Welcome to another installment of "Tuesdays With Morley," a semi-regular feature in which Daily Intel runs into Morley Safer at an event (he's quite the man-about-town, you know) and quizzes the venerable 60 Minutes reporter about the events of the day. In the past, Safer has told us stories about being a journalist back in the day and sounded off on current media issues, like whether Katie Couric's going to Iraq was actually just bullshit hype. Last night, we saw him at the premiere party for John Adams at MoMA, and Morley took a few minutes out from admiring the framers to talk about the supposed media bias toward Obama, the new Wall Street Journal, and the controversy surrounding his old CBS teammate Dan Rather.
Everybody who is anybody in television news — with one glaring omission — showed up for last week’s twentieth-anniversary blowout for 48 Hours, which, after 60 Minutes, is CBS News’ most durable magazine program. On hand for the party in the twentieth-floor lounge at 230 Fifth Avenue were CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, CBS News president Sean McManus, 48 Hours executive producer Susan Zirinsky, former CBS president Sir Howard Stringer, and former news president Andrew Heyward.
Missing was Dan Rather.
The original anchor of 48 Hours — who, along with Stringer, got the show off the ground in 1986 with a highly rated pilot, "48 Hours on Crack Street," and pushed the network suits to put it on the weekly schedule — wasn’t invited. In an awkward phone call before the celebration, Zirinsky explained to Rather that he couldn’t come under the circumstances.
Part of what Dan Rather was hoping for, in his $70 million lawsuit against former employer CBS, was the ability to open to public scrutiny the company's actions that led up to his ouster in 2005. So it's no surprise that when the network asked Manhattan Supreme Court to keep documents concerning Memogate private, the former anchor got a bit upset. CBS originally said it would keep things public, but they have backed off that. Rather, who wanted the public to see all the information involving the media giant's investigation into the origins of disputed memos about President Bush's National Guard Service, railed against network execs. "It is a fact that corporate overlords working in secret collusion with the powers in Washington are intruding far too often in far too many newsrooms," he said. "Corporate overlords? "Secret collusion"? "Powers"? What is this, a Wachowski movie? Whether or not he is right, Rather isn't doing himself any favors in the battle to rescue his reputation. He, of all people, should know how much phrasing matters.
Rather: CBS Bosses Hiding Truth [NYDN via Jossip]
Breaking: It looks like former CBS News anchor Dan Rather will indeed get his day in court. On Wednesday evening Justice Ira Gammerman of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan made a preliminary ruling denying the TV network's motion to dismiss Rather's $70 million lawsuit. "I think discovery should go forward," said Gammerman. Rather's suit, you'll recall, claims CBS unfairly shuffled him off the air after that infamous 60 Minutes Wednesday story about Bush's performance (or lack thereof) in the Texas National Guard. Rather alleges that being shown the door was just the network's misguided attempt to placate the White House and shield CBS's then-parent company Viacom from political fallout. You know, the usual reasons for dismissal from a high-profile media job.
• Jeff Bercovici wants to know: "What's Regan's price for selling out her country?" After all, if Regan's info on Giuliani is that damaging, shouldn't she divulge it in any case, no matter how much Uncle Murdoch is willing to offer? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Dan Rather's lawyers are getting fed up with CBS nondisclosure agreements. "Who do these guys think they are? The National Security Agency?" [NYO]
• Intrepid Observer reporter spends 45 minutes staring through a window just to see who showed up to a lame Times party. Now that's journalism! [Media Mob/NYO]
• How did Judith Regan's high-level lawyers let her bat-shit-crazy legal complaint get through? Oh that's right, she's Judith Regan. [Legal Pad/Fortune]
• CBS finally got around to filing their motion to dismiss Dan Rather's suit. The network claims they are "mystified" by Rather's "bizarre allegations," and that the lawsuit amounts to a "regrettable attempt by plaintiff Dan Rather to remain in the public eye, and to settle old scores and perceived slights, based on an array of far-fetched allegations." [NYO]
• Karl Rove signed on to become a regular contributor to Newsweek. Maybe they should consider changing their slogan to "fair and balanced"? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
Remember Alive? The book/early–Ethan Hawke movie where the plane crashes and everyone's starving so they become cannibals? Okay, whatever we are old. The point is, we're kind of reminded of that whenever a journalist covers another journalist's missteps in that over-the-top holier-than-thou tone. Times are tough, and so they're eating their own in order to save themselves. We thought about this last week when Katie Couric clamped down on Dan Rather's "sloppy reporting" with her little white teeth, and today, the smell of media blood is in the air again. Over at the New York Press, Matt Elzweig feasted on the flesh of the Times Magazine's Deborah Solomon in a deeply self-serious "examination of the questionable ethical choices one very prominent reporter made on behalf of the nation’s top newspaper" blah blah blah blah Jayson Blair blah blah.
