Skip to comments.Civil war at '60 Minutes'
Posted on 09/22/2004 6:25:13 AM PDT by presidio9
A war of words has erupted within the halls of "60 Minutes" following Dan Rather's admission that CBS News aired a report on President Bush using questionable documents. On one side of the battle is Steve Kroft, a veteran correspondent on the Sunday edition of "60 Minutes." On the other is Don Hewitt, founder of the pioneering newsmagazine.
Kroft argues it's unlikely the Sunday show would have made the mistake of using the documents that bolstered Rather's report - which aired on the Wednesday telecast, formerly known as "60 Minutes II."
So much so, Kroft and staffers on the Sunday telecast want it to be clear - they weren't the ones that were duped.
"We're all afraid of that, that's our biggest concern," Kroft told the Daily News. "We've held off from saying it, we've held off from making any comments as long as there was some hope the documents would prove to be real.
"Now, I think it's our responsibility to try to draw a distinction between the two broadcasts," Kroft said, admitting that the original show had been burned in the past and had learned from its mistakes. "They've done a lot of great work over there ... particularly with the Abu Ghraib story, they didn't rush that story on the air. This one, for whatever reason, they did."
Kroft said he was surprised when "60 Minutes II" dropped the "II" in its name, but noted yesterday that in CBS' statements regarding the mistake, the show had become "60 Minutes Wednesday."
The second edition of "60 Minutes" was a contentious project from the start. Hewitt, the creator of "60 Minutes," fought against expanding the franchise but was overruled. The second show launched Jan. 13, 1999.
"I think they've acquitted themselves nicely," said Hewitt, who was forced out as executive producer last season. "When I objected to there being a second show, I didn't know how good it was going to be."
He scolded his old crew yesterday for sniping at their beleaguered colleagues.
"Now, when the other one is in trouble, they're piling on. It's unfair, uncalled for and not the way that grown men should act," Hewitt said.
Kroft is not alone in questioning what led to Rather's having to admit the show made a mistake.
"There's anger in the rank and file that this could have happened," said a CBS News source.
Rather told The News Monday he was appreciative of those who have expressed support.
"And for those who haven't been, including those who haven't been and thought they needed to anonymously take their shots, I say, I understand," he said.
Meanwhile, attempts to trace the origins of the fraudulent paperwork have foundered on attacks from Democrats and Republicans suggesting that their political opponents concocted them.
USA Today, which also received the papers from anti-Bush activist Bill Burkett, reported yesterday that Burkett told them he was offered the documents from a woman who identified herself on the phone as Lucy Ramirez.
But when he rendezvoused with Ramirez, an unidentified man showed up instead and dropped them off.
USA Today said it has been unable to trace Ramirez.
New Yorkers go easy on Dan
New Yorkers were generally forgiving of Dan Rather's running a story based on unproven documents that attacked President Bush.
"Rather made a mistake and he was man enough to admit it." - Kaiseem Felder, 49, Xerox technician, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
"All I could think of was this is what he will be remembered for after such a successful career. But mistakes happen all the time in the news." - Jane Marie Giustra, 24, sales assistant, Hoboken, N.J.
"Everything they said about Bush is true; they just haven't found the evidence yet." - Dale Channer, 34, florist, the Bronx.
"He screwed up and ought to be held accountable. He should not be fired but he should apologize formally to the President." - Jim Oldham, 42, salesclerk, Weehawken, N.J.
"I feel bad for Dan Rather because he is such a respected person. CBS should take more time to research and look at who was giving them the information." - Nichole Anderson, 34, event planner, North Brunswick, N.J.
"He should have gotten the facts right, but it's not uncommon what he did." - Eddie Tallarine, 37, electrician, Massapequa, L.I.
"CBS should have checked the information before they came out with it, but the reputation of CBS is good. ... It was one mistake." - Fernando Monte, 30, consultant, Yonkers.
"I view him as an anchorperson, not the person really out gathering the information. I don't think he should resign over this." - Cynthia Lazzari, 44, health-care information manager, Philadelphia.
CBS would be smart to sell the show to one of the other networks and close up shop. Do it before its value has completely disintegrated.
No War for Oil. Bush Lied People Died. Bush AWOL blah blah blah
Priceless! Have another glass of Kool-aide.
When you drop atom bombs you need to be very careful about collateral damage.
60 minutes is no more. Radiation sickness will kill it.
"Everything they said about Bush is true; they just haven't found the evidence yet." - Dale Channer, 34, florist, the Bronx. "
Without 'evidence', that's called 'speculation and conjecture'.
Or 'wishful thinking'.
They are just repeating what they are constantly being fed. I actually enlightened a couple of libs with Byron York's article.
The old fogeys like Wallace and Safer are noticeably quiet. It is the "new" guys like Kroft - those who haven't been there since Noah let loose the birds - who are speaking up. This dispute sounds generational. The old boys are circling the wagons.
All they'd have to do is stop by the fresh fruit aisle at their local supermarket.
On another note, it was inevitable that this kind of internecine warfare would break out at CBS, as people scramble to protect their reputations and exploit the situation to advance their careers, settle old scores, etc.
Blinders on? Check.
Bias engaged? Check.
OT: vanity fair is very liberal, right? its that same graydon putz that writes for LA times or some such thing? I only remember bits and pieces but I need to dispute someone that claims you'll get the 'truth' about the GWB 2000 election and the supreme court from this mag.
I can just see Dale saying this while making a flower arrangement with his limp wrists.
I hope you're right! Good bye to bad garbage.
That's a very telling statement, Stevie...
I have heard this point of view stated a over and over by people I work with. I guess evidence means nothing to them. I wonder how they would feel if they were on trail and this form of "reasoning" was used to convict them. It's so typical of liberalism. Facts mean nothing. What is important is how one feels.
Dale Channer, 34, florist, the Bronx.
Dale Channer appears to be another hostile Girly it/homosexual, who hates GW.
Dale, go arrange your flowers and STFU.
Since most of the CBS stars are well past retirement age, its in Kroft's interest to see them kicked aside. Go Steve !