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Commentary on the present and future of culture, politics, economics, and social values................... "At any given instant/All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,/And facts have no endurance." W.H. Auden.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Rather: the Functional Equivalent of Being Fired

The report is out on the CBS News debacle over President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Some firings are the result, but they are limited. The president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward, and Dan Rather have survived. Many people think saving these two damages the integrity of CBS News even more than the original story did. (See http://www.ratherbiased.com and http://www.rathergate.com).

But read the comments of CBS Corporation chairman Leslie Moonves to get a different view:

In Mr. Moonves's official statement, he said, "Dan Rather has already apologized
for the segment and taken responsibility for his part in the broadcast. He
voluntarily moved to set a date to step down from the 'CBS Evening News' in
March of 2005." He added, "We believe any further action would not be
appropriate."


The statement is clear: Moonves thinks Rather has, in effect been fired too. Rather's agreement to a set date for retirement is the functional equivalent of being fired. He was allowed to save face. But the story that he will continue on as a reporter for 60 Minutes is a transparent fiction. When Rather leaves the CBS Evening News anchor chair in March, he will be gone for good. As gone as Walter Cronkite was when he stepped down.

"Retirement" is often a refined synonym for "fired."

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