Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Prescient E-Mail: Strange Times At CBS

In response to an e-mail announcing the debut of my blog, a friend from a southern state sent me the following e-mail, dated 11/17/04 (edited to remove personal information):
"I had the executive producer of the (edited: local) CBS station as a patient. They were and are upset by Dan Rather's handling of the election night coverage. They were ready to come on air and give Ohio and Florida to Pres. Bush. They called National CBS executives before hand as well as several other CBS affiliates and they actually forced Rather's hand. He just did not want to give the election to Bush."
I replied to ask him if it would violate any confidences to post this. He responded as follows on 11/22/04:
"Actually I think that they would not mind. I wouldn't use his name. His feelings are pretty universal within the CBS affiliate members. Primarily they think that:
Dan Rather is biased, liberal, old and his decision not to give states to Bush was driven by personal bias not questions related to numbers. This was driven quite a bit by the 60 Minutes issues. Most affiliates would love to see Rather gone. CBS News has gotten older with no young talent in the stable. This worries the affiliates. They will need fresh young blood if they expect to compete with FoxNews and the others. Many affiliates were getting ready to go on air and give the states to Bush and call the election if Rather had chosen to keep from calling the election. This angered most of the affiliates because it made them seem unable to make a call or simply "out of the loop". They felt pre-empted by FoxNews and the other majors. This will affect future viewers, which is directly related to money."
Concerned that this second e-mail may reflect inferences drawn from the conversation instead of being a paraphrase of that conversation, I queried him on that point. I also requested permission to use his e-mails in an upcoming post and suggested that this would make an excellent first post on a blog of his own. Events have now overtaken us. He replied today with the following:
"This was a paraphrase with some inference. The fact that Dan Rather is now stepping down confirms the conversation and the affiliate's distress with Rather and his policies. From the conversation the affiliates wanted Rather out and fresh blood in. Remember the affiliates pay the bills and it looks like CBS is headed in that direction."
He followed up later with another e-mail granting permission to use his e-mails and included a link to "Dan Rather to Step Down as CBS Anchor", a Fox News story. Strange Times at CBS.

(A big Thank You to my sunshine loving Friend.)