It’s a Friday evening in New York in the early spring of 2006. I’m in my combined 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II office at 555 West 57th, across the street from the old renovated milk barn that has been CBS News world headquarters for many years. Out the window is a glorious view of the Hudson River, the view stretching across the river and into the trees and rocks of New Jersey.
There’s nobody else around. It is quiet as a tomb, and my mind begins to wander: a kaleidoscope of thoughts. There are smiles, worries and concerns, and flashes of the past. I’ve been a professional journalist, a reporter, for 60 years, 44 of them at CBS News, 24 of them as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News—the network’s flagship broadcast. They called it “being the face and the voice” of CBS’s storied News Division. With the exception of Britain’s BBC, it was the best known and most honored broadcast news operation in the world.
But that’s all in the past. As “the face and voice of CBS News,” Edward R. Murrow is long gone. So is Walter Cronkite. And so am I. This was supposed to be a new beginning for me, but it is feeling very much like the beginning of the end. At least at CBS.
I almost desperately don’t want it to be. I am still hoping against hope that somehow, someway, things will work out and I can stay. In denial? Well, I don’t think so. But time and the tides are running in that direction.
An old friend who, like me, grew up working in the oilfields and refineries of the Texas Gulf Coast as the son of an oilfield hand had called a short while earlier. He’s been retired for a few years and called just to touch base, tell a few jokes and in general be supportive and encouraging.
“Rags,” he finally said, using my father’s nickname that had been passed on to me in my youth. “You don’t want to face it, I know. But you’re finished there. They have decided to scapegoat you, throw you to the wolves and be rid of you. They’re doing it to save themselves. It ain’t fair or right, but it’s what is. And the sooner you recognize it and deal with it, the better off you’re going to be.”
He went on to say some overcomplimentary things about “what a great reporter you’ve been . . . best of your time and one of the best ever . . . who’s given CBS News some of the best years they’ve ever had,” and so on. That kind of thing. But by this time, I had tuned him pretty much out. My mind was racing and wandering.
To hell with this, I was thinking. He’s a friend, naturally he’s going to say those things. He means well, and I appreciate it. More than he can know. He’s trying to be helpful. But I know my weaknesses and strengths. This includes knowing, really knowing down deep, that I had wanted since childhood to do extended great reporting, work that might stand with the best of my time, if not the best ever. And I had not achieved that. Not nearly. Not yet. This is not false humility. It’s not humility of any kind. It’s how I genuinely feel.
This is an excerpt from RATHER OUTSPOKEN by Dan Rather with Digby Diehl. Copyright © 2012 by Martland, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
One of the preeminent journalists of our time, Dan Rather has seen it all in his storied career. He covered Hurricane Carla live from the Galveston Seawall (setting the blueprint for future storm reportage), was the first TV journalist to report that JFK was assassinated, accompanied Nixon to China, succeeded Walter Cronkite at the “CBS Evening News” and won every prestigious journalism award there is.
In Rather Outspoken, Dan Rather looks back on his life in the business to discuss the stories, big and small, that made his career so unforgettable. Told in the straightforward and conversational manner that set him apart from his peers, the book includes discussions on everything from how he earned the nickname “Hurricane Dan” and his coverage of the JFK assassination to the Abu Ghraib story, the George W. Bush Air National Guard controversy and his dismissal from CBS.
Packed with intriguing anecdotes about the many personalities Rather interviewed or worked with over the years, the book also includes never-before-revealed personal observations and commentary, including his thoughts on the state of journalism today, and what he sees for its future.
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group USA ( May 01, 2012 )
Item #: 13-576163
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.8inches
Product Weight: 14.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Rather would rather not admit the rather questionable letter was a forgery and rather blame everybody else. Rather than fess up he would rather go through the twilight of his rather progressive reporting of the days events in a rather liberal mindset. I'd rathe r not read a self serving rather poorly written book.
Reviewer: Frank J