Guest: Bob Kohn, Jay Rosen, Av Westin, Hugh Downs, Tony Blankley, Mort Zuckerman, Bernard Goldberg
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: The failure of CBS News to do just that, to properly, fully scrutinize the documents and their source, led to our airing the documents when we should not have done so. It was a mistake. CBS News deeply regrets it. Also, I want to say personally and directly, I‘m sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight, the perfect storm that knocked Dan Rather off his anchor chair, and the “Real Deal” on the CBS report.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
An independent panel blames incompetence and not bias for CBS‘ false report on the president‘s National Guard service. We‘re going to get reaction from the insider who first blew the lid off of CBS‘ bias years ago, Bernie Goldberg and asks what it means for the network of Murrow and Cronkite.
And CBS tells producer Mary Mapes, you‘re fired, along with three other high-level execs. But CBS News chief Andrew Heyward and Dan Rather get off without a scratch. Is there still a cover-up going on at the tiffany network?
And then former “20/20” anchor Hugh Downs on how this story ever made air in the first place and how it‘s going to change the way you get your news in the future.
And while his world crumbles around him, Dan Rather insists still that these documents aren‘t forged. Come again? What‘s the frequency, Kenneth?
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to the show. And I‘ll tell you, we‘ve got a great show tonight. What an honor it is to have Bernie Goldberg and Hugh Downs and Mort Zuckerman. And we‘ve got so many other people tonight that you‘re going to want to listen to, stay and listen to and get their reaction to this unbelievable development in network news, because, as you know, the Rather report is in.
And, unfortunately, the usual suspects are getting off without a scratch. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, CBS News, as you know, released its internal report today, blasting Dan Rather‘s “60 Minutes” story that used forged documents to attack the president‘s National Guard service in the middle of the campaign. While the report was scathing in sections, some serious questions remain. First of all, troubling questions are out there on why Dan Rather kept his job, while CBS fired producer Mary Mapes immediately.
Now, true, Mapes produced the segment. But just like Howell Raines at “The New York Times,” Dan Rather was the one who in the end was responsible for publishing forged documents for all the world to see. In an interview today, CBS president Les Moonves all but accused Mapes of blindsiding poor old Dan, who after all was just coming back from covering a hurricane when the “60 Minutes” story ran.
Now, the second question to ask is, why is CBS News president Andrew Heyward still having his job? Now, I‘m not saying tonight that Heyward should shoulder all the blame for the false report running in the first place. But his greatest offense to CBS News and to their viewers was his failure to rein in Rather after it became clear to the world that these documents were forged.
Rather denied reality, continued the cover-up, and the president of CBS News at that point acted more as an enabler to Rather, instead of an independent voice. You can say what you will about “The New York Times,” but when they had their recent journalistic scandal, the head of that proud publishing dynasty did what had to be done and fired those at the top, instead of whacking off the heads of lowly assistant editors.
When the United States Marines go into combat zones, the first to eat are the privates. And if there is any food left, then the officers will take their turn. But today, at the network of Murrow and Cronkite, it looks more like the officers are more willing to eat their own, instead of holding the true powers to be accountable for their sins at CBS News.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Rather-gate comes full circle and heads do roll at CBS. And the panel investigating CBS for its erroneous “60 Minutes” story about President Bush‘s military service today made public its report. And it cites CBS‘ failure to authenticate documents to the story and a failure in not investigating the controversial source of the document, retired Texas National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett.
It says “problems were caused primarily by caused primarily by a myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a new story about the president‘s service and the rigid and blind defense of the segment after it aired, despite numerous indications of its shortcomings.”
However, at CBS, Mary Mapes, the producer of the piece, got fired. And three other executive staffers also fired. As I said, president Andrew Heyward stays, and Dan Rather dodges a bullet. Has CBS ignored the elephant in the living room? And did, as I mentioned, Rather still think that the documents are real?
With me now, former CBS insider Bernie Goldberg. He‘s of course is the author of “Bias: How a CBS Insider Exposes the Media and How It Distorts the News.”
And, of course, Bernie, you wrote about arrogance.
