Rather Pressured Cbs To Air Discredited Report, Says Book
Although he continues to maintain that he had little involvement with the 60 Minutes Wednesday report on George Bush's service in the National Guard that led to his ouster as CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather in fact pressured the program's producers to air the report before it was thoroughly vetted, according to media writer Howard Kurtz. Internet gossip Matt Drudge has posted an excerpt from Kurtz's book Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News Race, set to be published on Tuesday, in which Kurtz claims that Rather phoned Josh Howard, producer of the 60 Minutes show, the day before the September 2004 broadcast demanding to know how the controversial segment was being promoted. Howard reportedly replied that there would be no promotions until the CBS lawyers had signed off on the segment and the White House had had a chance to reply. Rather responded that he was aware that other reporters were working on the story. "We're going to lose our exclusive," he reportedly said, then told Howard that he planned to give one of the documents in CBS's possession about Bush's National Guard service to the New York Times, noting that "they'll have to credit CBS News." Kurtz claims that Howard told Rather, "You can't do that either. ... We haven't finished vetting this." At that point, Kurtz claims, "Rather grumbled and hung up."