CBS anchor-reporter Dan Rather has taken a beating over his reporting of the National Guard 60 Minutes II story, but he still has some people in his corner. Wtiness this testimonial from a C-SPAN interview slated for Sunday: "Dan’s a great, great journalist."
A member of the Dan Rather Fan Club? Well, not officially. Actually, it was Roger Ailes, head of Fox News, in an interview with Brian Lamb.
Asked how he would program a broadcast network newscast, Ailes said it begins with the talent. "And the truth is that people tune in to see Dan Rather."
His praise was not unalloyed, however. Ailes said that sometimes viewers tune in "waiting for a train wreck."
He also said he was "not as fond of [Rather] as an anchor," but he said people are also tuning in because "Dan is one of the great street reporters of all time."
Ailes said not to look for Fox to participate in the news Emmy awards competition anytime soon. Ailes resigned from the National Academy of Arts & Sciences after Fox went five years without even a nomination.
"Now, what the public doesn't know about these Emmy Awards," Ailes told Lamb, "is you get to vote for yourself, and you can pack the panels to vote, which I didn't realize.... [W]e had some fine journalists here doing fine work. And because we were the upstarts, and the other guys had been in the club for a long time, they decided to block us."
When Lamb asked if Ailes saw Fox reentering the news Emmy race, Ailes said he didn’t think so.
"The internal processes have to clean up," Ailes said. "There has to be a real blue-ribbon panel, not a bunch of interns running around hotels eating the bagels and chasing each other.
"There have to be serious people watching serious work..... I’m not denigrating everybody who’s won awards. There’s some fine work there. But they didn’t want us to play. So we decided we won’t play.
"We’ll just get the audience. The award we win every day is the ratings. You know, they can say all they want, but we don’t tell the American people who to watch. They make that decision.
"If the American people voted on these awards, what you see in the ballroom would be totally different. We’d have 100 percent of the awards and the other guys would have none."