BERNARD GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, “ARROGANCE”: Right.
SCARBOROUGH: We can talk about “Bias” and “Arrogance.”
But before we get into all of that, I want to ask you a question about Dan Rather tonight. You know Dan Rather better than 99.9 percent of Americans alive today. You used to have a great relationship with him before you wrote the truth about his network. Where is Dan Rather tonight? I mean, take us into his mental state. Knowing Rather as you did, is he in a bunker, sort of a bunker mentality? What‘s going through his mind?
GOLDBERG: Yes, the last place I want to be tonight is inside Dan Rather‘s head. Let me make that absolutely clear.
GOLDBERG: I hope Dan Rather has something that they call survivor‘s guilt. Survivor‘s guilt is when you live in a small town, and the river comes through the town and kills 20 people, 100 people, but you‘re not one of them.
People go through this mental state of survivor‘s guilt. They feel terrible about it. I hope Dan appreciates the fact that he still has a job that is paying him millions and millions of dollars, and that, while all the other people who were involved in that story are gone, he‘s still there.
SCARBOROUGH: Should Dan Rather have been fired today?
GOLDBERG: That is not up to me. That‘s up to Leslie Moonves and taking his anchor chair away from him perhaps is humiliation enough.
But I‘ll tell you this. Dan Rather has been a reporter for a very long time. He‘s covered every major story since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And he broke that story. He was the first one on the air saying that Kennedy was in fact dead. And, as I say, he has covered every other big story since. And he deserves a lot of credit for that. So, before we move on, let‘s give credit where credit is due. That will be a big part of his legacy.
But, Joe, the rest of his legacy is this. He is unable or unwilling or incapable of taking serious criticism seriously. He has an instinctual reaction to circle the wagons, an instinctive reaction to circle the wagons and to blame everybody else when he or CBS did something wrong.
Right after this report came out, he said that some of the people criticizing him were partisan political forces. Some of them were, no question about that. But I‘ll tell you who the other partisan political forces were. His source for the story was a partisan political force. His producer Mary Mapes sure was a partisan political force.
And you know what? A lot of people tonight are going to say, and not without justification, that maybe, just maybe, Dan Rather himself was a partisan political force.
SCARBOROUGH: How, though, do you fire the producer of a segment and others involved in the segment and you don‘t immediately dismiss the person that put this segment on the air? That goes against every managerial technique out there, that you‘re pointing at lower-level people, instead of the man who, in the end, had the final say on what the American people saw, in the middle of a heated—well, near the end of a heated presidential campaign.
GOLDBERG: Well, the short answer is, they can do whatever they want.
That‘s part of the problem. It‘s their TV network. It‘s their camera. It‘s their microphone. It‘s their studio. It‘s their lights. If you complain about bias in the news, they tell you to jump in the lake, because it‘s their studio. It‘s their camera.
It‘s all—everything is theirs. The other answer to that, about how Rather can stay, is—touches on one of the dirty little secrets of television news at the network level. And that is, the bigger you get, the more important you get, the less work you have to do. And I‘ll bet you every producer in your control room right up there tonight, Joe, at MSNBC, knows that I‘m telling the truth. Producers carry the weight and the correspondents get the glory.
Now, if Rather wants to come out publicly and say, I had nothing to do with it, I‘m just a news reader and humiliate himself that way, be my guest. If, on the other hand, he wants to say, no, I had everything to do with it this, then he is going to have to account for his role in this whole thing.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Bernie, without—I hope I don‘t upset anybody by saying this—but MSNBC, CNN, Fox, I‘ve been through these organizations. And I‘ve seen them. They remind me of the House of Representatives, a lot more interaction between the staff members and the person in charge of the office.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold it a second, though.
But you go over to the networks, and you see how these anchors are treated, they are treated—I would like to say they‘re treated like United States senators, but they‘re treated more like presidents of a sovereign nation. They are almost untouchable.
And therein I think lies Andrew Heyward‘s biggest sin, that he didn‘t stand up and say, Rather, you‘re embarrassing yourself. I‘m your friend, and I‘m also the head of CBS News. We‘ve got to get out in front of this story.
