Poor old Dan Rather spends his afternoons wandering New York City’s Upper East Side, slipping into movie theatres to watch George Clooney’s mythological Edward R. Murrow movie, “Good Night (COMMA) and Good Luck.” No matter that old Dan, whose career touched on the Murrow era, knows that Clooney’s movie is historically inaccurate, that the Golden Age of CBS News was not as golden as any of us would like to believe, and that Edward R. Murrow was the father of tabloid celebrity journalism and a bit of a mythmaker himself; old Dan Rather can sit and stew in his memories, regret and bitterness.
Katie Couric will soon be the “voice of God, single anchor” hostess of CBS News, a judgmental perky, pudgeball whose hiring sealed CBS boss Les Moonves’ determination to blow up the program's "voice of God, single anchor" format and end the era and power of CBS News. Old Dan has been tossed aside. CBS isn’t renewing his contact and in fact is forcing him to leave early.
Readers of Tabloid Baby know that old Dan's wounds are, in part, self-inflicted, and are familiar with the way old Dan and his cloistered CBS News accolytes shaped American popular culture and politics with their once-powerful newscast, slipping in their political biases in the name of objectivity, and lying.
Dan Rather was lifted from local to network news by strapping himself to a tree during a hurricane. He became a national figure when he jumped the gun and reported President John F. Kennedy dead before the death was confirmed. Then he prayed Kennedy was really dead so he wouldn’t be fired.
Dan Rather was the only television reporter allowed to view the Zapruder film showing JFK being struck by the fatal bullets. Then he went on TV and lied about what he saw. The film clearly showed Kennedy’s head jerk back in an explosion of blood and brains—indicating the shot came from the front. Rather told the nation the head jerked forward-- backing the rush to judgment that Oswald was the lone gunman. (His lie was exposed years later—by Geraldo Rivera).
His anchorman career was marked by strange, bizarre incidents and confontations. It ended in shame. (Twenty five years ago, Tabloid Baby author Burt Kearns was offered a job writing Rather’s afternoon news updates. At the time, old Dan would walk around the CBS newsroom with a Bible, calling his colleagues “Brother” and “Sister.” He was clearly loopy. Kearns took a job at NBC news.) Now, CBS is showing him the door prematurely, so the decks can be swabbed clean before the Katie Couric brigade redecorates. No corner office. No limo over to PBS to voice documentaries.
Now, according to the New York Times, old Dan is being adopted by George Clooney’s billionaire producer Mark Cuban to host a Hi Definition news broadcast (personally we’d prefer someone with as milkier, creamier complexion in Hi-def.) As he considers the indignity, not far removed from Joe Louis' role as greeter at Caesars Palace, old Dan slips into theatres to watch the comforting lies of “Good Night (COMMA) and Good Luck.”
Dan, the movie's out on DVD.