Who Really Dumbed Down Cbs News?
Although former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has denied CBS chief Les Moonves's charge that his remarks that CBS was "dumbing down and tarting up" the news were sexist, the group American Women in Radio & Television is having none of it. In a statement, the group's president, Maria Brennan, remarked, "I can only note that never have I heard the word 'tart' in reference to the male gender." Rather also came under attack by Chicago Tribune critic Phil Rosenthal, who noted that the downward spiral of CBS News began when Rather himself took the helm of the CBS Evening News in 1981. He noted that early on Rather began anchoring the news in sweaters "to soften his image," once fronted a 90-minute special about Paul McCartney, and recently agreed to appear in an episode of ABC's upcoming drama, Dirty Sexy Money. Rosenthal then asked, "To what extent are CBS News' problems the result of an infrastructure that crumbled on Rather's watch and a division that failed to develop a possible replacement for him?" And Brian Montopoli, who oversees the CBS blog Public Eye, remarked that Rather has become "the John McCain of journalism" -- making "ill-advised comments without seeming to give much thought to the consequences. ... With his clumsy phrasing, Rather left the door open to the sexism charges -- and Moonves seized that opportunity instead of engaging Rather's argument directly." And, appearing on Larry King's talk show Wednesday night, Today show host Matt Lauer said that Rather's comments put him in a "lose-lose situation." However, he added, "I think the controversy is an inside baseball controversy when it comes right down to it."