But he didn‘t have the guts to do it.
GOLDBERG: Full disclosure. Andrew Heyward and I at one time were best of friends. At least he was my best friend. So I want to tell you that right off the bat.
The point you made about that, about enablers, in the beginning of the program was dead on the money. That is precisely the problem. And this is something that will never come out if they do 100 reports. But having been at CBS News for 28 years, I know what I‘m talking about on this. Dan Rather could be a great guy. Dan Rather is a fun guy. He‘s a guy that you want to hang out with. I‘ve said this before. He won‘t talk about it, but is he a very generous guy, with his money very generous.
But there is an invisible circle of fear that emanates. It ripples out.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s not so invisible, Bernie. I‘m telling you, you say the words—and, again, I hope I don‘t get in trouble here—but you say the words Brokaw and Russert in the wrong way at NBC or MSNBC—I remember one time, when I first got here, I just made a casual comment about Tom Brokaw. It wasn‘t a negative comment at all.
Everybody scurried in the corner. And I was like, what did I say? And then you go around and you cover this guy—you cover conventions and you cover the primaries, and he‘s—it‘s not Tom Brokaw‘s fault. Tom Brokaw seems like he‘s a very decent man, just like Dan Rather seems like he‘s a decent man. But my gosh, they are treated like they are gods. And that cannot be healthy.
GOLDBERG: There was a time at CBS News that I said just what you did, that it‘s not Dan‘s fault. I mean, if everybody is, you know, treating him as if he‘s—you said a president. I would disagree on that.
SCARBOROUGH: An emperor.
GOLDBERG: I think a king or emperor is a lot closer to it. If they are going to do that, that‘s their fault.
And you know what? It‘s not true. If you don‘t want to be treated like a king or an emperor, they won‘t treat you that way. A friend of mine said to Dan Rather, fairly recently, before it all hit the fan, said I understand, I read in the paper—this was in a newspaper. He said, I read in the paper that perhaps you‘re going to go to CNN and anchor the 8:00 news across the board at CNN.
And when he told people he had said that to Rather, one person after another said, how could you how could you say that to him? How could you bring that up? It‘s as if, you know, the emperor‘s new clothes. You can‘t walk up to these guys. And I don‘t know about Brokaw and Jennings, so I‘m talking about Dan. You can‘t go up and say certain things because all their enablers—and, Joe, you hit it. That was the perfect word.
All their enablers say, you can‘t talk to him that way. You can‘t speak that way. You can‘t say this. You can‘t say that. And you know what? As long as that goes on, you‘re right. It‘s not healthy. And you know what else? It results in what we‘re talking about tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re exactly right, Bernie. And I want to talk about the report when we come back, specific portions that I know you‘re going to be very interested in where they blamed incompetence and not bias on this story running. I know you‘re going to have a lot to say when we come back in a second. I‘ll be talking to you.
Also going to be bringing in Hugh Downs when we return in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a second.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re talking about the Rather-gate report that came out today. Longtime “20/20” anchor Hugh Downs weighs in when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Bernie Goldberg still with us.
And we are honored to bring you Hugh Downs. He‘s of course the former host of ABC‘s “20/20” and author of “Letters to a Great Grandson.”
Gentlemen, thanks for being with us.
And, Bernie, we want to go back to you. And this panel, in addressing the motivation behind the story, wrote this respond to that: “The panel is aware that some have ascribed political motivations to ‘60 Minutes‘ Wednesday‘s decision to air the September 8 segment just two months before the presidential election, while others further found political bias in the program itself. The panel reviewed this issue and found that certain actions that could support such charges. However, the panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at ‘60 Minutes Wednesday‘ drove either the timing of the airing of the segment or its content.”
Respond to that.
GOLDBERG: Yes, I think literally that is true. There is no smoking gun. There is no evidence that says there was a political bias. There never is.