Darth Rather choked back tears today during an emotional interview with "Q&A Café" host Carol Joynt, saying "You've never met anybody who had more respect for the presidency than I do." But when Joynt asked him whether he'd like to subpoena George Bush as a witness in his lawsuit against CBS, he said he'd "like to not answer the question." Joynt took his response, and his knowing look, to mean that he's strongly considering the possibility. Rather also got teary when he talked about family members and close associates who said he shouldn't file the suit. And, he insisted, the whole thing wasn't born out of resentment. "I'm not angry," he said. "I'm not bitter." We're betting, though, that he's at least a little bit salty about the way Katie Couric last night called out his reporting in the National Guard story that got him in trouble. "There were things in there that were quite egregious in terms of how it was reported," she told the National Press Club. "And sloppy work is sloppy work They did not dot their I's and cross their T's when it came to that story And our job is to get right." Which probably comes as a surprise to Rather, who thought Couric's job was to take the news and "dumb it down" and "tart it up."Couric Weighs in on Iraq, Rather [Yeas and Nays/San Francisco Examiner]
Rather Chokes Up, and Hunkers Down [Yeas and Nays/San Francisco Examiner]
• Highly paid associates are wasting lots of time on Facebook, to the tune of $50 million a year in hours the little bastards should be billing. [NYO]
• Cadwalader's bracing for a double whammy: While trying to deal with the massive slowdown in its core mortgage practice area, the firm's also facing a $70 million legal malpractice suit for mortgage warrantees from the late nineties. [Law.com]
• Michael Mukasey, attorney-general nominee and New York homeboy, is facing complaints that he used a U.S. marshal to take out the trash, and we don't mean that figuratively. [AP via Law.com]
Ted Koppel got kind of gushy about Dan Rather at a Fordham University forum put on by the National Academy of Arts and Sciences this morning. According to TV Week, Koppel said he "hurt" for the former CBS News anchor, who recently filed a $70 million lawsuit against the network and Viacom. Koppel characterized the situation as "a travesty" and said he hopes the lawsuit will give Rather "relief from his [emotional] pain." And why wouldn't it? Personally, we can't think of a better way to heal one's emotional pain than a nice roll around in a giant pile of money.
Koppel on Rather Suit: Squeezing Out of Newsman was a ‘Travesty’ [TV Week]
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s request to lay a wreath at ground zero was the unlikeliest wish in a week of ambitious schemes. Hillary Clinton took a second swing at universal health care, laying out a $110 billion program. Rudy Giuliani crossed the pond to London to rub shoulders with Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown, then suggested that Israel join nato. Dan Rather sued CBS for $70 million.
Most people seem to think Dan Rather is nuts for filing his vengeful $70 million lawsuit against CBS. And frankly, amid all of the hubbub and surprise, it's hard to remember the facts. But Mary Mapes, the 60 Minutes producer who fell on her own sword for Rather during the whole Bush–National Guard reporting mess, walks readers through it pretty simply in her Huffington Post blog, and she raises a good point. Rather, she says, is right in wanting to defend his reputation over this point – and might do some serious damage.
Renée Zellweger's neighbor called the FDNY on her because she had a fire going in her fireplace. Jennifer Lopez and her mom don't talk anymore, perhaps because of Marc Anthony. Mary Louise Parker took her adopted (and Brat Pitt–approved) African baby to a doctor's appointment in New York. Blackstone chairman Steven Schwarzman's charitable foundation has only $63,424 in assets and is holding just $991 for charitable purposes. Kelly Klein is expected to make $3 million by selling jewels ex-hubby Calvin bought her for $200,000 in 1987. Kanye West went to Blue Ribbon with a leather-clad dominatrix and some models. George Clooney was jokingly slapped by "a really hot girl" at Bungalow 8's New York branch. Kim Kardashian and Terrence Howard were caught making out at Butter and Tenjune.
Holy crap! Darth Rather is suing CBS for $70 million bucks! The suit, which he filed today, also names Leslie Moonves; Viacom and Sumner Redstone; and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News. Rather is saying that the network “damaged his reputation” and made him a “scapegoat” in an attempt “to pacify the White House.” Um, yeah. What took you so long, dude? He’s seeking $50 million in punitive damages and $20 million in compensatory damages, which should buy the 75-year-old anchor a nice Fuck You mansion in which he can while away his remaining days.
Rather Files $70 Million Lawsuit Against CBS [NYT]
Fewer Hollywood stars than usual are expected at Fashion Week when it starts September 5, because the Emmys and the MTV Video Music Awards are the same week. Dan Rather was confused by the "Thriller" dance stunt performed by Katie Couric's staff last week, though he thinks her job is safe. Arianna Huffington may be dating Newark mayor Cory Booker. Cuba Gooding Jr., who is married with three kids, recently made out with five girls in one night at Tenjune. Jeremy Piven got into a heated argument with his mother at Nobu Malibu, though it's unclear about what. Gwyneth Paltrow has been trekking around Spain with Mario Batali for a PBS cooking show (and hubby Chris Martin almost didn't get into the premiere of her brother's new movie). Cameron Diaz had a romantic dinner with John Mayer at Mai House in Tribeca. Residents of Martha's Vineyard are happy that Larry David and Laurie are broken up and that Larry is dating again.
Dan Rather insists it's not about Katie Couric — it's about Edward R. Murrow. After Les Moonves decried the ex–CBS anchor's indictment of Katie-era CBS (specifically, his use of the words "dumbing it down" and "tarting it up") as "sexist" yesterday, Rather issued a clarification through his new employer, HDNet. As nobody gets HDNet, here's what he said: "This is not about Katie Couric. Never has been … This is not about gender, this is about leadership at the very top of CBS. Les Moonves talked about 'blowing up' CBS News and [de-emphasizing] the landmark journalistic work of Edward R. Murrow." And so, in one fell swoop, Rather's comment turned from beating up on a newbie to standing up for a mentor. Neat trick, if it works.
More From Rather [TV Newser]