NEWS YOU WON'T FIND ON CNN

  Send Page To a Friend

Rather: Government Influencing Newsrooms

By SAMANTHA GROS

09/21/07 - -- NEW YORK (
AP) — Dan Rather said Thursday that the undue influence of the government and large corporations over newsrooms spurred his decision to file a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and its former parent company.

"Somebody, sometime has got to take a stand and say democracy cannot survive, much less thrive with the level of big corporate and big government interference and intimidation in news," he said on CNN's "Larry King Live."

In the suit, filed a day earlier in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, Rather claimed CBS and Viacom Inc. used him as a "scapegoat" and intentionally botched the aftermath of a discredited story about President Bush's military service to curry favor with the White House. He was removed from his "CBS Evening News" post in March 2005.

"They sacrificed support for independent journalism for corporate financial gain, and in so doing, I think they undermined a lot at CBS News," he told King.

Rather didn't mention other instances in which he believed news organizations bowed to corporate and government pressure.

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock did not return an after-hours call seeking comment Thursday. He has called Rather's complaints "old news" and said the lawsuit was "without merit." A spokesman for Viacom declined to comment.

Journalism ethics scholar Bob Steele said Rather would have a difficult time proving that the White House or other political operatives exerted undue influence on CBS.

"It would be naive for us to believe that there was no influence from powerful institutions and individuals on journalism," said Steele, a scholar at the Poynter Institute, a journalism foundation in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Still, he said: "For the most part, the journalists who run news organizations and who report the news fight hard to protect the independence of the journalism, and most of the time succeed."

Rather narrated the September 2004 report that said Bush disobeyed orders and shirked some of his duties during his National Guard service. It also said a commander felt pressured to sugarcoat Bush's record.

The story relied on four documents, supposedly written by Bush's commander in the Texas Air National Guard, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. Critics questioned the documents' authenticity and suggested they were forged.

A panel selected by the network to investigate the story determined that it was neither fair nor accurate. CBS fired the story's producer and asked for the resignations of three executives because it could not authenticate documents used in the story. Rather was forced out of the anchor chair he had occupied for 24 years.

On CNN, Rather dismissed the panel's review, claiming it was not impartial.

"This was in many ways a fraud. It was a setup," he told King.

Louis D. Boccardi, the retired chief executive of The Associated Press who made up the two-man investigative panel with Richard Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general, defended the panel's work Thursday night.

"Our report was independent, and it speaks for itself," he said, echoing comments made by Thornburgh on Wednesday. Both declined to comment further.

Hosted by Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Click on "comments" below to read or post comments

  Comment (0)

Comment Guidelines
Be succinct, constructive and relevant to the story. We encourage engaging, diverse and meaningful commentary. Do not include personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and emails. Comments falling outside our guidelines – those including personal attacks and profanity – are not permitted.
See our complete Comment Policy and use this link to notify us if you have concerns about a comment. We’ll promptly review and remove any inappropriate postings.

Send Page To a Friend

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information ClearingHouse endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

 

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon

 Sign up for our Daily Email Newsletter

  Amazon Honor System

HOME

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

 

Video