They are not going to find a memo, you know, that Mary Mapes wrote to Dan Rather, that said, you know, let‘s take down George W. Bush. So I think they are right, that they couldn‘t conclude that. But let‘s connect some dots here. If this were a—not a Bush—well, let me put it this way. If the source wasn‘t someone with a vendetta against George Bush, but a vendetta against John Kerry, would the story have gotten on the air?
It‘s bias in this sense. It‘s bias in that, when they proceed with this, when they wouldn‘t have done it if the tables were turned, it tells me one thing. It tells me that they wanted the story to be true, and when you want a story to be true like that, that‘s when you‘re going to get in trouble. I think that‘s what happened in this particular case.
GOLDBERG: There is a culture at CBS News, and the facts fit the CBS News culture, and that‘s why it was allowed to go forward.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Bernie, the smoking gun really is Mary Mapes picking up the phone, calling Joe Lockhart, then working for John Kerry, saying, hey, this guy has got some information. You ought to call him.
GOLDBERG: But that‘s a Mary Mapes thing. Mary Mapes is separate from everybody else. She is the real villain in this. That Mary Mapes did that is beyond inexcusable.
I don‘t know that Dan Rather knew that she did that, or Andrew Heyward or anybody else. I do think that, even though you can‘t prove that it was that it was a political bias, a case of political bias, I think it certainly was, because we all know this only happened because—they were only this sloppy because it fit their preconceived notions about George Bush and about conservatives and about Republicans.
SCARBOROUGH: Hugh Downs, let me bring you in here. You obviously have been listening to this discussion and have been following the Dan Rather story for months.
What is your take on it? Is it a personal tragedy for Rather, or is this, like Bernie and I have been discussing, having more to do with arrogance that may build up when you‘re treated the way a lot of these network anchors are treated?
HUGH DOWNS, FORMER “20/20” HOST: Well, Joe, I think it‘s quite complicated. It has layers.
When you learn of something like this, you tend to think—you jump toward a villain . CBS News really blew it. And they were remiss in every way. And then you look at what the layers are. Competition has changed the face of the industry for—so much, I think, in the last decades. There was a time when I remember I was doing “The Today Show.” And at the end of a week, if our ratings were down a little, we would have a meeting and try to decide what we might do.
And, as you know, it has since developed into daily ratings and then hourly and then minute by minute.
DOWNS: This kind of neurosis is preposterous, when you think of it.
And that leads to a fashion of desiring to be first. And I think we ought to keep in mind that being right is more important than being first. That was one of the things that puzzles me about this particular mystery, the fact they were slated to go on, on the 29th and decided to do it on the 8th. I‘m not sure I can justify that in my mind simply as a desire to be first, so much as it—because it would have been better for them, had they been ideologically driven, to wait until closer to the election.
But something made them want to go very fast on this. And part of it might have been that there was a widespread belief, not just by CBS or news people, but by the public, that there was a story there about Bush‘s service in the Guard being less than exemplary. And so there was a feeling there was a story. And then they could go fast without being quite so intense about checking the authenticity of documents.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I want to ask you about checking the authenticity of documents and trusting producers.
For me, sitting in this chair, I‘m relatively new at this. I‘ve been doing it for about a year and a half. But I couldn‘t imagine blaming a producer for putting on forged documents in my program. That‘s the first thing, OK? But then I—to be fair to Rather, I remember when I was in Congress. After being there five, six, seven years, I had a chief of staff that I said, write the press release. I could be dead for six months and nobody would know it, because I can trust you so much.
Did you have a relationship with producers at “20/20” so much so that you were willing to walk out on a professional tightrope and trust them to that extent, like Rather did with Mapes?
Well, I would have, and there was different levels of trust, because if it was a relatively unimportant matter, I trusted them implicitly. And I felt, even the researchers, if I could do the research myself, why would I need a researcher? And you can‘t do that. And Dan couldn‘t do that. Nobody in an anchor chair can do that.
So you have to trust them to a certain extent. But when it gets to something like you‘re leveling something at a sitting president, you have got to be a lot more cautious about how you check it. And it may have been that Dan himself wanted to get that on fast enough that he just felt he could he—he should trust them and go ahead.
