes Wednesday report on President Bush's National Guard service.  On Monday (January 10), investigators enlisted by the network said the story did not meet CBS News' internal standards because producers wanted to be the first to break the story. 

Mary Mapes, the report's producer, was fired, along with executive producer Josh Howard, and his top deputy Mary Murphy, and senior vice president Betsy West.

CBS anchor Dan Rather, who narrated the report, announced in November that he would step down as anchor of CBS Evening News in early March. He said the timing had nothing to do with the investigation. 

MRC spokesman Mike Chapman says the network should have done more than just "retire" Dan Rather.

"Yes, he's leaving CBS Evening News, but he's moving over to the same program that broadcast this very bogus story to begin with," Chapman says. "So it's rather disingenuous for people to say, 'Well, you know, Dan has stepped down, he's been punished, and let's move on.'  He's moving right over to the same program that [aired] this stuff in the first place."

According to the MRC spokesman, the problem at CBS goes beyond Rather.  Getting rid of the long-time anchor -- and even CBS News president Andrew Hayward -- would not solve the problem, Chapman says.

"The problem is an institutional, politically liberal bias at CBS as well as [at] the major networks -- and that's what has to be addressed," he states.  "You have to get reporters to provide fair, accurate, and balanced stories.  These politically motivated smear jobs eventually can come back to haunt these people, which is what you're seeing with the Memo-gate story."

Ironically, a long-time CBS insider appears to agree somewhat with Chapman.  In a USA Today story this week, 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney said "the people on the front lines got fired while the people most instrumental in getting broadcast on escaped."  According to that report, Rooney was referring to the four CBS employees who were fired, while Dan Rather and Andrew Heyward kept their jobs.


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