- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rather not

Behold. It’s “Rathergate — The Movie.”

A group of Hollywood insiders is working up a screenplay about former CBS newsman Dan Rather’s assorted adventures after he used forged documents in a “60 Minutes” story claiming President Bush compromised his Vietnam-era military service. The erroneous story aired at the height of the 2004 presidential campaign and ultimately prompted mass firings at the network, not to mention Mr. Rather’s resignation.

Former CBS producer Mary Mapes’ book chronicling the events — “Truth And Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power” — will be the basis of the screenplay, adapted by “Zodiac” screenwriter James Vanderbily and USA Network producer Mikkel Bondesen, according to the New York Observer.

“Money is the master,” wrote Ms. Mapes in her book. “That is the bottom line to what happened at CBS that fateful fall when we aired a story that, like all stories, was imperfect, but was absolutely grounded in fact. It was well researched and well documented. But when Viacom saw that the story was not well received and that a conservative firestorm was threatening the corporation’s financial well-being, their collective wallets started itching. As a result, I believe CBS News, ‘60 Minutes,’ Dan Rather, and journalism itself got badly scratched.”

Quotes of note

“Obama One” — Name of Sen. Barack Obama’s new Boeing 757 campaign plane.

“In July of last year, we had 79 U.S. service members killed in action in Iraq. We have four thus far this month.” - Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

“None of us is objective. You can’t be objective. But what you can try to be is fair.” — Fox News anchor Brit Hume on journalistic values, to C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb.

Missing in action

There’s a reason why we get no good news about the war in Iraq.

“The number of reporters embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq declined dramatically after the surge in U.S. troop strength went full force last year and violence in the country, including U.S. casualties, started to decline. As a consequence, there have been fewer reporters in the field with U.S. troops in Iraq this year to report on the successes those troops have achieved,” writes Kevin Mooney of CNS News.

“In the period since the surge began in January 2007, according to data that the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF) provided to CNSNews.com, the number of embedded reporters in Iraq peaked in September 2007 at 219 and declined to a low of 58 this June. That is a 74 percent drop in embedded reporters in 9 months.”

Everybody say Amen

Civility will come to the campaign on Aug. 16, when Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama make their first joint appearance at the Saddleback Church, a 22,000-member megachurch in Orange County, Calif. — billed as the “Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion.”

Story Continues →