And you‘re right. The buck stopped with him. So, it was kind of a tragedy for him. But, as has been pointed out, hierarchy demands that you don‘t—visibility brings some untouchability. And I think this is true. There‘s hierarchical things like that in the military, where the same crime that a criminal can—a corporal might be at eight years of hard labor, and a colonel gets busted to major.
That is just kind of a fact of life. But it has intensified I think in the television business, because visibility brings some kind of undeserved perks, as to how untouchable you are.
Now, Bernie, I will ask you the same question. Do you have producers in what you do now or what you did at CBS News that you build a relationship with that you trust so much that you feel like you can run in, in front of a camera, grab the information they‘ve given you and read it? And is that a mitigating factor in this case, or is the fact that it came 45, 50 days before a presidential election mean that Dan Rather has nobody to blame but himself?
GOLDBERG: No, I want to agree with you on almost all of the points you made.
And I think Dan got taken primarily by Mary Mapes. You know, we could sit here and tut-tut. But the fact is, if you‘re working with a producer that you really trust, because you‘ve known here in this case for years and years and years, and she goes totally nuts and misleads everybody, this is what makes me feel a little bad for Dan Rather.
But I want to add one thing. I feel much worse for the executive producer of the show and his lieutenant, Josh Howard and Mary Murphy, because those two people didn‘t get to see the footage until they were in New York in the screening room. And when you‘re screening stuff, you don‘t ask 10 trillion questions about—you just decide whether the piece you‘re looking at makes sense and is a good piece.
Dan Rather, on the other hand, even though Mary Mapes is the real bad guy here, Dan Rather on the other hand was out in the field with her. You know, it‘s not as if he had nothing to do with the story. He was out in the field with her. And, you know, he knew that the main source was a guy who—a Democrat who had a vendetta against George Bush.
He should have been much more suspicious about that than he was. He knows that his other source was a guy who didn‘t like George Bush at all, who was the Democratic speaker of the house in Texas, or whatever he was. He should have known all those things. He was out there. You can see things. You can sense things.
And you know what? Dan Rather, as good as he is, as veteran a correspondent as he is, somehow, just somehow, didn‘t see all the things that he should have seen. That makes me wonder.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bernie Goldberg, thanks so much for being with us, the author of “Bias” and “Arrogance.” Again, you predicted this years ago. It would be very instructive for people to go back and read those books now.
GOLDBERG: It would be instructive if Dan Rather went back and read these books as well.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Bernie, he‘s going to have some time to do that now. Always getting the last shot in. Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.
And, Mr. Downs, if you will, stick around, because, when we return, I want to ask you about the future of CBS in the wake of this scandal and also what happens to network news next. We have got an all-star panel coming up with Mort Zuckerman and Hugh Downs. We‘ve Tony Blankley, Bob Kohn, Joe Rosen, many more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RATHER: But “60 Minutes” has now obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Colonel Killian‘s personal file, among them, a never-before-seen memorandum from May 1972 where Killian writes that Lieutenant Bush called him to talk about “how he can get out of coming to drill from now through November.
SCARBOROUGH: CBS fires some of its top execs and its most trusted producer. But is that enough or is the damage to the tiffany network‘s reputation permanent? That‘s next.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LES MOONVES, CBS CHAIRMAN: The report very clearly states Dan was working on the Republican National Convention. He was working on a hurricane story. And, clearly, when the story went on the air, I think Dan‘s biggest fault was trusting a producer who he had worked with before. Obviously, they had great success together as recently as the Abu Ghraib story. And he trusted the accuracy of the report because of the producer he was working with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: But as Ronald Reagan taught us all, trust but verify.
Will the memo-gate scandal transform the CBS newsroom or are they just rearranging deck furniture on the Titanic?
Hugh Downs, former anchor for “20/20,” still with us. And we are joined by Av Westin. He‘s former senior vice president of ABC News. We also have “U.S. News & World Report”‘s Mort Zuckerman and Tony Blankley of “The Washington Times.”
Mr. Westin, let me go to you.
You have here the president of CBS saying that Dan Rather in effect was too busy to check on the veracity of these documents? Do you buy that explanation?
