'CBS Should Be Totally Shamed'

J$P Instant Transcript! Reese Schonfeld gives Fox & Friends his reaction to Dan Rather's long goodbye.

From Fox & Friends, March 10 2005:

E.D. HILL [FOX NEWS]: Dan Rather's reign as the CBS Evening News anchor is officially over, but is his reputation beyond repair?

BRIAN KILMEADE [FOX NEWS]: Reese Schonfeld is the cofounder of CNN and author of Me and Ted Against the World: The Unauthorized Story of the Founding of CNN. Hey Reese, what did you think of Dan Rather's signoff last night?

REESE SCHONFELD: Something like his career: terrific in the beginning, and then it went on a little bit too long.

KILMEADE: Are you talking about the word "courage" at the end, or the show?

SCHONFELD: Partially courage, and all the other stuff. The occasional seeming insincerity, and I think that's a fair word to use, of his tribute to the guys in Lebanon and the guys in the war now, and his fellow workers and on and on. It was a terrific first four paragraphs or so.

HILL: When you watched it, because I had just watched it for the first time when we showed that little clip, I did not watch the whole thing, but I just sort of, I did, I started laughing. Because it just seemed so fake.

SCHONFELD: Insincerity is a nicer word than fake, yes.

HILL: Well, but I'm very blunt. It looked fake to me. And is that something that most people have thought about Rather?

SCHONFELD: Well, in the last few years, a lot of people kind of thought it about him. I don't think he is fake, by the way, and I don't think he's insincere.

HILL: You don't? No, that's what people who know him say, they say that he is a very good human being. He didn't come across that way to me.

SCHONFELD: No, I said for the first, the beginning, he looked like a newsman saying goodbye in a dignified, substantial way. And then he went into this, what you tend to think of as fake humility. Maybe because he's making eight million dollars a year, whatever it is, and he's suddenly living a different life--

HILL: Those dramatic pauses, and you know--

SCHONFELD: --and "courage".

KILMEADE: Well Reese, here's the scenario. 73 years old, doesn't want to slow down. If 60 Minutes Wednesday is canceled, it's in his contract: he goes to Sunday. If you were managing him, or you're a friend of his, how can he reclaim that career and get this memogate off the front pages in his career?

SCHONFELD: Try to do one story every two month. Have at least one of those stories count and change the world or change the United States. Do important stories, do them honestly and diligently. He has the power to do that. He's a very good reporter when he works at it, when he stops trying to be a performer or a managing editor, and just let him--he has to work at his real good trade and see if he can make it.

KILMEADE: So there's more pressure on him now, you would think, if he cares about his legacy?

SCHONFELD: Yes. Well I think his legacy will be pretty good anyway, but it's scarred by this one great blemish, and if you can make--

HILL: Well it's not just that one. You look at CBS Reports: The Wall Within. Remember that one? And he interviewed all these supposed GIs who had committed all these atrocities in VietNam. One claimed to skin 50 people alive in an hour, which obviously is baloney. But then when people investigated it, most of the people who detailed the atrocities they committed weren't even on the battlefield. One of them was stationed off California. He doesn't question.

SCHONFELD: Well, that's--journalists get away with saying--they don't question somebody, and you can get away--so long as you put in front of it, or on television show it, the guy saying it and not you, you can get away with it. But here, on this program, the last one, he said it. He put his brand on it, and you don't put your brand on a fake story.

KILMEADE: And this question of whether William Casey was really dead, when the CIA Director was really dead. Those were his--

HILL: Another one. He believed that the government was lying to him about the CIA Director being dead.

SCHONFELD: Anybody can believe anything if you don't say it on the air.

KILMEADE: Hey, Reese--

HILL: It's just all of it.

SCHONFELD: He had a great career; he did a lot of great things. I had a very very good friend--the famous story of him on the hurricane with the horse in his hand that got him his job at CBS? He was a reporter who was his own cameraman, and the question was, who shot that? And I was a friend of the guy who shot it. And even then, that was a setup.

KILMEADE: All right Reese, stay right there. When we come back, why you went after him, and why you didn't get him...

KILMEADE: ...Now Reese, when you were at CNN you went after Dan Rather. If you were at CNN looking to fill out prime-time for somebody effective, would Dan Rather be a guy you'd go for?

SCHONFELD: I wouldn't go for him as an anchor or a beat reporter. I think for a magazine show he'd still be one of the best reporters in the world. I want to say something here that hasn't come up. I want to talk about CBS. I think CBS should be totally shamed of what happened here in the past 48 hours. Walter Cronkite went on CNN, and Walter has a grudge against Dan. Dan pushed him out a year before he wanted to go. And he gets on there and he says, oh Dan, he's been washed up for years, he's been running three, how can they leave him on, he should have been replaced by Bob Schieffer years ago. Then Mike Wallace and Don Hewitt go up there and they cut him up. If that place can't impose discipline on the guys who work there, that place should be--Cronkite's office should end today. He shouldn't be allowed back in that building. And Rather should be told to pack up and go home too. They don't work there. They've got to say this. An important guy for CBS, a man who gave his life for that network, and CBS can't control its own people, then CBS is shamed too. And I really want to say that. I want to say that on the air, and I want to say emphatically that somebody should take action at CBS today.

HILL: Good to have you with us; appreciate your views. Thank you.

SCHONFELD: Always glad to be here; thank you.

KILMEADE: And put down New Yorker magazine; it's going to give you a headache. That's where this whole story came from.

SCHONFELD: I read about it.

STEVE DOOCY [FOX NEWS]: I just hope Reese Schonfeld never gets mad at me.

posted: Thu - March 10, 2005 at 11:06 AM       j$p  send