'A Long History of Bias'

J$P Instant Transcript! John Hinderaker of Power Line on the career of Dan Rather.

From Fox News Live, March 8 2005:

JON SCOTT [FOX NEWS]: Dan Rather is set to end his 24-year run as anchor of the CBS Evening News--that's happening tomorrow. But Rather isn't exactly getting the happiest sendoff you might imagine. He's leaving under something of a cloud tarnished by last fall's discredited story about President Bush's military service. Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite says Rather's replacement, Bob Schieffer, is long overdue. So how will the longtime anchor be remembered? Joining us now, cofounder of Power Line, one of the bloggers who broke the CBS scandal story, John Hinderaker. John, good morning.


SCOTT: Well, so he's had a 24-year career at CBS. A lot of people look to him for their nightly news. I'm guessing you're not going to be one of those who remembers his tenure fondly.

HINDERAKER: Well actually, fewer and fewer people have been looking to Dan Rather for the source of their nightly news. And when I read Walter Cronkite's comments it seemed that what he was mostly concerned about was the low ratings in recent years. But you're right. I don't think this is going to be a big blow to broadcast journalism.

SCOTT: Cronkite hit him pretty hard, saying that he thought Rather's replacement was long overdue.

HINDERAKER: Well he did. As I say, his concern seemed to be mostly about ratings. But I think what's really significant here is that Rather's retirement was obviously accelerated by the 60 Minutes story that he presided over, and the fake documents that they tried to present.

SCOTT: Yeah, well he's never really said that those documents were fakes. I mean, there seems to be at least an indication among some at CBS, Mary Mapes, the producer of the story, and so forth, that they got it right.

HINDERAKER: You're absolutely right, and that's just a scandal. Dan Rather was on the David Letterman show the other night, and he was trying to kind of pursue the idea that these documents may have been genuine after all. Mary Mapes has continued to say that, and that's just ridiculous. If you look at the Thornburgh report, and of course very few people have actually read it, it lays out in great detail all the reasons why it's just obvious that these documents are fakes. It attaches as an appendix a report from a document examiner that says the documents are fakes. It talks about the many errors, not just in typography and format, but above all in content. The contents of these documents have been shown to be wrong.

SCOTT: A lot of people had those documents for years before CBS decided to run with them, and a lot of people were dubious. Can you blame it on Rather? I mean, can you say that he's the guy who really is responsible for that report when the other folks got fired?

HINDERAKER: Well, I don't know. If you read the Thornburgh report, clearly Mary Mapes was the person who was in the eye of that hurricane. The Thornburgh report presents Dan Rather as somebody who is detached, had very little to do with the story. If you remember Ted Baxter on the old Mary Tyler Moore show, that's how Dan Rather comes off in the Thornburgh report. They say that it's not clear that he'd ever even read the script for the report until he read it on-air on September 8th. So it's very hard to say how much personal responsibility Dan Rather had for that story, but certainly as the anchor who presented the story, as a very senior executive of CBS News, he took responsibility for it.

SCOTT: I think a lot of Americans still have a great fondness for Walter Cronkite. He was sort of the country's grandfather in many respects. How do you think folks are going to remember Dan Rather? Not that he's retiring--I mean, he still supposedly is going to go to work at 60 Minutes Wednesday.

HINDERAKER: Yeah, we'll see how much that happens. We'll also see whether 60 Minutes Wednesday even continues. I think the ratings there are pretty low. I don't know how people are going to remember Dan Rather. I personally have always found his kind of, his mannerisms kind of endearing. His little Texas sayings, and the fact that he's not as slick and as smooth as a lot of the modern anchormen. Personally I always found that kind of endearing. But I think it is true, as conservatives have said for a long time, that Dan Rather has a long history of bias that's been expressed in the way that he's talked about the issues. And I think that's a big part of how he will be remembered.

SCOTT: John Hinderaker, the cofounder of PowerLine.blog--err, PowerLine.com, the blog. Thank you.

HINDERAKER: Thank you.

posted: Tue - March 8, 2005 at 10:11 AM       j$p  send