AV WESTIN, FORMER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, ABC NEWS: I do. I think it‘s very glib of Bernie Goldberg and others to discuss political bias.
Let me tell what you the real world of broadcast journalism is all
about. And it is indicated in the report, a rush to get on the air. They
· their big mistake was essentially failing to validate, authenticate these documents, not because of bias, in my view, but because they got very sloppy and because over their shoulder was the determination that they had an hour to fill on September 8.
We‘ve got to get something on the air. And I think that they cut corners all over the place. If you look at the report—I read the report today—a lot of low-level people were expressing concern that these documents were not authentic. And yet, as the deadline moved closer, they all bailed out of their responsibilities. I think that that has got more to do with what happened there than political bias brought to the party by Dan Rather. I have no idea what Mary Mapes‘ agenda is.
SCARBOROUGH: Tony Blankley, you are in the news business now, formerly in the political business. But, like me, you have found, I‘m sure, that journalism is every bit as competitive as politics.
And, in fact, in politics, you can sort of—you get elected every two years if you‘re in the House and you can sit back for about a year or so and be introspective. In the news cycle, though, man, it‘s every 24 hours, that you have got to fill this space. Mr. Westin has a point, doesn‘t he?
TONY BLANKLEY, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON TIMES”: Look, I think there are a couple of arguments to look at.
First of all, look at what Dan Rather said the day after, when he when we already knew the report had come out. It had already been seriously criticized. And he came on the air and said that the report was based on unimpeachable sources. Now, we know who those sources were. We know they weren‘t unimpeachable, a couple of political partisan people. Did he really not even ask at that late date after the report, who are these sources I have been relying on?
And if he was told who they were, he is a man of almost half a century of political journalistic experience. Could he really, honestly characterize them as unimpeachable sources? And if he—obviously, he couldn‘t have. These people, whatever he wanted to say about them, they weren‘t unimpeachable sources.
I think, in that statement alone, Mr. Rather impeached his own credibility and is vulnerable to some charges against him internally within the organization. Second point, regarding Mapes, the report itself finds not only that she was sloppy and rushing and didn‘t do the job properly, but she had information that she affirmatively misreported regarding the—
Bush and whether he had help getting into the National Guard, whether he had—whether there were spaces in the opportunities for pilots and whether he had asked to go to Vietnam.
Now, there is a difference between sloppiness. I understand sloppiness. We are all sloppy sometimes. I understand competitiveness. But what was the motive in affirmatively misreporting the information? It seems to me we have to look at least to her, and I think to Mr. Rather, too, regretfully, what were their motives? This is not just sloppiness. It‘s not just the pressure of news.
With Mr. Rather, it was a day or two later when he went out and said it was an unimpeachable source.
SCARBOROUGH: Mort Zuckerman, we are talking about what happened in the past. Also, this report talks about how CBS can prevent this from occurring in the future. And one recommendation that was made today by the panel was to do this—quote—“Create a new senior standards and practices executive outside of the production structure of ‘60 Minutes‘ Wednesday and reporting directly to the president of CBS News.”
“New York Times” did it after their scandal. I love reading his reports about how “The New York Times” can be biased from time to time and how sometimes they use some not-so-great sources.
Do you think this is going to make any difference, though, with CBS News, if you have somebody like Mary Mapes that gins up this story and you have anchors that rush to air without checking all the facts?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT”: Look, there is no system that is invulnerable to total incompetence and even people who are being disingenuous or not telling the truth.
Mary Mapes, it seems to me, deserves everything that was said of her in this report. As Tony Blankley says, it is clear that she was literally misrepresenting what the facts were and what she knew to be the facts were, particularly with respect to some aspects of this story.
So, I do think that, in that regard, this is an entirely appropriate kind of condemnation of her, and that she should have been fired. Now, I do also think that it is valuable to have somebody in a sense who is going to be responsible for standards who is sort of outside of the normal production flow, as Av Westin was saying, where that stampede to fill the hour or whatever it is, particularly to try and get there first with what they think is a big story.
