'Andrew Heyward, The Teflon President'

J$P Instant Transcript! Bernard Goldberg and Eric Burns on Dayside.

From Dayside with Linda Vester, January 10 2005:

LINDA VESTER [FOX NEWS]: This 200+ page report is pretty tough. Have you been able to find out from old pals what's happening inside CBS with this report?

BERNARD GOLDBERG [AUTHOR]: Yeah, I'm not sure how tough it is though, with all due respect. The report says that there's no evidence of bias, and I understand why there's no evidence, because there's never, ever a smoking gun. There's never a memo that says let's slant the news in a particular direction. But I'm curious, does anybody really think that if the person in question wasn't a conservative Republican President, George Bush, but let's say John Kerry, that this story would have gotten on the air? Would it have gotten as far as it has? There's no way in the world it would have. Look, I think they got taken by phony documents, I want to make that clear. Dan Rather didn't put phony documents on the air intentionally. But the only way something like this could happen is if they wanted, if they wanted the story to be true, and in that sense I think there was some political bias involved.

VESTER: You know it's funny, I asked the audience the same very question about if the name had been different on the documents and had been someone else, I just want to give you a quick reaction. Do you think that CBS would have rushed it to air in the same way?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I think it would be very unlikely, highly unlikely.

VESTER: Eric, you were saying?

ERIC BURNS [FOX NEWSWATCH]: The evidence which Bernie says doesn't exist as a smoking gun exists intuitively. It's the kind of thing you can figure out; let me put this as simply as possible. Here's what CBS didn't do, and what they didn't do is so elementary that those little kids who come around your neighborhood with the newspapers that they do at age four and five, that they run off on their Dad's Xerox machine at work? They know how to do this. Bill Burkett is the guy who provided the memos to CBS. According to an interview he gave Dan Rather, he said to Rather, I didn't originate the interview, somebody gave them to me. Who gave them to you, Bill? Bill gave them a name. We later learn that the name was made up. We don't know where those documents came from, but Bill said something like Joe Smith gave me the documents. Well, what you do if you're a journalist, even if you're the kid in the neighborhood at four or five with his own paper, is you ask for the name of the person from Bill Burkett who gave them to Bill Burkett, and then you would have found out that person didn't exist. At that point you stop doing the story. This is basic. What is the explanation for CBS's not having tried to get Burkett's source? They wanted the story to be true too much to check.

VESTER: Here's another question, Bernie. Mary Mapes know, and admitted openly, that the source said look, I'll give you the documents if you put me in touch with the John Kerry campaign. And anybody who's worked a long time in this business knows you don't agree to that sort of stuff. That immediately tells you something is fishy. But didn't she also tell her bosses about this quid pro quo?

GOLDBERG: According to my sources, she told them different things. And she--I'm hesitating to use the word "lie" because I don't have firsthand knowledge, but my sources tell me Mary Mapes misled them at every step along the way. As a result I'm willing to be generous to Dan Rather, for instance. Let me say flat out, Josh Howard and Mary Murphy, the executive producer and his top lieutenant, should not have been fired. They were not part of the coverup, that's for sure. But if Mary Murphy and Josh Howard, who were not part of the coverup, others were, others who still have their jobs were. Now tell me this. How could Andrew Heyward, the President of CBS News, and Dan Rather, who will go in and work on 60 Minutes Wednesday edition making millions and millions of dollars, how can they go to work in the next few days, knowing that all these other people have been fired, and they were as much a part of this as anybody else. You know Dan Rather said, immediately after this, immediately after this, Dan Rather said this is the work of partisan political forces. And in a way he's right. His producer was a partisan political force. His main source was a partisan political force. And there's every reason to believe Dan Rather may have been a partisan political force also.

VESTER: Well Dan Rather is going to retire; should Andrew Heyward step down?

GOLDBERG: Well that's up to Andrew Heyward. But they called Ronald Reagan the teflon President. Andrew Heyward makes Ronald Reagan look like a piker by comparison.

VESTER: Eric, I'm going to ask you the same question.

GOLDBERG: Andrew Heyward was involved in this story at every level. I'm not saying he went out in the field. Dan, however, did go out in the field and Dan should have known better. Mary Mapes misled everybody; she's villain number one. Dan should have known better, so he's being punished. But Dan Rather hasn't lost his job, and Andrew Heyward, who is the captain of the ship after all, Andrew Heyward was at all those meetings where they discussed the controversial nature of this story. But Andrew Heyward, the teflon President, keeps his job.

VESTER: Sorry, very quickly Eric.

BURNS: It's not clear to me how much Heyward knew. I would take issue with Bernie on one count. He said that two of the folks should not have been fired because they were not part of the coverup. They weren't, but they were part of the initial process that let the story go on the air--

VESTER: The initial judgment call.

BURNS: --so I would find them culpable for that reason forgetting the coverup.

GOLDBERG: I'd find them culpable if everybody else got fired too, but they didn't.

VESTER: Well, I mean, we could all talk about this for hours, but I do remember a certain NBC Dateline scandal in which it went all the way up to the President of NBC News.

GOLDBERG: Certainly.

VESTER: So, we'll leave it there. Bernie, Eric, thanks to you both.

posted: Mon - January 10, 2005 at 02:15 PM       j$p  send