Accuracy in Media

dan rather on piers morgan

Dan Rather, the disgraced former anchor of the CBS Evening News, appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN and defended 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan, who is currently on leave after the network admitted that important parts of her report on Benghazi were inaccurate. Rather compared her situation to the one he faced in 2004 after he inaccurately reported on President Bush’s National Guard service:

With our story, the one that led to our difficulty, no question the story was true. What the complaint was, was ‘Okay, your story was true, but where you got to the truth was flawed.’ That’s not the case with the Benghazi story. Unfortunately — and there’s no joy in saying it — they were taken in by a fraud.

That’s not exactly correct. The independent panel’s report on Rather’s 60 Minutes segment on President Bush said it was the fierce conviction of some at CBS News that the story was true, that led to their problems. The report said that they ignored mounting evidence that there were problems with the documents on which they based their story. But it was far more than just phony documents that was wrong with the CBS report.

Perhaps Rather wanted desperately to believe his Bush story was true, seeing it as having Watergate-type implications. He even went as far as assuring CBS News President Andrew Heyward that he had not “been involved in this much checking on a story since Watergate,” and that it was “very big.”

According to the report, Rather also assured Heyward that the story had been “thoroughly vetted,” which the panel found to be untrue.

Since leaving CBS, Rather has made it part of his life’s mission to try and convince the public that his story was true—even suing CBS and writing a book to present his side of the story.

But  instead of another Watergate, he wound up with “Rathergate,” and an inglorious end to his CBS News career.

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