So I think that is a valuable, absolutely valuable person to have in an organization as far-flung as CBS News. I do want to go, though, to some of the things that have been said. I really—with all due respect, I have worked with both Dan Rather and Andy Heyward. I have to tell you, I think they are both men of genuine integrity.
And I do think, if this story had been about John Kerry, they would have pursued it equally. I don‘t think it is political bias that drives them. I think what does happen, once the story goes out there, is that instinct to sort of defend yourself and say, by God, our sources were unimpeachable. And it was wrong. And I don‘t know exactly what happened there.
But I do feel that it was amazing that they continued to, in a sense, support this story once it was out for as long as they did. And that I think is an absolute enormous error of judgment. We are all susceptible to making mistakes, but they really abused the privilege. And I do think this is something that Dan Rather paid a huge price for, because, in fact, as, really, the report sort of implies, he knew what was coming down the road, and he in a sense resigned from his coveted position as the anchor.
So, he paid a huge price, and he did apologize.
ZUCKERMAN: And I don‘t think you can ignore that.
Now, I‘m going to go to one other thing that was said earlier about “The New York Times.” The editor of “The New York Times” was not fired because of the Jayson Blair story. The editor of “The New York Times” was fired because, in the gathering of the fact when they had to discuss the Jayson Blair story, the entire staff criticized Howell Raines, to the point where it was clear to the publisher that he did not enjoy the confidence of his staff for all kinds of reasons unrelated to the Jayson Blair story.
But that was just sort of one example of the way they were running the place. And that was the reason why he was fired. So, it‘s not a fair analogy to say that he paid the price for the Jayson Blair story. He did not pay the price for the Jayson Blair story. He paid the price for the fact that his management style was so paranoid and absolutely authoritarian and almost irrational, that he lost the confidence of his staff.
So, it is not a comparable situation to quote “The New York Times” in this context.
SCARBOROUGH: Gentlemen, stay with us. We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re back with Hugh Downs and Mort Zuckerman.
Mr. Downs, let me go to you first.
Conservatives have forever accused the media of being liberal. We have a poll that the Pew Research Center put out. Seven percent journalists out of 500 local and national reporters questioned called themselves conservative; 34 percent say they are liberal; 54 percent say they‘re moderate.
Is there a liberal bias in the media or is the bias towards getting the story first and getting the highest ratings, therefore, making the most money?
DOWNS: Well, I think the latter, by far. And, of course, when the word liberal came to be a pejorative word, you began to wonder, you have to say that the press doesn‘t want to be thought of as merely liberal.
But people tend to be more liberated in their thought when they are closer to events and know a little more about what the background of what‘s happening. So, I suppose, in that respect, there is a liberal, if you want to call it a bias. The press is a little more in touch with what‘s happening.
Mort Zuckerman, let me—I‘ll ask you the same thing. And, also, I‘ve got to challenge you on what you said about Andy Heyward and Dan Rather. I understand both of them are very decent men, decent human beings. But, at the same time, Andy Heyward was the guy that allowed Rather to continue this cover-up, instead of being a stand-up guy, saying, you know what, Dan? You‘re wrong. The world knows you‘re wrong.
We had these conversations, Mort, you and I, night after night.
SCARBOROUGH: Said Dan Rather is the only guy on the planet that‘s not saying these documents are forged. If not Andy Heyward, whose job was it to tell Dan Rather to stand down?
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think that‘s an absolutely fair point to make. The only question is, does that justify firing him? That is a whole different kind of an issue.
And I think, as you saw from the report, they said that there are some things they have to do, but they obviously feel that he is doing a pretty good job and that that particular offense, which was a genuine screw-up, without question, is not a justification for firing him. Now, you may disagree with that. But I think that is their conclusion. I don‘t think it is entirely unreasonable.
You know, you don‘t want to destroy your whole organization in a sense that have you built up over the years under these circumstances. You‘ve lost, you know, some of your key producers. You‘ve taken your major anchorman, who‘s been around for 40 years, has been 20-odd years as your anchorman, basically, you‘ve eased him out in as graceful a way as possible. You‘ve still got a huge rebuilding job to do.
