- - Friday, July 6, 2012

By Dan Rather
Grand Central Publishing, $27.99 320 pages

Dan Rather has been covering the news for six decades. Forty-four of those yearsfor CBS. He has weathered hurricanes, the Kennedy assassinations, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, Watergate, Sept. 11 and, most important, his own firing from the “Tiffany Network” in 2006.

He can’t wait to tell us all about it - his accomplishments, betrayals and angst - in his folksy, sometimes whiney new memoir,”Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News.”

Like its snappish, 80-year-old author, the book is blunt and obsessive, and it reveals a juicy snapshot of the back-biting and double-crossing world of TV journalism.

He saves his special rancor for his former bosses at CBS, whom he calls out and lambastes for their deceit, cowardice and lack of moral and professional integrity for what he perceives as their fixation on the bottom line over basic journalistic principals.

His basic gripe? His spineless superiors kowtowed to outside pressure and kicked him out.

After that, he zeroes in on some of his colleagues: “[A]fter pretending to be friends for all those years, they stealthily snuck around giving anonymous newspaper quotes and otherwise scheming to put the dirk in deep when I was down and hurting,” he writes.

He accuses his successor, Katie Couric, of dumbing down the news and dismisses her as “news lite.”

Achtung: Do not underestimate the rage of a Rather scorned.

Like Zelig, the Emmy Award-winning journalist has popped up everywhere. For the last half-century, he has reported from most of the hot spots around the globe and much of his reportage makes fora compelling read.

His observations about all the presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama give the reader an interesting insider’s take on the various heads of state.

No surprise here: His least favorites were Richard M. Nixon, who called him “bastard,” and George W. Bush, whose Texas National Guard record he questioned on “60 Minutes II,” which led to Mr. Rather’s downfall and dismissal.

Enraged by his sacking, he went to court demanding $70 million in damages. He lost the suit, created more sturm und drangand reduced his bank account by many millions.

“It was never about the money,” he writes. It was to restore his sense of honor and pride.

Dan Rather was born in a small Texas town and, bedridden with rheumatic fever, he grew up listening to the “Murrow Boys” on the radio and aspired to follow in their footsteps.

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