A bum’s rush

So much for loyalty or years of service. CBS is giving former anchor and longtime newsman Dan Rather the bum’s rush.

Reports CBS News:

Rather’s departure from the "Evening News" was clouded by his high-profile role in a flawed CBS News story about President Bush’s National Guard service and some harsh comments from old CBS colleagues, including Cronkite, who suggested Schieffer should have been given the anchor job years ago.

In September 2004, Rather was the correspondent on a "60 Minutes" Wednesday piece that used documents that purported to show Mr. Bush received preferential treatment during his years in the Texas Air National Guard.

The authenticity of the documents was almost immediately questioned, but CBS News and Rather continued to defend the story long after it was broadcast. An independent panel that probed the network’s handling of the story concluded CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece.

Although the Guard story was a low point in Rather’s career, it was far from his only brush with controversy. There were well-publicized run-ins with two top Republicans, Richard Nixon and President Bush the elder. And in 2001, he made an embarrassing appearance at a Democratic fundraiser in Texas hosted by his daughter.

These events contributed to Rather’s status as a lightning rod for conservative critics who view him as a symbol of what they see as the media’s liberal bias.

Ouch! Rather, in a statement, answered back:

Too much is made of anchors and their personalities, their ups and downs. The larger issues—the role of a free press and of honest, real news in a democracy, the role of technology in supporting a free press, the "corporatization" of news and its effects on news content—all deserve more attention, more discussion and more passionate debate.

This isn’t the first time CBS has mistreated a news star. Legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow’s groundbreaking See It Now TV newsmagazine was shoved off the primetime schedule and relegated to periodic Sunday afternoon appearances after then CBS chairman Bill Paley decided it was too controversial.

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