'The Media Elites Have Been Screwing Up'

J$P Instant Transcript! A tabloid reporter tells Fox & Friends what's wrong with Dan Rather and CBS News.

From Fox & Friends, March 1 2005:

E.D. HILL [FOX NEWS]: What did the CBS incident over the false Bush memo teach us about journalism?

BRIAN KILMEADE [FOX NEWS]: With us from Los Angeles right now, Mike Walker, author of Rather Dumb: A Top Tabloid Reporter Tells CBS How to Do News. So Mike, would you--

HILL: Hold on, let's tell people why we're laughing. We kept Mike, we started this segment and before we came on air--

KILMEADE: I said--

HILL: --you said, this is a great book. And I said, it's so mean. And he said, but is it true?

KILMEADE: Mike, is it true? Is there a pattern of behavior with Dan Rather?

MIKE WALKER [AUTHOR]: Yes. Well there's a pattern with Dan Rather. One of the reasons that I wrote the book was, I got into sort of a lather over Rather, because Dan got us to the point where Editor and Publisher, the Bible of journalism, published a headline that said, Thanks Dan: Trust in Media at New Low, referring to this whole documents scandal. Dan stonewalled for 12 days, and I didn't write a book about a reporter who got something wrong. We all get things wrong. But in this case I have never seen such a completely mindless vetting of a story. I mean, just very briefly, when they brought Mr Burkett, the Texan who is a malcontent against the Texas National Guard, and has had a history of attacking Bush, they never looked this guy as somebody who might be suspect, who might have an ax to grind. That's the first thing. But worse than that, when he gave them this document, it was a phony--pardon me, a copy of a document. And if I brought that to our lawyers on the National Enquirer, they would say what are you, crazy? This is a copy. You can't vet a document that's a copy. All right, that would be number one. Number two, and let me keep this real simple, they would say, OK, what's the chain of possession of this document, Mike? Who had it? Where did it come from? Was it stolen? You know, we have to be very careful with documents. I would say well, he got it from a guy in Europe. OK Mike, what did the guy in Europe say? Well, I didn't call him. Why didn't you call him, Mike? I mean, what do you mean you didn't call him? Call the guy. Dan Rather said, and I say it in the book, Dan Rather said, well, we knew his name. And that seemed OK. Turned out of course, later Burkett said well he didn't actually get it from that guy. He lied about that. He got it from some woman who was supposed to give it to him at a livestock show in Houston.

STEVE DOOCY [FOX NEWS]: Right. And Mike, isn't the whole point here that RatherGate is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the media elite, which we are not part of?

WALKER: Well, here's what I always say. What I say in the book is, I say, look, I'm not part of the media elite. I'm part of the media big leagues because I work for a publication that has a huge circulation. But the point is, the media elites have been screwing up. The New York Times with Jayson Blair, phoning in Maryland sniper stories, actually from another floor of the New York Times building down to the newsroom, right? And we have Jack Kelly, the disgraced foreign correspondent for years for USA Today--five editors had to be fired because of this guy--writing stories about heads bouncing down streets with eyes still blinking. I mean, insane stuff. Things you can't believe. What's going on in newsrooms, elite newsrooms as I put it, is a combination of fear--in CBS, the reason Dan Rather in my opinion did not come forward was because of his own stubbornness. And you saw yesterday Don Hewitt, the legendary producer of 60 Minutes, was asked the question, is CBS intimidated by Dan? He said, I couldn't have said it better myself. They were afraid. One of the reasons, people on Dan's staff, we know now, were saying we've got to come clean on this. This thing is wrong. We can't go on like ten, twelve days stonewalling. Dan would not--

HILL: But they determined that there wasn't a political bias at CBS. Yet if you talk to people, most people believe there is. And in your book, you do go back and you document one of the reports, CBS Reports: The Wall Within. And in that one as well, you bring up things where just a little checking could have changed a lot of incorrect facts.

WALKER: A couple of phone calls could have proven that these so-called, and it was about VietNam veterans who were shell-shocked and back from the war and living in the woods and so forth. And Dan went in without knowing who these guys were, and listened to them tell tales of doing things like--there was one guy who told a tale of skinning 50 people alive, an hour. Now I mean, 50 live people, skinning them, in an hour? I don't think so. I mean, Dan comes from the country [unintelligible], that dog won't hunt.

KILMEADE: Hey Mike, just a real quick, you go over the time he used an expletive into the camera from way back, reporting the JFK assassination. Or you talk about his battles with George H W Bush, the 41st President of the United States, and Richard Nixon, you just talk about a newsperson gone awry. And you give the whole story and recount it as if we were there today. So it's an interesting account of a career that just about capped.

WALKER: Just about. And as we count down to Dan's retirement, he says today or yesterday, he said in the paper, they still haven't proved that this was a forgery. Oh Dan, your job is to prove it isn't a forgery.

DOOCY: All right, the book is called Rather Dumb: A Top Tabloid Reporter Tells CBS How to Do News. Mike Walker, thanks for joining us live from Los Angeles.

WALKER: Thank you.

HILL: It's also rather mean.

KILMEADE: But if it's true, and this is his career, and he was a bully to all these people, he deserves it.

HILL: True, I know, I know. A fascinating book.

posted: Tue - March 1, 2005 at 03:28 PM       j$p  send