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September 21, 2007


oops, the above is by Sara.

The "Tiffany Network" was coined in 1950 at the time that CBS debuted the world's first commercial color TV sets installed in the Old Tiffany Bldg. on 37th St. At that time, CBS News was the cutting edge of American commercial, cultural and technological prowess. Today, network news is a loss leader with a shrinking, aging, downmarket audience broadcasting through a soon to be obsolete media to a declining empire.

Katie is the perfect botoxed face for that.

Sara, what an interesting post. Thank you.

I hope Mark Cuban is on Rather's side for the entire run. Most of Dan's old "friends" at CBS won't be since any trial will show their acquiescence in reporting the corporate news.

The corporations are in the media business to stifle any real reporting which could affect their bottom line.

Mary Mapes' book about the whole sordid affair is well worth a read.

Fascinating post, Sara. I had never heard anything of the "Tiffany Network".

Fascinating post. I think we got to see Katie's idea of reporting with Gen. Petraeus.

I didn't know Mapes had a book out.
(psst - extra keystrok in the heading - Tiffiany v. Tiffany ;)

Oops, Thank you!

Sara, I knew this was by you before I saw your name. You've carved a nice niche for yourself here. Thanks for your perspective.

great piece but can we fix the typo?

I love Sara's posts. I just wish they were more frequent.

I agree with the characterization of Rather as more technician newsgatherer than the symbolic aggregator public face of the newsorganization later assigned to him. The same happened with HuntleyBrinkley, after one good convention season in a cramped press enclave behind glass, their next convention appearance was considerably diluted and more patina of fame scripted, though still incisive. Next convention aisles got so congested and portable equipment remained so cumbersome, the dealmaking ambience became even less capturable on live video, though still documentary quality for later editing. Denouement, the era of produced conventions permeated with saccarine homilies and staged casts of characters. Rather has braved a lot of scrapes and grew in the era when that morphing of news reportage was occurring. Perhaps his effort will improve the lot of the resident ombudsperson at the network. One article I read when his long overdue news suppression courtpapers were filed this week opined that his likely synthesis resolution of his grievance might be as simple as his launching a blog. But I think he genuinely wants to have a salubrious effect on his former employer, even while suing it. I was acquainted with one of the first senior officials in the network to get dismissed over the forgery of papers in the TANG incident, which was kind of a pecking-order sloughing of personnel process eventually. Certainly Rather deserves to restore some of the integrity of his credentials.

Great piece Sara. Thank you, I learned a lot!

Sara, Mary Mapes' book is "Truth and Duty; The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power."

Mary, it looks as though I should have directed the information on Mapes' book to you.

"Sara, I knew this was by you before I saw your name. You've carved a nice niche for yourself here. Thanks for your perspective."

My thoughts exactly.

I learned some new things about Murrow and Rather...very interesting read, Sara! Thank you.

That world is gone, and it isn't coming back. But thanks for a nostalgic evocation, Sara.

To put it mildly, Bush is no FDR either...

No, Bush is no FDR, in fact he hates FDR because the wealth of part of the Prescott Bush Family was taken by Morgenthau and the Department of the Treasury under control from 1942 till 1949 under the Trading with The Enemy Act. That's why he went after Social Security -- an FDR surviving program. Believe me, it is personal.

Beyond that, a Civil Suit opens it up for Rather to take depositions. First ask the CBS executives what WH poo bahs they talked with, and then haul them in for depositions. Then go for the truth of the matter on the BUSH/TANG stuff, and maybe then even ask the NYTimes management (and other news agencies) to come and depose themselves on WH pressure to script the story. Rather may not get 70 million, but he may be in the end a fantastic reporter of truth.

I disagree that we can't have decent news back again. We should not be cynics about it all. No matter what, those frequencies still have a mite of "public and community interests" about them -- and I think the more we know about the inventors of the systems, the more we can demand.

The biography is fairly obscure, but if you can find a copy, I recommend "Murrow: His Life and Times" by A.M. Sperber, Freundlich Books, 1986. All 700 pages of it. It was supposed to have a major publisher, but the author would not cut, and thus a minor publisher. The Author is the daughter of someone on Murrow's lists that got out of Austria with family in 1939, and landed at Barnard College, and who spent years researching her topic.

Some civil law suits can accomplish much, others, as we have seen over the years, are dumbbells. They thud. But I have a sense this Rather case could accomplish much more than just money. He has a personal tort, but he can expand it all to deal with the environment.

I was glad to hear that Rather had decided to put the screws to CBS/Viacom/WhateverelseCorporation by suing them. 70-Million isn't too far off the mark for Dan, in a loss of wages sense. He made... What? 10? 20? 30? Million a year? So 70 isn't too far off the mark into the land of the absurdly putative NYC Law Suit. I wish him luck, as I'm sure that a gross majority of CBS' employees do as well. As mentioned above, "The Tiffany Network", can afford it, plus interest, without showing any serious loss. Worse comes to worse, they could fire an Assistant Vice President of News, or two, and get back their 70-Million in an afternoon.

However, I do think that the era of the, "Big Name/Big Money Talent", is over with Rather and Brokaw leaving and Jennings dieing almost as if on cue. Couric is thought of as eye-candy, to who and for whatever reason I don't know. But it's certainly NOT because of her journalism skills. (Fuckin' A!) So she wasn't an even trade no matter what they're paying her compared to Rather, (much less what Edward R. or Cronkite would be worth today!), she's not in the same league.

Linda Ellerbee, (talking about women journalists, SHE's one), tells a great story about Dan Rather: If TV had never been invented nor radio or newspapers, Dan would have gone around and told everybody the news, individually. One after another. (Or words to that effect.) That's how deeply ingrained news was or is in Rather's mind. So I have to disagree about the Reporter/Anchor divide. Dan was both and damn good at it because he loved doing it. I hoped he wouldn't take breaking up with CBS quietly. CBS, his home... Where he spent what? 40? 50? years, or more, between his Texas days and the Network stuff in NYC, until a few years back? That's a long time to work somewhere and not make a big splash when you leave!

I think he now regrets falling on his sword because it protected the wrong people. He didn't take one for the team and leave to save the careers of the segment producer and some of the other behind the scenes people because he was the million-dollar talent and had final say on the content of the segment. No. They all got shit-canned too. He saved the jobs of a bunch of suits from Team Redstone who could point at Rather and say, "Look! There's your coon-skin nailed to the barn door.", when chided by Rove or Vader or any of the other, 'Village', Mucky-mucks.

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