You don‘t want to just fire everybody in the place and be left with a nuclear bomb in your building. It just doesn‘t make sense to do it that way.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Mort Zuckerman, thanks so much for being with us, as always. We greatly appreciate it.
Hugh Downs, great honor to have you with us tonight, also. We really appreciate it.
Now we‘re going to bring in Bob Kohn. He‘s the author of “Journalistic Fraud.” And Jay Rosen. He‘s founder of a media blog called PressThink.org.
And, Jay, I read your blog. You are—take this as a positive. You are an absolutely horrendous blogger. You break all the rules. You write in paragraphs instead of sentences, and it‘s actually a very, very thoughtful blog, which I read every day.
JAY ROSEN, PRESSTHINK.ORG: Great.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to ask you what your take is on the Rather scandal and what it means to the future of media.
ROSEN: Well, the thing that‘s so surprising to me about it is that, when the story broke and it was Dan Rather‘s story that was in question, CBS News entered extremely dangerous period, when their reporting was challenged.
But more than that, the public face of the network, the anchor of the newscast, but also the representative of CBS News, was himself involved in compounding the error, and, in effect, took the reputation of the whole network on his shoulders, put it in peril. And the rest of the news division stood by mute and dumb. And I just think it is extraordinary that this happened, that Andrew Heyward is still in his job, and that the crumbling of credibility, that anybody paying attention to the Internet could discover within 48 hours, was missing, was absent, was unknown within CBS News, which is why I wrote something at my Web log, called: “Did the president of CBS News have anyone in charge of reading the Internet and giving him updates?”
Because, if he had, he would have known on Friday. The story ran Wednesday. He would have known on Friday that he was in deep trouble with this story. And only one person, only one person, could stop Dan Rather from big-footing the whole news division and the doubts of other professionals at CBS News. The only person who could have prevented that was Andrew Heyward. And it is his job as president.
SCARBOROUGH: And he did not do it.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, Bob Kohn, 10 years ago, this would have never happened. I talked about Jay Rosen‘s blog. There is 1,000 other blogs out there.
And, by the way—Jay is not—for those of you who haven‘t read it, Jay is not a conservative blogger. He is a journalist that reports on the way—and a professor, former dean of NYU Journalism School.
But there are thousands of bloggers out there, new media types. What does this mean to the future of media, the way people get their news?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: Yes. Yes. I run a blog myself and I actually link to Jay Rosen‘s blog as well.
Well, this is a new transparency that we‘re in, a transparency of the mainstream media that is being looked into by the alternative media. First, it was talk radio, then cable news, and now the Internet. And I don‘t think that the mainstream media, who has had a monopoly over setting the agenda, a monopoly over determining what is the lead story or what the front-page story is vs. what‘s buried and what‘s covered, is now being altered.
Drudge Report, for example, when he puts something on his front page with an alarm, all right, he is taking something that is buried deep within the mainstream media and bringing it up and raising the agenda. This is what the bloggers did. Dan Rather comes out with this report. The bloggers immediately recognize that these documents are forgeries or they appear to be forgeries, and they go ahead and change the agenda.
They made the agenda the story itself. And I think this only bodes well for journalism. It‘s great for the country, because this competition in the marketplace for ideas is going to help the public distill the truth. When you have competition, you‘re definitely going to have better information and better decisions being made by the public and their elected representatives. This is really, I think, great news.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree with you.
Jay Rosen, Bob Kohn, thanks for joining us. Unfortunately, really packed show, but we‘re going to ask you back tomorrow night.
And we‘ll be right back in one second.
SCARBOROUGH: Heads have rolled at CBS. Now they‘re going to roll at the U.N. We‘re going to get some answers about the Iraqi oil-for-food scam when the report on that scandal comes out tomorrow.
But we‘ve got a lot more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Two final thoughts.
The smartest man in TV, Les Moonves, is going to use this as opportunity to change CBS News forever. He is a happy man tonight, believe it or not.
Secondly, Andy Heyward, he is not going to be around in a year.
That‘s a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY prediction.
We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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