Dan Rather Fan Asks the Tough Questions

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The CNN/Time Politics 2008 symposium attracted plenty of media types and opinion makers. But the two-day confab also attracted a smattering of fans of the media.

Yes, they do exist.

Several people had their picture taken with celebrity anchors including Campbell Brown.

But it was a self-proclaimed fan of Dan Rather who staged one of the more bizarre moments of the symposium.

The former CBS newsman was on a panel discussing the charges of media elitism and bias in coverage of the 2008 election called “Media: Biased and Elitist? Or a Campaign Tactic to Dissuade Tough Questions.”

Rather implored reporters to be “fearless.” The bandwagon behavior of the media and its collective overblown reporting on the horse race, he said, was due in part to “a lack of grit in the gut to ask the really tough questions and keep asking the tough questions until the candidate answers.”

And then it was time for the, um, tough questions from the audience. The first query was from a young woman in the front row. Identifying herself as “from CBS,” she opened by telling Rather that she was a “fan of his work at CBS News.” She then innocently asked him to explain just what happened with his “story about George Bush” and the ensuing investigation into the infamous 60 Minutes II piece that precipitated his retirement from the network.

Seriously? Someone who says she’s “from” the network that canned Rather offers praise of his work there—and then merrily proceeds to pick at the still-open wound of what got him canned in the first place?

As it turns out, the same young woman apparently made herself a nuisance at several panels.

Rather, of course, is suing his former employer for breach of contract for exiling him in the wake of that report, and kindly explained that he really can’t answer the question.

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